Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky 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.

Shop

More Articles

Read Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center Live Reviews Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center
by David Becker
Published: January 24, 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 An Evening with Pat Metheny at The Barre Opera House Live Reviews An Evening with Pat Metheny at The Barre Opera House
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2017
Read Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina Live Reviews Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 10, 2017
Read Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016 Live Reviews Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy Concert 2016" Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy Concert 2016
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "Jon Cleary at The Ardmore Music Hall" Live Reviews Jon Cleary at The Ardmore Music Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Gregory Porter At The Ulster Hall, Belfast" Live Reviews Gregory Porter At The Ulster Hall, Belfast
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 6, 2016
Read "Josh Lawrence Quintet at Chris’ Jazz Café" Live Reviews Josh Lawrence Quintet at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 9, 2016
Read "Vocalist Sinne Eeg at Chris’ Jazz Cafe" Live Reviews Vocalist Sinne Eeg at Chris’ Jazz Cafe
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Sari Kessler: Live At The Kitano" Live Reviews Sari Kessler: Live At The Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!