Bob James Trio Serving up Espresso at the Dennos Museum Center’s Milliken Auditorium.

The Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College will present the Grammy Award winning Jazz pianist Bob James with the Bob James Trio on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 8:00 PM in the Milliken Auditorium. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door, $30 for Museum Members plus fees. Tickets may be purchased online at and, or by calling the Museum at 231-995-1055 or MyNorth Tickets at 1-800-836-0717.

Bob James returns to the Milliken Auditorium with the Bob James Trio, featuring James on piano, Ron Otis on drums, and Michael Palazzolo on bass in a concert featuring music from his latest album release Espresso.

Bob James is a legendary jazz musician. He was discovered by Quincy Jones, became the musical director for Sarah Vaughn, founded the band Fourplay and composed the music for the TV show Taxi of which “Angela” became international hit. He has recorded 50 albums, while touring and performing for audiences around the world, most recently with the debut of Espresso.

“I wanted to do this as part of a trio — piano, bass and drums.” Says Bob James about Espresso, “With Fourplay and in other larger settings, I loved that I could solo and then kind of disappear into the setting to accompany other soloists. To play in a trio requires a different level of commitment, with the piano being much more prominent. You need perhaps a greater degree of optimism and bravery. That was how I felt when I first got into music. Espresso is my attempt to recapture that.”

This concert is extra special for Gene Jenneman, Executive Director of the Dennos Museum Center who will be retiring from the Dennos on June 30, 2019 after over 30 years of first planning the facility and then serving as its founding director since July of 1991. “This concert is special to me as it will be the last concert I produce as Director of the museum, and so is Bob James who has performed numerous concerts in Milliken for the Dennos,” says Jenneman, “Bob’s project Angels of Shanghai which we hosted the US premier in 2006, would eventually take me back to China and with it would come an ongoing involvement with the visual and performing arts China that would have a significant impact on our programming at the Dennos and me, both personally and professionally.”

For this performance Bob will be joined on stage by Ron Otis who will be filling in for Billy Kilson. Kilson who is part of the original Espresso trio but could not be at this concert. Otis is one of the most established sidemen in contemporary American jazz. The Detroit based drummer is renowned for his versatility, improvisation and impeccable timing—incorporating syncopated rhythms and funky accenting. Otis has toured with guitarist Earl Klugh and pianist Bob James for over a decade. He also played drums for the music icon Aretha Franklin.

Michael Palazzolo, who plays bass on the album, is a newcomer from Detroit that Downbeat Magazine says, “brings a sense of melody and groove far beyond his years.”  A 2013 graduate of Wayne State University, Palazzolo first came to James’ attention four years ago through guitarist Perry Hughes.  James was impressed after performing with him in NYC saying, “He’s challenged me more than I’ve challenged him.”

Concert ticket holders have free access to the museum’s galleries one hour before the concert and for a post-concert reception with the performers in the Zimmerman Court to purchase CDs and have them signed by the performers.

The 2018-2019 performance season at the Dennos Museum Center is made possible with support from the Robert T and Ruth Haidt Trust, and the Osterlin Performance Endowment, with media support from  WNMC 90.7, TV 7&4 and 29&8. Housing for our performers is provided by the Cambria Suites.

The Dennos Museum Center is open daily 10 AM to 5 PM, Thursday’s until 8 PM and Sundays 1-5 PM. For more information on the Museum and its programs, go to or call 231-995-1055. The Dennos Museum Center is located at 1410 College Dr., Traverse City, MI 49686, at the entrance to the campus of Northwestern Michigan College.