Musical Conversations – Talking Ear Speaks Progressive Jazz to Midwestern Audiences

Talking Ear plays progressive jazz to Midwestern audiences. From left: Ben Rolston, Ben Maloney, Dan Palmer, Estar Cohen and Travis Aukerman.

As a jazz quintet, Talking Ear blends original compositions with improvisation to musically converse with a growing Midwestern audience.

Their progressive jazz speaks volumes through the band’s live performances and their self-titled debut album, which features eight beautiful tracks draped in smooth vocals, soft pianos, crashing cymbals, rhythmic basslines and breakout guitar solos.

“Talking Ear was formed as a way to push each other because we all felt that connection of wanting to become better musicians and break through personal barriers together,” said vocalist Estar Cohen. “I think the way we carry along some of the jazz tradition is by continuously trying to be creative and finding our own voices.”

Along with Cohen, the band’s other four members, Travis Aukerman (drums), Dan Palmer (guitar), Ben Maloney (piano) and Ben Rolston (bass), have found their own musical voices through years of academic study, professional training, composing and performance.

As accomplished jazz musicians, they communicate mainly through improvisation. Collectively, they’ve taken a “Talking Ear” approach to their music – listening is how they ultimately share ideas and respond to one another.

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Detroit’s New Musical Evolution — DIME Sessions Volume 3 Album Spotlights Rising Motor City Artists

DIME Sessions Volume 3 showcases some of Detroit’s best musical talent.
DETROIT — For 13 aspiring artists, a new Motor City compilation album captures their musical passion and growth.

Known as Detroit Institute of Music Education: DIME Sessions Volume 3, the album features 11 original tracks written by DIME students and weaves themes of political frustration, Motor City pride, personal struggle, relationships and musical tributes.

“This is the crème de la crème of our student body who are in a position to write and record at the time or who may have songs even if they’re in the simplest form,” said Sabrina Underwood, label manager for Original 1265 Recordings at DIME. “This is their opportunity to know what it feels like to have a record released internationally on a major label. They can use this as a calling card to open up other doors.”

DIME released its third annual album Aug. 25 on Original 1265 Recordings, which is an independent label owned by CND America, DIME’s parent company, and distributed by Caroline Distribution.

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Kesha Sparkles for Glitter-covered Fans at Sold-out Detroit Fillmore Show

Kesha sings about hope, authenticity and growth at The Fillmore Detroit.

Kesha’s latest album cover for “Rainbow” is reminiscent of ‘70s prog rock artwork.

The bejeweled flying saucers, pink-tinged planets and Kesha’s naked backside are quintessential images for a modern-day interpretation of a prog rock-inspired album cover for a pop singer-songwriter.

That’s what I love about Kesha. She takes a cool album art concept from the past and reimagines it for the present. It’s her vision for what truly lies on the other side of the rainbow.

Her colorful album cover nicely houses 14 raw, transformational songs that fall inside and out of the typical pop spectrum with rock and country influences.

Kesha performed 10 of her album gems – including “Learn to Let Go,” “Hymn,” “Godzilla,” “Bastards” (my favorite) and others – from “Rainbow” during a sold-out show at The Fillmore Detroit on Sunday.

Tons of fans (both male and female) dressed in colorful tops, dresses, leggings and tutus and drenched in glitter lined up in downtown Detroit to see their “Rainbow” hero. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much glitter in one place.

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5 Reasons to See Phoenix’s ‘Ti Amo’ Tour

Phoenix light up The Fillmore in Detroit on Oct. 11.

The first time I saw Phoenix live was during a snowstorm in December 2009 at the now defunct Clutch Cargo’s club in Pontiac, Mich.

Thomas Mars and his three bandmates – Deck d’Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai – captivated the sold-out crowd with songs from their 2009 smash, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” and officially established their reputation as a must-see live act.

They also reigned supreme as a coveted festival act with memorable appearances at Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza in 2009 and 2010.

By 2013, they had played the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center for their “Bankrupt!” tour, which didn’t feel like the right venue for the French indie pop band. Their sound and stage presence is much better suited for mid-size theater (2,000 or less) rather than a mini arena (9,500).

Last week, Phoenix recaptured the same magic of the “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” tour at The Fillmore in Detroit on Oct. 11 while promoting their latest album, “Ti Amo.”

I have to admit Phoenix’s performance was by far one of their best I’ve seen in years. Here are the five best parts I took away from last week’s show:

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Taking Career Advice from Father John Misty

Father John Misty reflects on his professional journey to becoming a musician at Royal Oak Music Theatre.
Toward the end of his two-hour set Tuesday night, Father John Misty hosted a mini Q&A session with more than 1,000 fans at Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, Mich.

He took one question from a woman crammed in the pit with other fans near the stage. She shouted, “How did you first get into doing this?”

Father John Misty paused for a moment and then answered matter-of-factly: “I started doing this because I was not good at anything else.”

His answer resonated with fans because it was honest and authentic. Unlike other artists, Father John Misty, a.k.a. Josh Tillman, is known for being real and direct.

Father John Misty, a.k.a. Josh Tillman
With a sardonic sense of humor, Father John Misty provides colorful commentary about life, politics, human connection and music through his latest album, “Pure Comedy.” I can’t help but laugh every time he gives a serious answer behind his sarcastic grin. His musings are just as entertaining as his indie folk rock.

Father John Misty continued to share his unconventional career path with fans: “I started as a dishwasher and then donated plasma for a long time, became estranged from my parents, played drums for a bunch of bands and then started taking psychedelic drugs, stopped doing psychedelic drugs, bought some really tight pants, so if you follow those steps in that order …”

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Sylvan Esso Owns the Night with Sunday’s Sold-out Show at The Crofoot

 

Amelia Meath, left, and Nick Sanborn electrify the Crofoot crowd Sunday night as Sylvan Esso.

Surrounded by thick smoke and neon lights, Sylvan Esso’s pulsating beats electrified a sold-out crowd at The Crofoot Sunday night in Pontiac, Mich.

The Durham, N.C. indie synthpop duo played a 75-minute danceable set featuring 16 songs from their 2014 eponymous self-titled debut and their latest album, “What Now.”

After opening with “Sound,” Nick Sanborn addressed the duo’s overdue stop in the Detroit area.

“Sometimes, when you’re in a band this thing happens where you put up any dates at all, and then inevitably, someone is like, ‘Come to Brazil,’ and you’re like, ‘It’s so hard to go to Brazil,’ so it’s a common band thing,” he said. “And the one place every time somebody says ‘Come to Detroit,’ you guys are like the only ones that get to complain. We’re so sorry, this has been a long time coming.”

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First Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Spotlights Growing Motor City Music, Art Scene

Rahbi Hammond, aka Rah the Son, pumps up the crowd at Detroit LIVE.

A blend of Motor City sunshine, art and music formed a new creative and collaborative vibe during the inaugural Detroit LIVE at the Heidelberg.

That vibe pulsated throughout Heidelberg Street as more than 2,000 attendees enjoyed family, friends, festivities, food and fun at the free Aug. 26 block party near the city’s iconic art installation.

“This Detroit LIVE event at the Heidelberg is a collaboration,” said Jenenne Whitfield, CEO for The Heidelberg Project. “It’s a celebration of all the cultures in the city of Detroit and of all the grassroots initiatives. I want a party in the middle of the street. I want to show Detroit how it’s really done.”

Donna Kassab, POWER Entertainment owner and Detroit LIVE creator, joined Whitfield to reflect on the event’s strong creative community.

“Everyone’s here to celebrate each other as well as music and art,” she said. “Let’s have some fun.”

Nine artists continued to spread that vibe musically as they showcased Detroit’s best hip-hop, techno, R&B, classical and indie rock before curious and engaged attendees.

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