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  1. #1

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    You've put it off long enough.?


    So you head along to your first local jam session, down at the pub on the corner.



    The stale beer smell hits you as you enter the dimly lit scene. You see the house band in the corner cutting through rhythm changes with keen jazz enthusiasts intently listening to every nuanced note being played.



    Shakily, you open up your guitar case.



    You try to assume an air of confidence as you introduce yourself to Kyle, the bandleader. With a narrowed gaze, he gives you a thinly veiled pop quiz on jazz to assess whether you "know your stuff".



    Your moment has come. You're summoned for your turn on the bandstand. There's an awkward pause on stage, and the pianist looks at you puzzled.



    Oh yeah, it's time to count it off.



    You play the head and then do some comping. So far, so good.



    But then Kyle gives you "the nod". It's time for you to take an improvised solo.



    But it doesn't go to plan.



    You're not keeping up with the changes. You frantically try to switch between scale and arpeggio patterns in vain...



    The "crash and burn" begins, and an uncomfortable feeling starts to well in the pit of your stomach.



    Through the cascade of wrong notes, sloppy rhythms and the predictable eye-rolling from your other band members, that little voice inside your head says "I told you that you weren't ready for this"...


    Noooooooooo........well i got the email where this was attached.....lol

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  3. #2

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    Band leader's name is Kyle.

    RED FLAG.

  4. #3
    lol.often wondered who Kyle was next clip meet Kyle

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  6. #5

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    Sounds like a good learning experience to me

  7. #6

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    Pity he's not a horn player, he'd be world famous :-)

  8. #7

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    The stuff of nightmares.

    True story...I was walking to class one Wednesday in med school, and a classmate asked if I had studied for the Pharmacology test that day?

    "No, why? Pharm tests are on Thursdays."

    "Didn't you hear the announcement? It was moved up to Wednesday this week."

    Oops...thinking if I could fake a major illness, maybe a small seizure or something. Oh well at least I had 20 minutes til class started.

    I didn't do well on the exam. It wasn't in the single digits, but probably the lowest I've ever scored on an exam in my life.

  9. #8

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    This could be the description of a nightmare...or sadly, a too-common reality. It's an example of something that's wrong with jazz culture- people getting shamed and embarrassed when they're trying to learn, "vibed" by the cool kids.

    I've had some awkward moments at jam sessions or sitting in- and some great ones, too. You never know.

    I've tried other scenes, though- and found out things don't have to be that way. I've gone to open mics and seen painfully shy singer/songwriters, or people just getting started- and after a few times and lots of audience encouragement, they became good performers. I've gone to bluegrass jams, sat in a circle playing songs I didn't know- and just had fun playing solos. And I got to play on every tune, not just one or 2.

    I think "open jams" should be a lot more open, and without the 'tude.

  10. #9

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    I think jams help the musicians more if they have relatively high standards. Not to mention the patrons and the venue. Nothing is wrong with getting your butt kicked by more experienced musicians. Failure should feed drive.

    I'm generally very conservative about tunes I play at jazz jams. I only take part in tunes I know very well. The band leader in one of the jams I was going to before covid kept telling me that I should be more brave and stay on the stage when I don't know the tunes. I just don't enjoy that feeling.

    People should be supportive but still expect you to maintain a high standard.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    The stuff of nightmares.

    True story...I was walking to class one Wednesday in med school, and a classmate asked if I had studied for the Pharmacology test that day?

    "No, why? Pharm tests are on Thursdays."

    "Didn't you hear the announcement? It was moved up to Wednesday this week."

    Oops...thinking if I could fake a major illness, maybe a small seizure or something. Oh well at least I had 20 minutes til class started.

    I didn't do well on the exam. It wasn't in the single digits, but probably the lowest I've ever scored on an exam in my life.
    Hey, its like they say--

    "What do you call somebody who graduates at the bottom of their med school class?"

    "Doctor."

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I think jams help the musicians more if they have relatively high standards. Not to mention the patrons and the venue. Nothing is wrong with getting your butt kicked by more experienced musicians. Failure should feed drive.

    I'm generally very conservative about tunes I play at jazz jams. I only take part in tunes I know very well. The band leader in one of the jams I was going to before covid kept telling me that I should be more brave and stay on the stage when I don't know the tunes. I just don't enjoy that feeling.

    People should be supportive but still expect you to maintain a high standard.
    Dizzy Gillespie describes in his autobiography how the jams in Minton’s Playhouse went. He talks about his saxophone player who was so awful that they prayed every night for him not to show up.

    Nevertheless, when he arrived, he got his turn just like everyone else.


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  13. #12

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    If you want to be a well rounded jazz player you're supposed to (it says somewhere) be able to handle a jam.

    The correct way to do this (it says here) is to be an audience member long enough to figure out what kind of jam it is. Then, make an informed decision about whether you're a player at that level.

    That can be tougher than it sounds. I think it's fair to say that an intermediate player, looking for his first jam, may have no idea what really goes on when you're on the bandstand. for example, on another thread a bunch of us took a shot at Beatrice. Probably doesn't seem that much of a reach. But listen to Robert Glasper's recording that somebody was kind enough to post. Could you handle playing it like that? Suddenly, it's double time feel and a lot of the changes are more implied than clearly stated. If you lose your place can you find it again? Can you handle the tempo -- or whereever else they spontaenously take the tune?

    Then there's the interpersonal dimension. Is the idea for everyone to have a good time? Or is it to leave blood on the floor?

    I recall one jam where the leader, a well known player, started yelling "no books, no books!" when someone had the gall to bring out a chart. He then called all the tunes. Really? If you're the one who says "no books", maybe you shouldn't call the tunes. The bassist was a high level pro player and even he didn't know all the tunes. The leader whispered the changes to him at times and left everyone else to their own devices. Either you could figure out the changes on the fly or you couldn't.

    Just to be clear, I've posted before about a local jam led by Tony Peebles, a great player. The preceding paragraph is not about him. Mr. Peebles was a terrific jam session host, accommodating and generous. When I showed up with my guitar case, he greeted me, explained what would happen, called me up when it was my turn, asked me to pick a tune, and played the melody when I asked him to do that. Couldn't have been nicer. I called I Should Care. He asked me to call something else, pointing out that some of the horn players at the jam were unlikely to know it. We played Another You instead. Very considerate towards the other participants. No books at that jam btw. But, there is a B3 there with the organist chording and kicking bass. It looked like he had IRealPro up. The rest of us had to know the tune. Well within the ballpark of what that kind of jam should be IMO.

    One last comment. Although I love to play, I haven't always enjoyed jams. I recall one in a big room with maybe a hundred or so people in the audience. The music seemed very loud to me. I'm much more comfortable playing more quietly, partly because of hearing problems. So, I had to wear earplugs, which muffle the sound (despite them being custom Etymotics). Getting set up had to be quick and I play with a pedal board. I put in batteries to avoid having to plug it in -- which would have required finding an outlet in the dark. It all felt very rushed, followed, a few seconds later, by the need to relax enough to play well.

    Also no time to swap in an amp - one of the other players was kind enough to approach me and plug me into his Katana (only time I used one). It turned out to be okay, but I couldn't reach it, so no adjustment was possible at the amp. I can control my sound from the pedalboard, but there was no time for that. I like to play with a lot of dynamics, but it proved impossible. Maybe it wasn't even appropriate for the setting. I never got comfortable with the sound. It all felt like a dull roar (again, at least partly a reflection of hearing issues). And, all that said, I enjoyed it when I was in the audience. It just felt uncomfortable when I was playing. Upon reflection, I didn't adequately appreciate the nature of the jam. They wanted high energy versions of the tunes to maintain a certain atmosphere -- and everyone else was on that page. I was trying to play the way I hear the music -- and it just didn't fit that well. Live and learn.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 01-28-2021 at 03:35 PM.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Dizzy Gillespie describes in his autobiography how the jams in Minton’s Playhouse went. He talks about his saxophone player who was so awful that they prayed every night for him not to show up.

    Nevertheless, when he arrived, he got his turn just like everyone else.


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    Miles Davis tells a story in his autobiography about an awful saxophonist ( or as Miles puts it , " a no-playing motherfucker " ) who got beaten up by an outraged music lover , also at the legendary Monday night at Minton's .

    I always liked the ' get up and play or get off the stand ' ethos of jam sessions . It's character building .