City Slang: Planet D Nonet

Jul 3, 2014 at 12:03 am

There was a time when jazz was the very definition of cool, back when the beat writers would fill their frail bodies with copious amount of anything and then fuck the first human with a pulse to cross their path. Jazz was once at least as rebellious, subversive and exciting as punk rock, filled with sexual energy and dirt. In New Orleans, the swing was filthy. Detroit’s Planet D Nonet encapsulates all of that.

The Royal Oak Brewery’s courtyard is the perfect outdoor space for this band. The Summer Wit beer (with a slice) is tangy and refreshing, the weather is perfect, and there’s a fun buzz in the air. This is Royal Oak, so the perfume smells expensive, but it’s mixed with man-sweat so that cheapens it in all the right ways. Back in the day, a jazz night like this would be blessed with the smell of cigarettes and whiskey, but this will have to do.

The group is superb. Band leader RJ Spangler, an original Sun Messenger, talks a lot between songs but people are chatting so every third word we can make out but that’s about it. Still, the man has this band drilled to perfection. The “D” in the name is for “Detroit.” “Nonet” means nine. All nine of the musicians are tremendous. There’s a cool meerkat quality to the presentation; when one of the musicians plays a solo, they stand up.

The music swings along beautifully, dirty sax meeting cool trumpet and trombone, plus Spanglers skillful drumming. Guest vocalist Camille Price, a Grosse Pointe Farms native (hope she’s not trying to ban our newspaper), adds some sass and a strong set of pipes to the tunes.

Overall, there are few better ways to spend a summer evening than with a cold beer and some quality music. Planet D Nonet, and that Wit, gave us exactly that.