Swinging at Schoolcraft for Michael G.

The SEMJA tribute to Michael G. Nastos at Schoolcraft College was a resounding success, with fabulous music and plenty of accolades for one of the great jazz radio voices of Metro Detroit. Nastos’ former colleagues at WEMU Linda Yohn and Jim Gallert praised his deep knowledge of the jazz tradition and his consistent support for local artists on air and in his writing.

Ron Brooks and his RB3+2 kicked things off in style with songs by area composers Kenn Cox and Eddie Russ. Trumpeter Rayse Biggs, tenorist Vincent Bowens and pianist Gary Schunk treated us to inspired solos on the interesting chord progressions penned by Cox and Russ. Bassist Brooks and drummer Djallo Djakate provided a comfortable rhythmic cushion for the frontliners.

In the second half of the concert, drummer RJ Spangler and trombonist T-Bone Paxton led a larger ensemble built from their Quintet. Soloists were altoist Vincent York, tenorist Steve Wood, tenorist/flutist Paul VornHagen, and guitarist Matt LoRusso. The cooking rhythm section was anchored by the dynamic duo of Spangler and percussionist Akunda Hollis, plus Kurt Krahnke’s solid bass. T-Bone also gave a sample of his hip vocals.

SEMJA thanks everyone who made contributions to this fundraiser and to the musicians who donated their time. Particular thanks go out to Ron Brooks, RJ Spangler, and the Department of Music at Schoolcraft College led by Bart Polot.

TOP: A Great Day in Livonia with many of the participants (from left) George Davidson, Ron Brooks, Vincent Bowens (hidden), unkn, Vincent York, T Bone Paxton, Paul VornHagen, Steve Wood, Linda Yohn, Kurt Krahnke, Matt LoRusso, RJ Spangler, Akunda Hollis, unkn, Djallo Djakate, Michael G Nastos.

INSET: Jim Gallert and Michael G Nastos (award in arms)

ABOVE, RIGHT: The Ron Brooks Trio Plus Two with (from left) Brooks, Rayse Biggs, Vincent Bowen, Djallo Djakate. Gary Schunk on piano

ABOVE, LEFT: The augmented RJ Spangler –T Bone Paxton Quintet featured (from left) T Bone, Steve Wood, Vincent York, Paul VornHagen. Rhythm section Djallo Djakate, Matt LoRusso, Akinda Hollis, RJ Spangler

photographs by Lars Bjorn