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Fri, Nov 10


Merrimans' Playhouse

The Paxton/Spangler Band

On any given night the the Paxton/Spangler Band performs great song by Fats Waller, Hoagie Carmichael, Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams, Earl King, Danny Barker, Duke Ellington, Roy Ayers, Leon Russell, Jimmy Cliff, Nat King Cole and of course, Louis Jordan. They're touring to celebrate album "Joys".

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The Paxton/Spangler Band
The Paxton/Spangler Band

Time & Location

Nov 10, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, Suite 135, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $15 General/$5 Student.

Last winter, Eastlawn Records released "Joys" by Tbone Paxton which did well on the JazzWeek and Roots Report charts and of course received significant airplay here in Michigan. Tbone and his longtime musical partner RJ Spangler are taking the five piece band out for a few dates in November. On any given night the the Paxton/Spangler Band performs great song by Fats Waller, Hoagie Carmichael, Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams, Earl King, Danny Barker, Duke Ellington, Roy Ayers, Leon Russell, Jimmy Cliff, Nat King Cole and of course, Louis Jordan. Tbone and RJ have first-hand experience backing New Orleans greats so that music is always front and center in their shows.

Tbone Paxton - trombone/lead vocals

RJ Spangler - congas, tambourine, background vocals 

Matt LoRusso - guitar, background vocals

Trevor Lamb - string bass, background vocals

Sean Perlmutter - drums, cowbell

Lifelong buddy's RJ Spangler & Tbone Paxton started working together in 1980 with a very popular band around Detroit called the Sun Messengers. They toured the east coast, Midwest and deep south for a number of years. Back then Tbone was awarded a Motor City Music Award for best trombonist. Since that time, he has also become quite an engaging vocalist. In fact, he has been nominated a number of years in a row now as best jazz vocalist at the Detroit Music Awards. The two are cornerstone members of the 10 pc Planet D Nonet, and as such, have toured to 11 states, released as many CDs and garnered 9 Detroit Music Awards. Now they offer this stripped-down project – just five musicians, with a debut CD out nationally in 2020 and a 2nd CD released in 2023. 

Their new project, is a follow-up effort to 2020’s vocal jazz recording featuring Tbone, “Back in Your Own Backyard,” on the Detroit Music Factory imprint. 

Review of "Joys" by Gary Graff:

Naming his second solo album “Joys” was a no-brainer way for John “Tbone” Paxton to sum up his feelings about the 11 tracks on it. “I feel these songs represent little gems of joy for me, and I feel when I perform them for people, they feel that momentary magic of joy, too,” says the trombonist and singer, a Detroit area music veteran who now resides in Royal Oak and performs regularly with Planet D Nonet and the Paxton/Spangler Band. Paxton releases “Joy” on Friday, Jan. 20, and previews the material with a pair of performances this week at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grosse Pointe.

“Joys,” which was recorded at Tempermill studios in Ferndale and co-produced by RJ Spangler and Scott Strawbridge, who passed away during December, certainly digs deep into music that’s integral to Paxton’s makeup. It features his takes on material such as Fats Waller’s “Sweet and Slow,” Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind,” John Hendricks’ English language version of “Estate,” Dr. John’s “Junco Partner,” Louis Jordan’s “Push-Ka Pee-Shee Pie” and Grant Green’s “Cease the Bombing,” which was released during December to raise money for Ukrainian relief efforts. And stylistically “Joys” runs a wide stylistic gamut, from bossa nova to blues, crooner ballads to calypso.

“I wanted to present more of the type of diversity of musics than I did on the first one,” explains Paxton, 62, whose first solo album, “Back In Your Own Backyard,” came out during February of 2020. “I’ve had so many musical influences in my life that had a big impact on me. The styles that I do are the direct result of being exposed to so much music, from the time I was born, really, and just wanting to play all of them.”

Music is part of Paxton’s DNA, of course. The youngest of nine children raised on Detroit’s East Side, his father Fred Paxton was a music teacher in Detroit Public Schools as well as an active performing musician whose gigs included nearly 50 years as house pianist at the London Chop House. “Mom and dad had an amazing collection of classic jazz recordings, orchestral recordings, all the great Broadway and opera — I grew up on that stuff,” Paxton recalls. He also heard plenty of the rock music favored by his siblings — two older brothers also became professional musicians — but he “always leaned in to the jazz music” when it came to his own tastes as both a listener and player.

“There’s something about the nature and the swing and the honesty and the purity of that music, and of the lyrical content, and that’s what I really gravitated towards,” Paxton remembers. “Growing up with the Count Basie Orchestra on Decca (Records), Art Tatum, Billie Holiday, early Nat King Cole, Earl Garner…and then hearing my jazz play around the house and going to see his great jazz band, that’s what I connected with.”

This was the PR sheet for his first CD:

John “Tbone” Paxton Takes the Spotlight in “Back in Your Own Backyard”:

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 Mac 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.

The tracks on “Back in Your Own Backyard” are a selection of pre-WWII jazz and transitional rhythm and blues tunes. They’re not the most famous tunes, but they’re some of the most moving. This isn’t Gershwin or Cole Porter; these are tunes from the dark corners of “The Great American Songbook,” or as Tbone likes to call them, “the non-standard standards.”

Many of the tunes on “Back in Your Own Backyard” were curated for their powerful lyrics, and “Room With a View of the Blues” is no exception. It’s a song that Tbone performed regularly with one of the world’s great soul and bluesmen, the late Johnny Adams. It’s a song that speaks to the loneliness of finding yourself in a place where you’re not with another person, and the longing for that missing connectedness. The lyrics are heavy with a sense of loss, and Tbone’s interpretation is fraught with honesty and emotion.

The paired down arrangement on the track is decidedly bluesy. The horns are simple and the solos, as any good blues tune should, feature guitar and piano.Perhaps one of the reasons “Back in Your Own Backyard” hits you in all the right places is that Tbone draws on the strengths of the musicians on the record.“It’s not just about ‘what can you play for me,’” he says of the sessions and the session players, “but ‘what ideas can you contribute to the success of the track?’ Everybody had great suggestions. It was very collaborative.” On the tune “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” Tbone and alto saxophone player Keith Kaminski do a great job working together to come up with a three-part expansion on Louis Jordan’s original intro. With the alto saxophone playing that familiar melody, Kaminski’s arrangement voices it down through the section with the trumpet playing the second voice and the tenor sax playing the third.

The album’s lone instrumental is “Petite Fleur” by legendary New Orleans clarinetist Sidney Bechet. Chris Tabaczyski’s metal clarinet does a beautiful job of mimicking the brightness of the C melody saxophone Bechet was known to play. The arrangement features a fluid musical conversation between Tabaczyski and Tbone, each in turn playing the melody, while the other plays harmony around him, always in the open space, never on top. Then each time they came to a big turnaround, they played in two-part harmony. The effect is an exotic and plaintiff mood; dual like the light at twilight.

Tbone’s performance throughout the record is much like his live performances. Behind the trombone, he connects with his audience through his soulful phrasing and sense of swing. When he steps out as a singer, he breaks down the distance between the music and the listener with a vocal delivery that imbues the lyrics with personal meaning. When he sings, he feels it, and so do you.“

My perspective is from live performance,” he says. “It’s what I’ve done my whole life. My main concern as an artist is to be emotionally honest and authentic. When you do that, people get it. They understand the music.”While the music of “Back in Your Own Backyard” was written nearly a hundred years ago, Tbone finds energy in a growing number of younger listeners. He points out that the live music scene in New Orleans is filled with music lovers in their 20s and 30s that are really engaged with pre-war jazz from a deep cultural understanding.“

Young people are really digging reaching back in time,” says Tbone. “Because it’s jazz, there’s still freshness and spontaneity in the experience. It’s still being performed live so they’re able to appreciate it for the artistry that it is.”

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services Private Trust Foundations, which include grants from the Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation (2020-2021; 2022-2023 seasons), the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation (2021-2022; 2022-2023 seasons), and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust (2021-2022; 2022-2023 season). Special concert event support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season). Activities are made possible in part by the Arts Organization Support (AOS), Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency (2023-2024 season).

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation (2020-2023 seasons).

The Student and Home Grown Series concerts made possible, in part, with support from the ArtsEverywhere Grant from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the Arts Project Support Grant and the Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission.


  • General

    $15 Advanced or Door

    Sale ended
  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

    Sale ended



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