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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Miami, FL
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    The must know list

    What 15 or 20 standards every musician attending jam sessions should know?

    I am very curious about this specially depending on where you live which maybe makes a diffrence.

  2. #2
    There are lots of lists on-line. For the most part, they are consistent with my experience in the San Francisco area.

    One thing I've noticed is that it does depend on the level of the players. Once in a while I go to a jam where the house band takes a turn now and then. They are monster players.

    When the usual suspects play, the tunes have included Stella, ATTYA, Softly as a Morning Sunrise, Wine and Roses, Another You. Last time, I called Beautiful Love and the leader rejected it -- there were some young horn players and he didn't think they'd all know it. So I called Softly as a Morning Sunrise. They all knew that.

    When the house band plays it has been Inner Urge played very fast, and a Monk tune I'd never heard before with a lot of hits. Some other less familiar tunes. No tin pan alley. They let you play if you know the tune, but they don't dumb it down. For example, they took Inner Urge into outer space with spontaneous hits (unless there's a version they knew and I don't -- the hits they played aren't in the original) crossing the bar lines and superimposing one time on another, with the changes whipping by. I don't know if they'd played it a thousand times before or never.

    I applied my one jam session rule. If you haven't mastered the tune, step away from the guitar.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    33
    I agree with Roger that you can find "must know" lists all over the interwebs, but yes, some tunes are regional. When I lived in Scotland, for example, the players I gigged with didn't really play bossa novas, which are very standard in the US.

    Aimee Nolte's list is pretty good. She actually shows the list and plays a snippet of each one starting at 6:08.


  4. #4
    Autumn Leaves, Summertime, All The Things You Are, and if they play anything else grab another beer. By which time you won't be able to play anyway so they'll forgive you.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2015
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    Hahaahha it is curious that these lists never include some of my faves like Night in Tunisia or Four

  6. #6
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    Nov 2008
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    Greenacres, FL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufes View Post
    Hahaahha it is curious that these lists never include some of my faves like Night in Tunisia or Four
    What popped into head when I read this was an experience I had yesterday when an old friend (40 years) met my girlfiend (2 years) for the first time. We weren't playing tunes but talking and the talk was informed by references to songs and movies and such. I would have to think---and they would be doing the same thing--- how to say something---which idiom to use---that all 3 of us would enjoy? So in a sense it's what "tune" can I expect everyone else at this jam session to know? Not really the same as 'what is my favorite tune?' There can be overlap or not. For example, I've never liked the lyric to "ATTYA." It doesn't do it for me. ("Stardust," either.) But I get they are must-know tunes. But not my favorites. Among my favorites is "Mean To Me" which almost never makes a 'must-know' list. And that's okay: I play it by myself anyway!
    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
    Groucho Marx

  7. #7
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    Oct 2009
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    East of Eden
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    In my neck of the swamp, you just need to know Neil Young's "Down by the River" and jam on it for a whole hour.

  8. #8
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    Aug 2012
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    Hong Kong
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    181
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I applied my one jam session rule. If you haven't mastered the tune, step away from the guitar.
    This is really great advice that unfortunately is not often considered. Especially where i am where it would be considered a loss of face. Much better to stumble cluelessly through the music with your head buried in Ireal book than admit that playing means a nod to the tradition in knowing tunes. But i think this way of thinking is stronger in the US than asia. certainly when I've visited in New York there is absolutely no shame in saying you don't know a tune and more respectful to everyone rather than blindly butchering the tune and losing the form.
    BTW did you find out the monk tune? can only think of evidence as having a lot of hits but I'm not an expert on his repertoire, though i did impress someone by mentioning a very rarely played monk tune gallups gallop haha
    cheers!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzism View Post
    This is really great advice that unfortunately is not often considered. Especially where i am where it would be considered a loss of face. Much better to stumble cluelessly through the music with your head buried in Ireal book than admit that playing means a nod to the tradition in knowing tunes. But i think this way of thinking is stronger in the US than asia. certainly when I've visited in New York there is absolutely no shame in saying you don't know a tune and more respectful to everyone rather than blindly butchering the tune and losing the form.
    BTW did you find out the monk tune? can only think of evidence as having a lot of hits but I'm not an expert on his repertoire, though i did impress someone by mentioning a very rarely played monk tune gallups gallop haha
    cheers!
    Evidence was the tune.

    http://jazzcombustion.com/media/pdf/...ad-Sheet-C.pdf

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I applied my one jam session rule. If you haven't mastered the tune, step away from the guitar.
    I think that's a great rule!
    It's a corollary of "when in doubt, lay out."

    There hundreds of tunes that qualify as standards (-depending on who is doing the qualifying) and then there are a lot of blues and rhythm / vamp tunes that might not be regarded as standards but could be called at a jam session, and then there are some difficult tunes that seasoned players like to play but do not expect "everyone" at a jam session to know (or f*ck up by trying to play along when they're clearly lost). It would be a rare (and likely old) bird who knew them all. And if you're that guy, good for you! But if you're not, don't pretend you are becuase "be sure your sins will find you out."

    When playing with others, if you don't know it, just say you don't know it. Let those who do know it enjoy themselves. They earned that right. And you've got some feedback that might prompt you to work up another tune....
    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
    Groucho Marx

  11. #11
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    Apr 2013
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    New York, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufes View Post
    Hahaahha it is curious that these lists never include some of my faves like Night in Tunisia or Four
    Those are on my list (they definitely get called at jams).

    John
    Last edited by John A.; 12-11-2018 at 06:13 PM.

  12. #12
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    Mar 2015
    Location
    San Francisco, CA and Santa Cruz, CA
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    3,251
    I have not been to a jam session in years (too busy playing gigs, I suppose) but here are my thoughts:

    Memorizing tunes by rote muscle memory will only get you so far. We can learn about 40-50 tunes that way and then we start to forget the older ones as we learn new ones. A better approach is ear training. If you can hear harmonies and develop the skill to quickly play what you are hearing, you can learn almost any tune in one or two passes. This skill will allow you to be able to play hundreds of tunes. If I am sitting in with pro players and they call a tune I do not know, I sit it out until I have the tune in my ears and can play it. Some tunes are so complex that a lot of study is required before one can play well on them (Wayne Shorter tunes come to mind), others can be learned pretty fast. I know better than to try to play over a complex tune that I have not studied.

    @ Rick When guys call tunes like Inner Urge and Evidence at uptempo speeds at a jam, that signals too much ego on the bandstand for my taste. Clearly they have studied those obscure tunes to great length and are simply beating their chests in some kind of Tarzan call at the rest of the players who have not done so. I have never thought of jazz as a competitive sport, but clearly others have.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    I have not been to a jam session in years (too busy playing gigs, I suppose) but here are my thoughts:

    Memorizing tunes by rote muscle memory will only get you so far. We can learn about 40-50 tunes that way and then we start to forget the older ones as we learn new ones. A better approach is ear training. If you can hear harmonies and develop the skill to quickly play what you are hearing, you can learn almost any tune in one or two passes. This skill will allow you to be able to play hundreds of tunes. If I am sitting in with pro players and they call a tune I do not know, I sit it out until I have the tune in my ears and can play it. Some tunes are so complex that a lot of study is required before one can play well on them (Wayne Shorter tunes come to mind), others can be learned pretty fast. I know better than to try to play over a complex tune that I have not studied.

    @ Rick When guys call tunes like Inner Urge and Evidence at uptempo speeds at a jam, that signals too much ego on the bandstand for my taste. Clearly they have studied those obscure tunes to great length and are simply beating their chests in some kind of Tarzan call at the rest of the players who have not done so. I have never thought of jazz as a competitive sport, but clearly others have.
    This session was at the Penrose in Oakland. They have the house band play a few tunes in between the jam tunes. Monster players.

    During the jam tunes, they couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating. When I called Beautiful Love they asked me to pick something else because some of the young guys might not have known it.

    I think the idea is to treat the audience (and themselves) to some more sophisticated music as part of the evening. Inner Urge came out of that. Evidence, on the other hand, emerged because the players up there at the moment all happened to know it.

    Sometimes, with great players, knowing the tune isn't enough. You also have to be able to follow where they take it. And, when you get some guys who can function at that level, sooner or later, they'll want to go there. So, this session accommodated both ends of the spectrum.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    I have not been to a jam session in years (too busy playing gigs, I suppose) but here are my thoughts:

    Memorizing tunes by rote muscle memory will only get you so far. We can learn about 40-50 tunes that way and then we start to forget the older ones as we learn new ones. A better approach is ear training. If you can hear harmonies and develop the skill to quickly play what you are hearing, you can learn almost any tune in one or two passes. .
    A great point. I think that you learn tunes the way anybody learns a tune they they can hum or sing. It doesn't require effort to know how the tune sounds.

    What the skilled musician can do is play it on the fly based on the sound in the mind's ear -- not by verbal strategies.

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