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Michigan Tour Diary — Day 2 

Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR
Michigan Tour Diary — Day 2
April 11 Traverse City, MI

After a four-hour flight to Detroit and a four-hour drive north through mist and fog,
dodging deer along the way, we've arrived in Traverse City.

TC is a small town (only 15,000 residents) but is the largest city in Northern Michigan, and something of a tourist destination. Situated on Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse is the self-proclaimed Cherry Capital of the US, and also produces wine grapes. Vacationing midwesterners come here for the freshwater beaches, vineyards, hiking and skiing.

Surprisingly, they're here now. Our hotel is full up with families, which seems odd, because it's so cold outside, with ice and snow piled up along the roadside. Why vacation now? Is it spring break? So many kids.

I hope a few of the older folks come to hear us tonight. It's always a white knuckle ride, arriving in a new place, wondering if anyone knows or cares that you're in town. You send announcements to traditional and social media, maybe do a couple of radio interviews, then it's out of your hands, entirely up to the Fates.

This morning at breakfast I perused the local paper, searching vainly for a photo listing or any mention at all.
Nope! No arts coverage. Just sports, real estate, gossip and TV listings.

Will they come?

Hope so! Regardless, I'm looking forward to the experience.

Traverse City holds much nostalgia for me.

30 years ago, when I was a teenager at Interlochen, we would come here on semi-chaperoned weekend bus trips to stroll around the shops, go to the movies and hang out away from campus.

I held hands with my high school crush here.

I also played my first ever paid gig in this town, a private party at the Maritime Hall.

Our little jazz quintet only knew six tunes from memory.

We played them all twice and made $50 each.

Sassy's Spicy Hoppin' John! 

Sassy's Spicy HOPPIN' JOHN is almost ready!

Here at the Maricopa Cabana, Hoppin' John is one of the ways we celebrate the beginning of a New Year. Traditionally served with cornbread and greens (collard greens, mustard greens, chard, kale or cabbage), the main ingredients in this delicious winter dish are black-eyed peas, rice, chopped onion, country bacon (ham hock or fatback), green peppers and spices. Sassy always adds a little Arizona Gunslinger for an extra kick. Enjoy Hoppin' John on New Year's Day for good luck and prosperity throughout the year.

Be sure to eat your fill: the peas represent coins, the greens are cash, and the cornbread, gold!

TWO, FIVE, WONDER WHAT'S FOR LUNCH? 



INTENDED approach to improvising:

 

Don't think. Just listen and react. Don't play licks and patterns. Create melodies. Let the horn sing, and play from the heart.

 

ACTUAL thoughts while improvising:

 

Here comes the turnaround...classic Brownie riff goes here...nope, this tempo's all wrong. Bop scale! Cleverly ironic Daft Punk quote! Ooh, that was hip. Nobody caught it, of course. Now C-sharp diminished up the...Fail! Awww. Nick Payton wouldn't have missed that high note. Third valve is sticky...uh...where does the bridge go again? No idea. Blues lick! What the hell is happening? I wish the bass player would play the damn roots. Sloan Sabbith. Sloan Sabbith. Sloan Sabbith. Two, five, wonder what's for lunch? Hey now, that was kinda awesome. Sloan Sabbith. Oops, lost the form.

CLAIRDEE'S GIFTS 



Next weekend, on Friday, August 16, the celebrated San Francisco vocalist Clairdee will join with the Dmitri Matheny Group in a salute to The Great American Songbook at Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, Arizona.

 

Presented free-of-charge as part of the arts center's "On The House" summer series, the program will showcase our favorite Broadway and Hollywood hits of the 1920s though the 60s, including works by George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and more. Sharing the stage with us are saxophonist Andrew Gross, pianist Nick Manson, bassist T-Bone Sistrunk and drummer John Lewis.

 

If you've never yet experienced Clairdee in concert, you're in for a treat.

 

Clairdee possesses a beautiful, generous spirit that carries over into her song craft. On stage, she comports herself with effortless grace. She is unpretentious, charming and charismatic, and her performances convey a welcoming air of hospitality. Each member of the audience feels as if we've been invited to a cool, convivial party, and Clairdee is our elegant hostess.

 

Clairdee's vocal gifts are many. Her soulfully alluring style and rich vocal timbre reveal roots in the gospel church. She has an intimate, vulnerable and gentle way with a ballad, yet can swing or shout at will. Clairdee is that most exciting kind of jazz singer — the kind who always keeps a little rousing R&B in her back pocket.

 

Finally, as a song stylist and interpreter of lyrics, Clairdee is unmatched. Her diction is incredibly precise (all too rare today). She is aware of the meaning and feeling behind every phrase, all of which she communicates with winning sincerity and warmth.

 

Performing with Clairdee is, for us, a giant joy. 

 

We hope you can join us for this very special evening.

~DM

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