We've just learned that Andrew Kratzat, bassist with the Hot Club of Detroit, and his fiancée Alicia, a violinist, were badly injured in a car accident on August 16 near Ann Arbor, Mich. His bandmates posted a message to Kratzat's many fans on the Hot Club of Detroit website.
Phil Woods called Pepper Adams (1930-86) "bebop down to his socks." Freddie Hubbard said he had a tone like "sawing logs." His nickname was "The Knife." Pepper Adams carved out a strong, edgy sound on the baritone sax — centered, fast, accurate, swinging. At the time, Gerry Mulligan was playing it cool on the big horn, but Pepper Adams played hot.
After leaving Detroit for New York, Adams became a charter member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra at the Village Vanguard. Gary Smulyan followed Adams in the baritone chair of the successor to Thad-and-Mel — the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. Smulyan had played in the Woody Herman Orchestra, and has gone on to record with strings. His latest album is High Noon: The Jazz Soul of Frankie Laine. Smulyan is full of ideas, like this Hot Pepper tribute to Adams with the keeper of the bebop flame, Detroit's Barry Harris, on piano. Harris plays a solo introduction to "Quiet Lady"; Adams' twist was to call that sweet waltz "Quiet! Lady."
Note the riverboat that goes by the Waterfront Stage here in Detroit. It blows its whistle and Smulyan blows back, in measure five of "My Shining Hour."
Personnel: Gary Smulyan, baritone sax; Barry Harris, piano; David Wong, bass; Rodney Green, drums.
After Hot Pepper comes the Hot Club of Detroit. Evan Perri organized this Django Reinhardt-inspired group at Wayne State University in 2003. Four of the five players still live in Detroit. They think of themselves not as a gypsy swing band, but as a jazz band, open to many sounds. The Hot Club records on Detroit's Mack Avenue label, and spends a lot of time on the road. Check its schedule; it's getting around.
Personnel: Evan Perri, lead guitar; Paul Brady, rhythm guitar; Carl Cafagna, saxophones; Julian Labro, accordion, melodica; Andrew Kratzat, bass.
Thanks to artistic and executive director Terri Pontremoli of the Detroit Jazz Fest. Recording by Mark Konopka, Metro Mobile Recording. Surround Sound remix by Duke Markos for JazzSet. Guest producer Sally Placksin.