John "Tbone" Paxton, trombone, vocals
One of John “Tbone” Paxton’s prize possessions hangs just above his piano. It’s a caricature drawing of his late father, musician Fred Paxton, drawn in 1949 at the London Chop House. The elder Paxton was a highly regarded pianist, clarinetist and music teacher. Many of Detroit’s great bebop artists had been students in the school where he taught music, and he was a regular on Detroit’s jazz scene. Among his frequent gigs was the London Chop House, where he played piano for five decades.
“He was quite a guy, my dad,” says Tbone, who now plays the London Chop House just as his father had a generation ago. “Definitely my greatest musical influence in life.”
Following in his father’s musical steps, Tbone is a true son of the jazz age. He has played with many of Detroit’s great band leaders. Fans of Detroit Music Factory recording group Planet D Nonet know Tbone as the band’s featured singer and trombone soloist, but he has also shared stages with such prominent jazz, blues and R&B luminaries as Earl King, Sir Mack Rice, Pinetop Perkins and Eddie Palmieri.
Tbone’s discography spans dozens and dozens of recording projects, but his 2019 release on Detroit Music Factory, “Back in Your Own Backyard,” marks the first time he’s the featured artist on a full-length CD. He’s joined on the record by his longtime musical partner and fellow Detroit Music Factory recording artist, drummer RJ Spangler, as well as the RJ Spangler Quartet, and a number of guest artists.
RJ Spangler, congas, percussion
Drummer RJ Spangler has been on the Detroit music scene for many years, earning his first Motor City Music Award in 1982 with a band he co-founded called the Sun Messengers. After 15 years as a Messenger, RJ went on to run the band for Detroit blues guitar master Johnnie Bassett. With Johnnie, RJ he orchestrated tours coast to coast in both the US and Canada as well as many trips to Europe.
His resumé includes blues and R&B gigs with Eddie Kirkland, The Drifters, Earl King, Wanda Rouzan, James “Thunderbird” Davis, Big Jay McNeely, Larry McCray, Francine Reed, Tad Robinson, Shawn Pittman, Sir Mack Rice/the Falcons with Eddie Floyd, Johnny Adams, Bob Schultz, Eddie Bo, Andre Williams, Nathaniel Mayer, Robert Penn, Eddie & Jimmy Burns, Pinetop Perkins, Ron Levy, Shirley King, James Montgomery, Martha & the Vandellas, Catfish Hodge, Harmonica Shah, Mr. Bo, Willie D. Warren, Thornetta Davis, Jos’lyn B, Geno Parks, the Griswald Brothers and jazz gigs with James Carter, Faruq Z. Bey, Bill Heid, Leon Thomas, Marcus Belgrave, Michael Ray & the Cosmic Krewe and Roy Brooks.
Today he is a WC Handy nominated drummer, producer of CDs & live events & guiding force behind the Planet D Nonet in addition to leading a quartet with trombonist/singer Tbone Paxton.
RJ is on over 70 nationally available CDs.
Offstage, RJ Spangler has been the artistic director and co-founder of the Jazzin on the River Festival in Detroit for the past 12 years and for over 20 years he has been co-producer/co-founder of the Anti-Freeze Blues Festival in Ferndale. For 10 years he booked the Soul Jazz Sunday series at the Cadieux Cafe in Detroit. He also books a blues concert series at the Plymouth Elks. His Live@the Scarab Series is recipient of a Knight Foundation grant. He is also the full-time Entertainment Director at Cliff Bell’s Jazz Club in downtown Detroit. He is also a contributing author to Heaven Was Detroit (WSU Press, 2017), as well contributing articles to jazz & blues publications in both the US & the UK.
Phillip J. Hale, piano
Phillip J. Hale is a native Detroit musician who plays multiple genres, including blues, jazz, and urban progressive music. He has been with Detroit’s Queen of the Blues, Thornetta Davis, for many years, touring throughout the US and Europe. He has also played with artists such as Martha Reeves and George Clinton. He was on the PD9 Township Jazz Project with Tbone Paxton and RJ Spangler in 2015. Phil’s focus is always about embracing new elements in music and promoting genres that manifest his spiritual values.
Daniel Bennett, tenor sax
Daniel Bennett is a saxophonist and composer based in Ann Arbor, and holds a BFA in Jazz Studies and Saxophone Performance from the University of Michigan. To date, his collaborators include Larval, Nomo, Warren Defever, Colin Stetson, Fred Thomas, Land and Buildings. Dan also appears with Tbone Paxton & RJ Spangler in the 2015 release by the PD9 Township Jazz Project.
Kasan Belgrave, alto sax, flute
Multi-woodwind-instrumentalist and Detroit native Kasan Belgrave holds a unique stance in the city as one of the young torchbearers of the Detroit jazz collective. His father, the late maestro trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, laid a foundation for him as he continues to carry on the legacy of Detroit jazz royalty. Following close to his father’s strides, Kasan takes pride in contributing to Detroit’s rich pedigree of musical mentorship, as he strives to continue passing down the knowledge and exposure of jazz music to generations after him.
The 23-yr-old is a recent graduate of University of Michigan, and also currently holds a graduate assistantship under bassist Prof. Rodney Whitaker at Michigan State University. Belgrave has shared the stage with many greats such as Nicholas Payton, Barry Harris, Benny Green, Rodney Whitaker, Theo Crocker, Robert Hurst, Karriem Riggins, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the Jazz @ Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis.
Kasan has performed around the globe. He attended a jazz summer clinic that his father ran at the University of California-Berkeley in 2011, where he met flautist Elena Pinderhughes, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and Walter Smith III. He traveled to Barbados in 2013, along with saxophonist Marcus Elliott and pianist Ian Finkelstein, where they performed a masterclass and concert sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. He’s performed frequently at the Detroit Jazz Festival, as a sideman for Wendell Harrison, Rob Pipho, Rick Margitza, Nicholas Payton, and Detroit bassist Ali Bey.
In 2017, he performed a duet with the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin in her last ever live Detroit performance at the Music Hall.
Kurt Krahnke, bass
Bassist Kurt Krahnke is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, but also studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. He toured the East coast with Ron Levy for two years and then returned to Detroit, where he taught with the Summer Music Program under the direction of Wendell Harrison. Since his return to Michigan, Krahnke has played with Phil Lasley, Jimmy Giuffre, Joe Henderson, Sonny Fortune, Pinetop Perkins, Russell Green, and toured and recorded with Leon Thomas. In 1989, Kurt performed as a finalist in the Hennessey Jazz Search in Hollywood, CA, with the Steve Wood/Brad Felt Quintet. Krahnke played and toured with the acclaimed JC Heard Orchestra from 1986-89 and received the Best Jazz Bassist award from the Metro-Times. Kurt has recorded and played with Paul VornHagen for eight years and continues to serve as a mentor for young bassists in the region.
Sean Perlmutter, drums
Sean Perlmutter is a drummer, bandleader, composer, and music educator living and working in the Detroit area. He began playing and teaching professionally at age 16 and moved to Detroit at age 18 to immerse himself in its rich musical tradition and attend Wayne State University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a Concentration in Jazz Studies. Perlmutter has a ravenous appetite as a listener, absorbing and drawing inspiration from music across genres and cultures . He works in an equally wide range of musical contexts, spanning from Early Jazz to Funk to Free Improvisation and beyond; striving to serve the music while also applying his personal, undulating rhythmic approach.