An evening of rich jazz history featured pianist/vocalist Alvin Waddles playing the music of stride and ragtime legends Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, and other greats. Widely popular for his central roles in Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Too Hot to Handel, Waddles tickled the ivories along with his dynamic ensemble featuring Marion Hayden on bass, trumpeter John Douglas, and percussionist Djallo Djakate.
Alvin Waddles. There is a difference, and the difference is that indescribable something that sets the gifted apart from the rest of the pack.
Alvin Waddles is one of those must-see artists. Not only a pianist but a singer, composer, and director, Waddles is widely recognized as a soloist and featured artist with a special affinity for the style of the legendary Fats Waller. He began , the piano at the age of eight in his native Detroit, then continued his studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan School of Music. Waddles has worked in the Detroit and Ann Arbor Public Schools as well as the Music Ministries of several churches, including the historic New Bethel Baptist Church, Hartford Memorial Baptist, and Hope United Methodist in Southfield, where he has served as Director of Music since 1995.
Waddles’ unique performance style has taken him around the world to Barbados, Beijing, Paris, Barcelona and Ghana, West Africa, as well as other international stages. He has also traveled extensively as musical director/pianist for Cook, Dixon and Young (formerly of the Three Mo’ Tenors), and has worked with a variety of world-class musicians, including Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Brazeal Dennard, Minister Thomas Whitfield, Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Placido Domingo, George Shirley, Marcus Belgrave, Jack Jones, Haley Westenra, Stephanie Mills and Tramaine Hawkins. He’s the featured piano soloist in annual productions of Too Hot to Handel in Detroit and Chicago, and widely popular for his central role in Ain’t Misbehavin’ .
Accompanying Alvin Waddles for this engagement was be a trio of local music luminaries whose individual accomplishments are also both impressive and extensive by any measure. Returning Music in Homes favorite Marion Hayden is a founding member of the all-female group Straight Ahead. She also has worked with such renowned jazz giants as Kenny Burrell, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Fortune, Steve Turre, and James Carter. One of Detroit’s most in-demand bassists, Hayden is an adjunct professor of jazz and contemporary improvisation at the University of Michigan and is affiliated with Tri-C College in Cleveland, Ohio.
Percussionist Djallo Djakate is known and appreciated for his ability to stretch out in any number of styles ranging from bebop to techno. He has performed at the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival, Montreux Tokyo International Jazz Festival, and the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. He has worked with a broad range of talent including Marcus Belgrave, Charlie Gabriel, Wendell Harrison, A. Spencer Barefield, Kenn Cox, Ralphe Armstrong, Jazzhead, Thornetta Davis, and the Black Bottom Collective.
Speaking of Jazzhead, one of that group’s founding members, John Douglas completes the trio of bright stars accompanying Waddles for what is sure to be another awe-inspiring performance by the Fats Waller Review. The online magazine Citypulse had this to say about Douglas and his impressive range of musicality:
“Douglas plays a lot of jazz styles, including Latin and funk, but seems most at home with straight-ahead bop in the vein of Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis. He’s worked with several groups, but is perhaps best known as a founding member of the rambunctious collective Jazzhead, which won Best Jazz Recording at 1999’s Detroit Music Awards.
“Douglas is a student of all the great trumpeters, from bright Louis Armstrong to shadowy Woody Shaw, but the searching, elastic, lyrical Davis sound suits his mood these days.”
— Keith Owens
The concert included a delicious creole-style meal with favorites such as jambalaya, red beans, rice and corn bread. Mardi Gras attire encouraged! Tickets: $50; VIP seating in front rows with additional leg room: $60.
* All concerts include a delicious light dinner, beverages and dessert during intermission. Concerts in May and June 20 are held in spacious tents set in the gardens of homes; the final concert on June 27 will be held in the historic Palmer Park Log Cabin. You may tour a portion of the home prior to the concerts on Friday and Saturday. In the case of severe weather, Palmer Woods Music in Homes (MIH) will move the concert to the beautiful art deco Detroit Unity Temple or other appropriate nearby venue. Tickets are not refundable. MIH reserves the right to make program changes if necessary.