Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
Marking its 80th anniversary, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge is opening a second location this fall, and is working with Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services to find space in downtown Detroit’s lower Woodward corridor or in Capitol Park near the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. The original Baker’s Keyboard Lounge opened as a sandwich shop in 1933, and began booking jazz pianists the following year.
“We’re talking with our architects to determine which downtown space would best suit our customers,” says Hugh William “Bill” Smith III, who acquired the legendary club on Livernois, near Eight Mile, in 2011 with Eric J. Whitaker. “The acoustics are our first concern, followed by the aesthetics. We’re going to have all of the things Baker’s is known for including a piano-shaped bar (painted with a keyboard motif), booth seating, and a stage area.
“Baker’s is a diamond in this city, this state, and across the world. Now we’re going to reach a much larger audience,” Smith says.
Since 1934, Baker’s has hosted such legendary jazz artists as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Earl Klugh, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughn, and George Benson. Klugh says he began playing at the club in the 1970s as a teenager (accompanied by his mother).
Smith says Capitol Park is an ideal location. In recent years, several buildings bordering the triangular park have changed hands. Bedrock and its various entities have acquired some historic structures, as well as Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services in Detroit and Karp and Associates in Lansing.
“We’re looking at two or three options right now, and if we go on Woodward we’ll have around 175 seats, while in Capitol Park we can have 200-plus seats,” Smith says. “We’re also planning to have a kitchen, and we have to account for that space.”
Smith and Whitaker are working with architect Beverly Hannah Jones, a partner of Hannah-Neumann/Smith in Detroit, and Joel Smith, president of Neumann/Smith Architecture, with offices in Southfield and Detroit. “This project is not in lieu of but in addition to,” Joel Smith says. “There are a lot of musicians looking for a place to play. I remember driving from Ann Arbor to go to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, and I never stopped going. We couldn’t be more excited to work on a project like this.”
Bill Smith says the new location will include an Art Deco-inspired design, and there will be tilted mirrors above the stage so patrons can view the pianist’s hands. “We really want our 80th anniversary to be special, and we will take the same experience we have on Livernois and transport it to downtown Detroit,” Bill Smith says.
Shared by Grosse Pointe Music Academy
Is this a blanket statement by Beethoven or does anyone believe that this is true. Is music actually a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy? Is music a revelation at all?
Anyone born in the last 50 years or so probably has had access to music in more ways that Ludwig van Beethoven could have ever imagined. Technology has made it possible for us to listen to virtually any song at any time. People don’t actually need to go to a concert at all to experience music everyday and all day long. Beethoven died in 1827 and during his time if you wanted to hear music you had to listen to yourself or somebody else play. If music is indeed a revelation, we probably don’t look at it that way now because there is so much of it and it is taken for granted. I can only imagine how powerful it was to see a live performance in the 1800’s and earlier. I guess that is an experience that I will likely never realize unless I take away all my musical gadgets for a few years and never listen to radio or TV. That’s not going to happen so I guess I can only speculate.
If Beethoven’s famous quote is the truth or even close to being true then wouldn’t that make music one of the most vital things to understand? If wisdom and philosophy are secondary to the revelation of music then certainly there would be nobody talking about cutting music programs from our elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools. In fact it would be a subject that requires students to learn and excel. It would be just as important as Math, Sciences, and Language. I personally think that music should be integrated into all subjects but that is a topic for another day.
In my own experience with music, I would say that it has been a revelation for me. It has impacted my life in so many ways that it’s hard to quantify it’s importance. All I can say that it has been a vitally important function in my life. It has helped with my imagination, creativity, discipline, and so many more things. I don’t think life would be much fun without it. I can’t say music is a revelation, but I also cannot say that it’s not.
by Henry Bahrou
Music is an art form that has been experimented with by humans since, quite possibly, before we had even developed the ability to verbally communicate with one another. As music has advanced, changed, and evolved, so have both humans, and the instruments that we have used to create these sounds. First, we banged sticks, and rocks on the dirt to create rhythms. Then we created drums, and skins to cover the drums. Soon we had hollow gourds that we would fasten a stick and string to, and so forth. Ingenuity has driven the creation of both music, and the instruments that create the sound.
When Professor Leon Theramin patented his theraminophone in 1928, he changed the way that many musicians viewed the possibilities of sound that they could use to create their art. Arguably, this led to revolutions such as electric organs, keyboards, and guitars. Just the mere concept that electricity could be converted into music was a revolution. Almost all at once, the range of sounds that a musician had to choose from had increased exponentially.
Since then, we have been witness to the Grateful Dead’s “wall of sound“, the invention of the talk box (Wikipedia describes the talk box as an effects system that “the musician controls the modification by lip syncing, or by changing the shape of the mouth.”), and Les Paul’s visionary electric guitar.
When I had first become interested in building guitars, I had attended a lecture in Washington State by luthier Fred Carlson about creativity in guitar design. He prefaced his lecture by informing the audience that he was an “alien” from another planet (I forget the name of the planet now, or I would share it with you. I am certain that a transcript of the lecture is available through the Guild of American Luthiers). He then went on to describe how his process of designing his most recent instrument, which he called “The Flying Dream“, had begun with a sketch that he had earlier drawn reminding him of a chicken trying to fly. Mr. Carlson is a charming person with whom I had the pleasure of talking after the lecture. His words have been inspirational to me ever since.
The Fall of that year, I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. I attended Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, in Phoenix, AZ, directed by William Eaton. William Eaton is an Emmy award winning composer, a performing musician, and luthier. Acknowledged as one of the world’s great designers and builders of unique guitars, Eaton’s instruments have been featured in books, magazines, video, luthier conventions and at international exhibits. His countless lectures, and live demonstrations of his unique instruments has greatly influenced my way of thinking about musical instrument design.
I suppose that what I am trying to say is that imagination is where art begins, and creativity begets more creativity. We have come a long way since our neanderthal ancestors, and with technology continually changing and advancing, who knows what new and interesting instruments will be created, and what the artists who use them will be able to create in the form of music as a result.
Grosse Pointe Music Academy Staff
Books on Instrument Design:
I’ve been posting quite a few things in the last few days about music and the human brain. If you have any interest in this subject whatsoever then you’ll certainly enjoy this video. Daniel Levitin, Neuroscientist and musician, gives some great example of how music is so absolutely important in our lives. The function of music in relationship to the brain continues to astound the world’s most intelligent scientists.
In the video Dr. Levitin says there are many instances where those suffering from alzheimer’s can’t even remember their own name but if you play songs that they knew when they were younger that the memory responds rapidly. People tend to perk up and become more joyful. When he said that it made me think of how many business that I’ll always remember because they had a catchy little jingle going on the radio. Recently I saw a paper advertisement for a company called Father and Son Construction. Father and Son Construction had a catchy song and TV commercial that instantly starts playing in my had every time I see their ad. Some old commercials I wish I could remove from my head but they just won’t go away! You can unsubscribe to someone’s blog or email newsletters but once a business get’s you to sing their tune then they pretty much have you sold for life.
Here is a brief excerpt from Wikipedia’s page on Dr. Daniel Levitin:
Born in San Francisco, California the son of Lloyd Levitin, a businessman and professor, and Sonia Levitin, a novelist, Levitin was raised in Daly City, Moraga and Palos Verdes, California. He studied electrical engineering at theMassachusetts Institute of Technology, and music at the Berklee College of Music before dropping out of college to join a succession of bands. He returned to school in his thirties, studying cognitive psychology/cognitive sciencefirst at Stanford University (he received his B.A. in 1992 with honors and highest university distinction) and then the University of Oregon where he received his M.Sc. (1993) and Ph.D. (1996). He completed post-doctoral fellowships at Paul Allen’s Silicon Valley think-tank Interval Research, at the Stanford University Medical School, and at the University of California, Berkeley. His scientific mentors included Roger Shepard, Michael Posner, Douglas Hintzman, John R. Pierce and Stephen Palmer. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, Dartmouth College and Oregon Health Sciences University.
posted by Grosse Pointe Music Academy Staff
Grosse Pointe Music Academy has locations in the Plymouth Canton area of Metro Detroit and on the Eastside of Detroit in Grosse Pointe. We offer lessons in music for all ages and levels.
The title of this blog comes from Mark Levine’s very popular Jazz Theory book. I think it is important for musicians practicing all styles to “make music when practicing” rather than just Jazz musicians. It’s common for people to think about playing those dreaded scales over and over again at the piano, guitar, or any instrument. Perhaps this is mentioned in a Jazz book because of the highly improvisational nature of Jazz music but you can make any style of music fun while practicing with your scales and exercises. In other words, you should play with feeling and intensity while practicing. Pretend you are doing a major performance with all eyes on you. Make it fun for yourself or it will become drudgery. The path to becoming an awesome musician can be one of much pain and suffering and boredom if you hate your practice time. Even people that play a lot of shows spend about 10 times as much time in the woodshed practicing away. If you hate practicing then realizing that you’re probably going to perform a lot less than you practice is not very good news. I’m not trying to sound Zen but please enjoy the journey. There is a gap between being a beginner and being great. Whatever it is that you do in your life will get better with a lot of practice.
Learn to practice your weaknesses
Some people will practice only the things that they know best and neglect to work on the things that they need most. Recognizing your weaknesses and not avoiding them is the key to getting better. I love it when a student tells me that they hate this chord, or this scale, or song or whatever. If you hate something about your instrument, it usually means that you aren’t very good at it and you don’t understand it. Some people have billions of dollars and others have nothing but we all have an equal amount of time and so time is extremely valuable. Practice time is hard for all of us to squeeze in so it’s vital that you pinpoint your weakness and go after it in your practice. 15 minutes of your time focusing on a single weakness will surely improve your skill in that area. 15 minutes of continuous practice is quite a long time if you are focused.
Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts in our comment section.
Grosse Pointe Music Academy
2 locations serving Metro Detroit
5880 N. Canton Center Rd. Ste. 425
17012 Mack Ave.
Grosse Pointe Park, MI