Palmer Woods Music in Homes Grand Finale concerts presents a double header of hot music — and dancing — for the Summer Solstice weekend. Concerts are held on the grounds of a beautiful Palmer Woods home (or nearby venue, in the event of rain) and include a wonderful meal at intermission and splendid company throughout.
Motown & Beyond with Al McKenzie’s Ensemble on Friday, June 21 kicks off the weekend. The ensemble includes Al McKenzie, piano; Penny Wells, vocals; Rayse Biggs, trumpet; Jeff Canady, drums; and Darrel Smith, bass.
Then, on Saturday, June 22, Orquesta La Inspiracion, performs. Prior to the concert, dance instructors from the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Metro Detroit will teach a free Salsa and Merengue class to help our guests hone their moves past the Cha Cha Cha.
As we approach the anniversary of the passing of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, we present the famed Al McKenzie, her final music director. He’s a Detroit treasure known for collaborating, performing, arranging or directing some of the heros of Motown and R & B. A longtime music director for the Temptations, his credits read like a who’s who of music: The Spinners, Jean Carne, The Four Tops, Mary Wilson, The Supremes, The Contours, Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Holiday, Kim Weston and Anita Baker.
Orquesta La Inspiracion, founded and led by Puerto Rican congera Ozzie Rivera and under the musical direction of pianist Bill Meyer, is a large ensemble of some of the Detroit area’s most vibrant and knowledgeable Latin musicians. La Inspiracion features a hot horn section led by saxophonist Joe LaBeau, explosive percussions driven by top Latin musicians including Ozzie, rhythmic bassist Eddie Caraballo, and soulful vocals with the dynamic Dulce Checkler & Pedro Bravo.
The image above is a detail from a photograph of Rayse Biggs in performance by Nina Simone Bentley. Other artists in the image are familiar to the world’s jazz community: on the left, Sean Dobbins on drums and, on the right, Ralphe Armstrong on bass.