Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

2

Planet D Nonet Annual Do-Ra

Steve Bryant By

Sign in to view read count
Planet D Nonet
Planet D Nonet Do-Ra
Detroit Institute of Art
Detroit, MI

December 28, 2012

The Detroit music scene is well known for its firm groundings in blues R&B, rock and hard-bop, which includes a large community of musicians as well as a solid fan base. What isn't as well known is that there is a sizable following for avant-garde jazz, especially for the music and mystique of Sun Ra. This interest in the legendary bandleader and visionary dates back to the early '70s when his Arkestra played the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival. In addition, quite a few area musicians are students as well as admirers of Sun Ra.

As a matter of fact, there is even a Detroit Sun Ra tribute band, The Planet D Nonet, which is headed by veteran drummer RJ Spangler. The Nonet brought its annual Do-Ra to the Detroit Institute of Art, where it performed a variety of Sun Ra charts to an enthusiastic audience in the historic Diego Rivera Court. The Nonet, which is comprised of crack area musicians, even wore fezes to mark the occasion. The set started with a classic Arkestra intro before the group dove right into an energetic rendition of "The Will Come Is Now." The tune's highlight was the energetic solos by reed players Justin Jozwiak , Tim Haldeman, and Joshua James. "Fate In A Pleasant Mood" followed, featuring a fiery djembe intro by the great Detroit percussionist Akunda Hollis.

Things really got interesting when the Nonet played "Love in Outer Space," featuring solos by trumpeter Jam O'Donnell and trombonist John "T'Bone" Paxton. However, it was an ethereal turn on "Island In The Sun" which got the crowd excited, as the group started channeling Mwandishi (pianist Herbie Hancock's early '70s, pre-Headhunters electric group). It jumped off with bassist Joel Peterson's 7/4 tumbao, accompanied by Mike Malis on Fender Rhodes and followed by James' turn on bass clarinet. Of course, no Sun Ra set would be complete without some vocal numbers, and Spangler and the group obliged with "They'll Come Back," sung by Paxton.

The second set was a mix of classic Ra and original tunes. The Nonet performed "You Never Told Me That You Cared," penned by the little-known but prodigious Detroit composer Cassius Richmond. The set's other memorable piece was "Ancient Aethepia," with the trumpet section evoking Lester Bowie and Eddie Henderson. The night ended in classic Arkestra fashion with a second-line during "Where Pathways Meet!" Performing the Sun Ra repertoire is no mean feat. You have to have an ensemble with solid musicality and strong soloists. It also helps to have players who appreciate that Arkestra spirit. Fortunately Spangler and his Nonet were up to the task.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon Live Reviews David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 6, 2017
Read Christian McBride and Tip City at Village Vanguard Live Reviews Christian McBride and Tip City at Village Vanguard
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 5, 2017
Read "Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's" Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017" Live Reviews ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "The Stanley Clarke Band At Kuumbwa Jazz Center" Live Reviews The Stanley Clarke Band At Kuumbwa Jazz Center
by Walter Atkins
Published: July 3, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!