Friday January 22, 2015 "A Full Week of Jazz!"

I am getting ready for a super busy week of jazz gigs. It is going to be an intense work schedule, but it's what I live for!!!
Here are my thoughts about the different musics, artists, and venues:

Bobby Murray's Tribute to Etta James is a collective of serious blues musicians.  Etta's music is so greasy, soulful and sassy. She didn't side-step anything, but got straight to the point.  If all you know of her work is "At Last," you might be surprised to learn how diverse her tastes were.  There is jazz, soul, rock and gut busting blues in there.  The one common thread is that her music was 100% human emotion.  The three singers that will be featured (Joe Jolley, Lenny Watkins, Tosha Owens) all capture that spirit.  Ms. Tosha Owens singing "I'd Rather Go Blind" is a life-changing event! She sings with authority, personality, desperation, power and grace.  And don't forget the leader, Bobby Murray.  Many of us know well his mastery of the blues language, but what makes him so special to me is his spirit.  He is ALWAYS in a good mood!  Smiling, loving life and playing his butt off. To top it off I am in the horn section with some of my best friends, THE WOODWARD HORNS (Jimmy Smith, Bobhy Streng and Matt Martinez).

On Monday I play with the Paul Keller Orchestra in Ann Arbor at Zal Gaz Grotto.  The PKO has been playing every Monday night for over 20 years! The band's birthday is coming up soon and is a testament to Paul's dedication to music. I love playing each week with PKO because it keeps my skills honed.  I get a chance to sight-read a bunch of charts (work on my instant conception!), keep my clarinet, flute, alto and tenor saxes crisp, work on ensemble playing, sharpen my listening skills and stay connected to many great friends in this crazy business.

The Black Lotus Brewery in Clawson is developing into an oasis for professional musicians. They have a new music room adjacent to the brewery with a wonderful stage and PA. I will be there on Sunday with The Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra.  I have been with Scott from the beginning when we were playing at the Circa Lounge. Scott has his own unique voice through his compositions and arrangements that shine is this stellar group. I will also be there Wednesday with my own group The Hughes/Smith Quintet playing the music of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. We will have Keith Kaminski with us...I am looking forward to that because I absolutely love sharing the stage with other Saxophonists and Keith is the man!

Thursday I will be with my quintet again, but this time at O'Malley's in Livonia.  This club was just remodeled with an emphasis on live music. They too have a great stage with an amazing sound system built in.  They have a very supportive built-in crowd that loves live music and we are honored to playing our original music there.  We have a special guest with us that night, new-comer jazz vocalist, Liz Smith.

Friday the Hughes/Smith Quintet hits again at Motor City Wine. I can't say enough about the cats in the band. Joining us is Pete Siers on drums.  Pete is a world of musical knowledge and brings his expertise to everything he does.  Last time Pete played with us, he elevated the bandstand until we were all floating! Mix in Takashi's groove on bass and Phil Kelly on piano, be-bop master and an amazing accompanist who always knows just what to play, it's going to be an awesome night!

Well, time for me to go...I have some practicing to do!

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