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’”

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”

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”

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”

Jimmy Wilkins: I Love The Sound of a Trombone!

By Jim Gallert and Lars Bjorn Like the Buckner brothers (Ted and Milton), Jimmy Wilkins (b.1921) and Ernie (b.1919) hailed from St. Louis, Missouri, but relocated to Detroit.  Jimmy settled in Detroit in 1955, and for the next forty years he was an important part of our music scene.  Wilkins and his lovely wife CynthiaContinue reading “Jimmy Wilkins: I Love The Sound of a Trombone!”

Joe St. John A Tale in Two Jazz Cities

By Jim Gallert with Lars Bjorn Saxophonist, Joseph Robert St. John had a thirty-year career in Manhattan and Detroit. His New York band battled the great Chick Webb Orchestra and shared a stage with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and King Oliver.  For five years, {1929-34} Joe navigated his band through the turbulent waters of theContinue reading “Joe St. John A Tale in Two Jazz Cities”