Recent Recordings by Area Artists

Guitarist Alex Belhaj learned his traditional jazz craft from our jazz friends: James Dapogny, Rod MacDonald, Chris Smith, Mike Karoub, Pete Siers, Paul Klinger, Ray Heitger, Dave Kosmyna and others. The essence of Alex’ trad jazz scholarship is about give-and-take, back-and-forth, instrumental mastery, humor and joie de vivre. With Boodle-Am Shake, Belhaj and his gifted quintet deliver a rollicking, joyful jazz masters degree treatise.

After learning his craft, Belhaj took it on the road to New Orleans where he played with the Crescent City’s current jazz musicians such as Tuba Skinny and Aurora Nealand. He was living the life of a trad jazzman’s dreams. The dream came to an end when the Covid pandemic began. Family and friends around Ann Arbor and Detroit were only too glad to welcome Belhaj and his great guitar playing back! And — he discovered that he had a new calling card, the quintet recording Boodle-Am Shake from 2015 now available for your listening, dancing and laughing pleasure. He gave the session another listen, deciding that it was timeless and that it was time to share it!

Belhaj and his adept and jocular ensemble convened May 2015 at The Party Asylum in Toledo, Ohio. Joining Belhaj were leading lights of Toledo jazz: clarinetist Ray Heitger and cornetist Dave Kosmyna as well as Detroit-Ann Arbor stalwarts bassist Jordan Schug and drummer Pete Siers. Belhaj, Heitger and Kosmyna took turns with the vocals. You’ll love comparing their approaches.

Utilizing the best digital technology to capture the natural, human sound of these instruments and musicians, Belhaj took the tracks to Eric Sills, the genius at Stone Soup Recording Studios in Maumee, Ohio, for final mixing and mastering. The results are astounding, often hilarious and pure auditory pleasure. Belhaj had one more great rabbit to pull out of his jazz hat — to bring dr. arwulf arwulf in for liner notes. arwulf’s commentary is worth the price of the physical CD. Yes, you can download the music from Bandcamp, but for my money, the money is well-spent to read dr. arwulf’s elucidation of the stories behind the songs. And the songs – what a rambunctious repertoire! They range from the fairly familiar “Shake That Thing,” “Cherry,” “Fidgety Feet” and “Sing On” to the less-often heard “My Josephine,” “Do What Ory Say,” “Of All the Wrongs You’ve Done To Me,” “Clementine (from New Orleans)” and the title track. Belhaj ventures into the arena of acoustic blues with “Corrine, Corrina” and “Guitar Rag.” The songs sequence will have you engaged from start to finish. It plays like a comfortable live concert.

Want a captivating trad jazz concert any time your acoustic jazz heart desires? You want to pick up a copy of Boodle-Am Shake by Alex Belhaj’s Crescent City Quintet. If you can’t catch Belhaj in person to purchase a disc, visit or visit