Head cheese

Remember that wah-wah intro to the Temptations' "Cloud Nine"? That was from guitarist Dennis Coffey's first day at Motown. It was one of a hundred gold and platinum records that he played on for various labels before the old session scene dried up in the 1980s. Coffey worked on the auto assembly line, got a couple degrees and wound up as an industry consultant. He also wrote Guitars, Bars, and Motown Super Stars (University of Michigan Press). But he never stopped playing, and, in the last year, he's quietly slipped into Baker's every couple of months to play jazz standards, such hits as his own "Scorpio" and tunes like Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Coffey's five monomanias of the moment:

5) Gigging: Well, actually I'm looking forward to getting more gigs, and the Baker's thing has worked out really well. I get a chance to meet with some of the newer players.

4) Orienting: I listen to a lot of the historical stuff — you know, Miles and Wes, Coltrane and all those folks — just listening to the art form and wondering where it's headed.

3) Benefiting: Well, I'm supposed to go down to Memphis to do a Katrina benefit in May, so I'm kind of looking forward to that and figuring out what I'm going to play. I've not been to Memphis, so that looks like it should be very interesting.

2) Recording: I've got a studio in my home, so I'm going to get that up and running and try to create another CD. I'm kind of excited to see what kind of new things will show up on that.

1) Feeling, man: I'm still as passionate about music as I've always been.


First set starts at 9:30 p.m., Saturday, March 4, Baker's Keyboard Lounge, 20510 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-345-6300.

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