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Dik Van Merteen

Southeastern Michigan
Jazz Association

Ann Arbor, Michigan

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.



SEMJA Celebrates Ron Brooks

Ron BrooksOn April 21, SEMJA will celebrate its 25th year by giving this year's SEMJA Award to our founder, Ron Brooks, at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor. The Ron Brooks Trio with Tad Weed (piano) and George Davidson (drums) will perform starting at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by an award presentation and a reception. Please call 734-769-2999 or visit the Concert House website for a reservation.

Ron Brooks will receive this award for his contributions as a bassist, bandleader, club owner, and community member. He emerged as a major bassist in the 1960s playing with piano greats-to-be Bob James and Stanley Cowell in various clubs in Ann Arbor. In Detroit, SEMJA 25 AnniversaryBrooks was a member of the Contemporary Jazz Quintet (led by pianist Kenn Cox) in the middle of the sixties, including recordings for Blue Note in 1968 and 1969. In the 1970s he was a founding member of Mixed Bag, a cooperative group with a fusion touch. The group included Eddie Russ on keyboards, Larry Nozero on saxes, Jerry Glassel on guitar, and Danny Spencer on drums. They recorded for Tribe Records in 1976. In 1985, Brooks opened the Bird of Paradise on Ashley in downtown Ann Arbor, and moved to Main Street from 2000 to 2004. His trio became the house band at the club and included a number of great pianists starting with Eddie Russ (who passed away in 1996), followed by Rick Roe and Tad Weed (in 2000). George Davidson was the first regular drummer in the trio and it is fitting that he is now back with the group at its weekly Wednesday gig at the Raven's Club in Ann Arbor. Pete Siers and Gerald Cleaver shared the drum chair at times.

Brooks founded SEMJA in the spring of 1987, which capped his profile in the jazz life of Southeastern Michigan. He felt the jazz community was too fragmented and that there was a need for an organization that brought musicians together with jazz educators, writers, broadcasters, and regular listeners. It is fitting that an award named for him will be given to Ron Brooks on SEMJA's 25th birthday.


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