Motor City Cribs 

For all that talk of Detroit "garage rock" bands, I have never seen a Detroit band that actually practiced in a garage. Pas/Cal comes the closest for having recorded much of its brilliant pop (and very un-garage) music in vocalist Casimer's former garage. But as far as truly rocking the garage in the Detroit area, we must look to jazz musician Tad Weed.

The Ypsilanti-based pianist has turned his backyard garage into a welcoming sound-proofed studio and rehearsal space. With warm wood walls and memorabilia from gigs past, all surrounding his Steinway, it's a perfect sanctuary for Weed to practice, record and teach. It's also a sanctuary from years on the road as a touring musician.

Born and raised in Jackson, Weed was based out of Los Angeles for years, supporting great vocalists like Anita O'Day, Carmen McRae and Paul Anka. Weary of nonstop touring, Weed returned to Mitten in 2000.

What makes Weed's playing, is that, yes, it's rooted in popular song, but also in styles ranging from the avant-garde approaches of Horace Tapscott to the pure funkiness of Gene Harris to the tangos of Astor Piazzolla. By drawing from these seemingly disparate streams, Weed has crafted his own ear-twisting style.

When he's not busy teaching at the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Bowling Green University or the University of Windsor, or gigging around town, you might find Weed in his unassuming backyard musical lab, trying to find out what happens when you combine Monk with Piazzolla. Just make sure you leave your car in the driveway.

The Tad Weed Trio plays with Sheila Jordan at 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 7, at the Detroit International Jazz Festival (downtown Detroit, free). He'll be on the Absopure Waterfront Stage. 

More by Doug Coombe

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