For the past few years, Kate has had an upright bass teacher who is, well, a real teacher: Dan Pliskow. Early on, Alan accompanied her to a lesson. She muffed a walking line and said, “I’m sorry.” And he said, “You never say that in here. You just go again. Don’t apologize.” And he smiled, because what are we doing here? Playing some jazz. No need to get upset.

Dan was motoring well into his 70s, playing lots of gigs, teaching at Wayne State, teaching private lessons in his home. And then, as these things sometimes go, he took a turn. Cancer. He went into hospice care a few weeks ago and died Sunday, surrounded by his family. He had a lot of family. A while back, he gave me his autobiography, which he wrote when he turned 70, photocopied and passed around. What a treasure; Detroit was a force to be reckoned with in jazz in the middle of the 20th century, and he was in the thick of it – a journeyman musician. It was fascinating, reading about how it was possible, once, for a guy like him to not only work, but work most days a week, in clubs from one end of the metro to the other.

He had a chance to replace Paul Chambers in a tour, but couldn’t — he had four kids at home. So he played in the Playboy Club house band and on the Soupy Sales show, here and there, cobbling together a living a gig at a time. We watched the Elaine Stritch documentary a few months ago, and caught a glimpse of him in her stage band when she played at the Detroit Music Hall.

He was such a sweetie. I will miss just knowing he’s in the world.

Here’s a video that looks like it was shot about a month ago, and you can tell he was sick, but his elfin personality shines through. One thing I regret: I never got him and Kate together at the Detroit bass players’ annual picture at the Motown Museum.

Any other bloggage today?

Kate’s band, which recently shortened their name to the Deadly Vipers, dropped an album last week, and you all are invited to listen and enjoy. No pressure to buy, but some of you may be rock ‘n’ rollers.

Alan’s petting Wendy so much to her liking that she’s nearly moaning. That’s winter. Time to sign off.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life |

19 responses to “Losses.”

  1. Dexter said on February 10, 2015 at 3:05 am

    The Paul Chambers won’t light up here on my end.
    The Deadly Vipers kick major ass on this record.
    The bass players’ picture is really cool as well.
    It’s still Ice Station Zebra here and the ice is such a challenge to negotiate. Today I am going for crushed oyster shells for some traction. Of course we can’t use salt on the concrete, I’ll buy some ice-melt for that, but I am also buying a big bag of rock salt for a path to walk the dogs on. No let-up in sight, zero again in a couple days.
    Dan Pliskow seems like he was a real gentleman.

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  2. adrianne said on February 10, 2015 at 6:43 am

    I’m sorry to hear about the death of the jazzman and Kate’s bass teacher. Sounds like a real sweetheart. Me, I’m venturing forth into the snowglobe that has become the default winter weather. Uggh. Not looking forward to leaping over the geysers of ice and water that spew on every NYC corner in the winter.

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  3. David C. said on February 10, 2015 at 6:46 am

    If there is a cooler instrument than upright bass, I don’t know what it is. I also can’t think of a better legacy than who knows how many students playing the licks and living the lessons he taught. That’s a pretty well lived life. The Deadly Vipers album is excellent.

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  4. coozledad said on February 10, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Kate’s band is strong. We were listening to them a couple of days ago, and I told my wife they’re writing far more coherent stuff than my band in college.

    Sounds like they can do pretty much anything they want, and you can go anywhere from postpunk.
    Ask the Capulets.

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  5. nancy said on February 10, 2015 at 8:43 am

    When word started to spread about his illness, some people began posting their favorite Dan memories on social media. My favorite was one from a woman who ran a bed-and-breakfast in Toronto, where Dan and his wife Phyllis liked to stay. She said they checked out after one visit, and a day later she got a phone call from Dan, in search of a pair of pants he’d left behind. He told her where to look — between the mattress and box spring, an old touring musicians’ trick for de-wrinkling when you don’t have an iron.

    So she looked, and there they were, “and pretty well pressed, too.” I have to remember that one.

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  6. Deborah said on February 10, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and Kate’s musical mentor, he sounds like he was a swell guy.

    I watched Better Call Saul again last night, and I feel the same about it as I did the night before, good but not as good as BB (yet). I’ll keep watching.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 10, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Thank you; now I miss him, too, and never knew him.

    “A little whirlwind of commingling molecules had succeeded in confronting its own universe.”


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  8. Judybusy said on February 10, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of this man. He sounds kind and talented. I’m glad Kate got to be with such a gentle teacher.

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  9. nancy said on February 10, 2015 at 11:09 am

    When I go to the funeral tomorrow, I’m going to ask whether he got to see “Whiplash” in his final days. He was sort of the 180-degree-opposite version of J.K. Simmons’ character.

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  10. Jolene said on February 10, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Anyone seen “Whiplash”? I’m not usually one to say, “I can’t look at that,” when it comes to cinematic violence, but I found the clips of Simmons screaming at the kid almost unbearable. Would be interested in hearing others’ reactions to it.

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  11. Jolene said on February 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Reposting from a couple days ago: on TV tonight: a PBS Frontline report based on Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. First broadcast on Tuesday evening. Check your local listings for time and rebroadcasts later in the week.

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  12. Deborah said on February 10, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    A couple of weeks ago I was bragging about how I hadn’t had a cold since I’ve been retired and then I went to NY a week or so ago and of course since I’ve been back I’ve had a terrible cold. It’s finally getting a little better so today LB and I drove out to Abiquiu. Wow, was it nice to sit out in the sun, the high was supposed to have been 64 but I don’t think it got quite that warm. It was glorious though, blue, blue sky and a smattering of clouds over the Jemez mts to the Southwest with a very light wind. We’re back in Santa Fe now and I’m worn out. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and be a bit cooler but then it will warm up again. This is an unusual February here so far. I’m so glad I’m not in Chicago right now, but I will be going back there at the end of this month.

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  13. Jolene said on February 10, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Yikes! More changes in the comedy pantheon. Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show after 17 years as host. Here’s how he looked as a fresh-faced lad on the first night of the show.


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  14. Jolene said on February 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Here’s the announcements, which mentions spin-offs, but he has also helped to launch many individual careers: Steve Carrell, Steven Colbert, Rob Cordry, Ed Helms, Rob Riggle, Jihn Oliver, Asif Mandvi, Wyatt Cenac and more.

    Wikipedia has a list: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Daily_Show_correspondents

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  15. basset said on February 10, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    And I have yet to see the Daily Show. Not even sure my cable gets Comedy Central, suppose I should find out.

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  16. Sherri said on February 10, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    NBC News has suspended Brian Williams for six months without pay. Translation: our lawyers are still working on terminating that big contract we just signed with him, and this buys us some time.

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  17. Wim said on February 10, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    If I hadn’t come into it knowing the Deadly Vipers were high school rockers, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m not just saying it: they’re good.

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  18. alex said on February 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    NBC News has suspended Brian Williams for six months without pay. Translation: our lawyers are still working on terminating that big contract we just signed with him, and this buys us some time.

    Translation: Lara Logan is back on the air on CBS and everyone has forgotten that the biggest get of her career was the pathological liar who fed her a fable on Benghazigate — which she bought hook, line and sinker while fucking a right-winger.

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