Johnnie Bassett: A Blues ‘Man for All Seasons’

By Jim Gallert Oh Blues…Sweet Blues! Coming from a Black man’s soul. –Excerpt from “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes The two most influential amplified guitar soloists in the 1940s were Charlie Christian and T-Bone (Aaron Thibeault) Walker. Both men shared Southwestern roots and were taught by the Oklahoma City teacher, Chuck Richardson. Christian diedContinue reading “Johnnie Bassett: A Blues ‘Man for All Seasons’”

* Willie Anderson * Detroit’s forgotten Piano Wizard

By Jim Gallert with Lars Bjorn When Detroit pianists are discussed, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, and Hank Jones are always mentioned.[1] If the participants are in-the-know, the names of Terry Pollard, Harold McKinney, and Kenn Cox could pop up.[2] Willie Anderson (1924-1971) seldom is included. In the thirty years preceding his death atContinue reading “* Willie Anderson * Detroit’s forgotten Piano Wizard”

Teddy Harris: A Jazzman at Motown

By Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert Few Detroit musicians better illustrate the link between Jazz and Motown music than Theodore Edward Harris, Jr. (1934-2005). He boxed with Berry Gordy, sang with Jackie Wilson, and was a Motown road band conductor/arranger.  He was the Supremes Music Director for over a decade. His jazz roots are deep,Continue reading “Teddy Harris: A Jazzman at Motown”

Olujimi Tafataona: In the Tradition, Out of Detroit

By Jim Gallert Olujimi Tafataona is a large, buoyant man with a big smile, who loves brightly colored African attire. He laughs easily and speaks sincerely, and at length. He is an inveterate reader who has books on Africa, Jazz, music and American history. Tafataona has a day job, too. He’s a Truck Drivin’ Man,Continue reading “Olujimi Tafataona: In the Tradition, Out of Detroit”

Jazz Links

These are blogs we visit and enjoy. If you have a website about jazz, send us a link! Are you interested in microscopic views of specific jazz questions? Schaap is in for the deep dive. Marc Myers’ fine blog has good writing and great interviews. Detroit’s free event features thoughtful programming, fourContinue reading “Jazz Links”

Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960

By Lars Bjorn with Jim Gallert We give audio/visual supported talks on: Before Motown: A survey of Detroit Jazz, 1920-1960. We have many rare photographs and audio recordings which we use. Detroit Jazz: The Roaring Twenties. We discuss some Detroit Ballrooms Theaters and Nightclubs. Again, we have rare photos and audio recordings. John R, TheContinue reading “Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960”

Mathew Rucker and the Spirits of Swing

By Jim Gallert and Lars Bjorn Beginning in the late nineteen thirties, trumpeter Mathew Rucker (1919-2017) became a force on the competitive Detroit music scene, leading bands, making money, and living his Life.  His Spirits of Swing had two Detroit musicians who went on to receive worldwide acclaim – Pianist/Organist Milt Buckner and Yusef Lateef.Continue reading “Mathew Rucker and the Spirits of Swing”

About Us

Gallert and Bjorn have been friends for forty years. They give presentations on Detroit Jazz History. They are Jazz archeologists. Lars Bjorn is a Professor Emeritus  of Sociology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the author of (with Jim Gallert) Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60 (University of Michigan Press, 2001). HeContinue reading “About Us”

Maurice King: Detroit Music Master

By Jim Gallert with Lars Bjorn On Monday, December 28, 1992, some of Motown’s biggest stars gathered at the Union Second Baptist Church in Detroit to pay their final respects to Maurice King, a man whose talent helped them to develop into world class artists.  The Spinners and Stevie Wonder were among the hundreds ofContinue reading “Maurice King: Detroit Music Master”