Northwood University’s Michigan Campus Arts Council will host the RJ Spangler Trio on Tuesday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in Griswold Lecture Hall on Northwood University’s Midland campus located at 4000 Whiting Drive. This jazz trio will be joined by Detroit jazz sax great Larry Smith. This event is free and open to the community.Larry Smith was born and raised in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where he got his start playing jazz showing the ropes to his friend jazz guitar great George Benson. He moved to New York where he played with some big names such as organist Shirley Scott, drummer Joe Chambers and multi-saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. In Detroit Smith lead his own bands and also played in Detroit jazz master Roy Brooks Artistic Truth Band. He has a reputation as an old schoolkeeper of the bebop flame and is a killer when it comes to the blues where his specialty is ballads. Smith appeared as a special guest on James Carter’s 1996 Conversin’ with the Elders and Live at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge disc, which was released in 2004, and has toured with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin.
Drummer RJ Spangler has appeared on over 60 recordings and toured the U.S., Canada and Europe. He lectures on Detroit jazz and blues history and, beyond his trio, leads the Planet D Nonet swing band as well as a blues band. His latest release is “This Is What We Do” with RJ Spangler on the Eastlawn label.
Guitarist Oliver Nevels is another veteran player who has recorded and toured nationally with organist Charles Earland, appearing on two of his CDs, including “I Ain’t Jivin’ I’m Jammin” for the legendary Muse label. He also toured with organist Richard “Groove” Holmes.
Bassist Greg Cook is a Detroit mainstay, having proven himself by playing with the top of Detroit’s jazz scene—Geri Allen, Roy Brooks, Marcus Belgrave and many others. He has toured Europe with soul great Bettye LeVette and held down the bass chair in the Rat Pack show for countless performances.