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Ed Love Celebration at Baker's


The celebration of the career of Ed Love, Detroit's favorite jazz DJ, at Baker's on October 13, was a wonderful event on many counts. SEMJA's program attracted an almost full house, the music by Urban Transport was inspired, the food and service was congenial, and above all, the object of everyone's affection that afternoon seemed to really enjoy himself, surrounded by family and friends.

Things got started with a long set by Urban Transport, which is co-lead by Vincent Chandler (trb), Sean Dobbins (b), and Dean Moore (as). This afternoon Rick Roe played piano and Nick Calandro from Flint handled the bass duties. "Detroit Is Live" was their first selection, followed by the song that they speculated clinched the winning spot in the competition for a slot in this year's Detroit Jazz Festival: "Urban Transport." This is a very talented band with spirited soloists, maybe in particular Vincent Chandler, who is the veteran in this youthful group. Dobbins' drumming is fiery and constantly getting better, and Moore pulled off several soulful alto solos. Roe was as elegant and swinging as he always is and Nick Calandro, a new acquaintance for me, provided a really solid foundation behind the others.

Vincent Chandler was one of the first to get a chance to pay tribute to Ed Love, thanking him for "playing hip music on the radio when I was growing up." Jim Gallert, former colleague of Love at WDET, and MC for the night, gave an articulate, well researched, and spirited speech honoring Love. He summarized Love's contributions as follows "he was not a musician, but he spread the sound through the radio waves." Actually, Love studied trumpet through junior college, but eventually decided radio would be his forte. He started out as a go-fer in a K.C. radio station, worked for the AFRS in the Far East during the Korean war, then went on to stations in West Virginia, Philadelphia, and Boston. In the mid-fifties he contacted Detroit radio man George White after hearing him on the air, but Love did not move here until 1960. He spent 17 years with Bell Broadcasting, also worked Channel 7 TV, and WQRS. In 1983 he was dismissed by the latter and picked up by WDET (FM 101.9) where he still has his nightly show weekdays. A year after coming to town he also organized the "Ed Love Jazz Workshop" in cooperation with Lebaron Taylor. His energies also went into organizing a concert series at the DIA and his day-job, a thirty-five stint as a mail carrier!

SEMJA Board President Ron Brooks made the official pronouncement of Ed Love as this year's recipient of the SEMJA Award, for his significant contributions to the jazz-life of Detroit. In response, Love gave a heartfelt and charming thanks to everyone present, particulary his wife Martha and twin daughters. Love invited Frank Malfitano from Music Hall and the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival on stage, who pronounced that "even if Ed is not a musician, he's one of the greatest players." A soaring musical tribute in song, Horace Silver's "Doodlin'", followed from the wonderful bebop trio of Joan Crawford, Ping Spells, and Shirley Hayden.

A number of musicians participated in a jam session to end the festivities, starting with "Blue Monk" featuring powerful tenorist Allen Barnes and Detroit's legendary bassist Will Austin. The final tribute of the night was a short poem from Ed Love's friend Elizabeth, which ended as follows: "Jazz Is Love and Love Is Jazz." It seemed everyone present said "Amen" to that sentiment.

From Top: Ed Love accepting the 2002 SEMJA Award;
SEMJA Board President Ron Brooks with Love;
Trio Joan Crawford, Ping Spells and Shirley Hayden

photographs by Lars Bjorn

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Southeastern Michigan
Jazz Association


is published monthly. 
It is edited by Lars Björn and Piotr Michalowski
with additional assistance from Barton Polot (production editor and Webmaster), Judy Alcock, Margot Campos, Lynn Hobbs, and Marcel Niemiec.