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jam sessions

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509
one of the pubs in my home town has been trying to get a jazz jam night going and after several months of nonstarters has reluctantly given up on the idea, a shame because as a young player i got a lot of useful experience sitting in and jamming at just these types of events.
i guess maybe things have moved on to the point where if musicians aren't paid they dont play.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
one of the pubs in my home town has been trying to get a jazz jam night going and after several months of nonstarters has reluctantly given up on the idea, a shame because as a young player i got a lot of useful experience sitting in and jamming at just these types of events.
i guess maybe things have moved on to the point where if musicians aren't paid they don't play.
I can't believe I'm reading this! I live for jam sessions, in fact, on Monday night I made a round trip of 60 miles, to drive from my house in Rugby, to my evening class in Leamington and then all the way to Hinkley to a jam session. It's the first time I've been to this one, but I was amazed by the amount of people in the pub, it was rammed, and the amount of quality musicians there to ply their trade, all for the love of music!
I'm sorry to hear that your local session hasn't worked, I wonder if they didn't advertise it well, or perhaps they didn't give it long enough, or even didn't offer "incentives" to the musicians who did turn up. One jam I go to gives free drinks to those that play. They are full to the brim with non playing public so it must pay off in the long run.
I think if you can get a few musicians together, "the house band" then if no one else turns up to play, you can still put on a show. Then, over the next few months other players will start to show up as word gets around and things will start to swing.
Could it be that the term "Jazz Jam Night" puts non jazzers off? Just have a jam night, invite all, but control the volume of amps and guitarists. That would give you the opportunity to get it off the ground and give you the time to get it established as a good jam with a great atmosphere. Then you could slowly steer it towards jazz, if that's what you really want.
Good luck with it but don't let them just give up, for the sake of true live music in one of it's most exciting forms!

PS Don't forget to add it to the Breakfast Room Jam and Gig guide
 
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Rock Lobster

Member
Messages
124
Taz,

Quite agree with your view on the importance of and excitement jam sessions create. Can I ask what you mean by the term "control amps" and why you wouldn't invite them at first, would this be all people playing through an amp and that amps would change the volume/dynamic of the night?

Sorry to appear thick, still learning.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
Hi Rock Lobster, sorry I didn't explain that very well. First of all, yes I would invite any musician, after all, the more the merrier!
What I meant by "control amps" is simply this, guitarists will come along and depending on their influences, may wish to turn up the volume to "11" (very loud for those who don't use Marshal cabs.)
Some of us still remember "The Great jam session at the Half Moon in Bishops Stortford." Several of our members, Semiquaver and BobyG, turned up expecting to play on equal terms with the "Rock God" guitarists and had the worst night of their lives, almost putting them off the sax forever!!! All the guitarists did was drown them out to the point where their ears nearly exploded!
You have to control the atmosphere and keep it fair for all, you may have rock gods, folk heroes or just a poet, reciting poetry to some chords played gently on a mandolin!
Sometimes if you advertise a jam as being acoustic, you still get the interest but the volume levels are better, especially for us wind instruments!
It's a very difficult thing to get a jam session off the ground in the first place and it's going to take a joint effort on the part of the host pub and the musicians.
 
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saxnik

Member
Messages
381
i guess maybe things have moved on to the point where if musicians aren't paid they dont play.
This is a central principle of the MU!!

I like jam sessions, don't get me wrong, but I try not to play without financial compensation, since I'm shooting myself in the foot if I do. If I go to my gig and the boss says "nice one Nick, but I'm not paying you" I'll be really put out, but if his next comment is "because you did the same thing last night for nothing" I don't really have a leg to stand on, do I?

If I go to a jam session and play two or three tunes then that's fine, since it's a bit like a showcase taster session. Any more than that and I might as well be doing a gig, since I'll be 'entertaining' people for a long period of time and getting very little in return. If someone wanted to book me for wedding, festival, whatever, they can see what I do within those couple of tunes, and don't need a whole evening to make up their minds. Rather, they'll think I'm willing to play for peanuts every night.

Trouble is, for everyone to only play two or three numbers, you need a lot of musicians to make up a jam night, which is even more difficult if you're trying to keep the standard high!
Advertising and broadening the reach would seem to be the key then.

Good luck with finding a new outlet...

Nick
 
Messages
509
Hello Taz
sorry it has taken me so long to reply i have been playing all week so this is the first chance i have had.
i think the answer to why it didn't work is probably all of the reasons you mentioned plus the feeling in "my neck of the woods" that jamming is either a dozen guitarists doing battle for an hour without ever playing a recognizable tune, or a bunch of old dusty cobweb covered jazzers playing to old cobweb covered punters who can barely lift a pint.
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
Re Jams, I've only had bad experience with them, I can't follow the chord changes or get many notes that sound on tune & therefore I end up shrinking away wondering why I ever too up the sax.
I'd love to be able to Jam but this happens everytime.... How can I change this???? Any ideas!

Cheere & Ciao
Jimu
 
Messages
509
Hi Nick like you i play to earn a crust,but i feel that jam sessions are more of an opportunity to try different things than you would if you were being paid, also i have always found them invaluable for networking (finding out about possible venues etc) i have made a lot of friends at jam sessions,seen some incredible performances and also been offered work based on my performance.
 
Messages
509
Hi Jimu.

i can only say that the jams that i have been a part of have been either built around a house band with players stepping up to "do a turn" or groups or soloists getting up to do a spot.
i would probably go for the a more informal jam session where i could do a solo spot or perhaps get together with another musician or two before hand and practice a couple of numbers before the event
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Had to wait until the correct moment for this but if you like Jam Sessions, join the Woman's Institute.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
In answer to Jimu,
What zootsaxenberger says is right. Find a session with a house band and record the numbers. Then you can play along with them at home, you'll soon know what is going on.
Next Jam, you'll be on the ball.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
Re Jams, I've only had bad experience with them, I can't follow the chord changes or get many notes that sound on tune & therefore I end up shrinking away wondering why I ever too up the sax.
I'd love to be able to Jam but this happens everytime.... How can I change this???? Any ideas!

Cheere & Ciao
Jimu
Hi Jimu

I know exactly where your coming from,I've been to lots of jam sessions and they have been really good, a guy called Eddie organises a small band ie himself on tenor a pianist a drummer a base guitar and rythm guitar who I think get a small fee and maybe free drinks(whatever),and he invites a lot of his friends to come along for a jam.There are always a good number of players turn up,maybe 2extra piano 2drummers 2base 2rythm gtr 7or8 various saxophonists 2 or 3 singers and they all get up and join in as and when they feel like and it all goes off very well and never becomes a free for all and may I say these guys are IMHO brilliant I personally have never dared to get up and play Ive never even dared to take my sax along yet because I know I''m not in the same league as these guys but I do know that if I did I'm sure they would give me all the help they could.But like I've already said I know I'm no where near there standard yet and my dream of playing with them must wait.I don't even recognise a lot of what they play but I know they are all Jazz Standards.These guys just turn up for the joy of playing and there are no ego's on display at all and sometimes the feeling is amazing.
 
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Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
These guys just turn up for the joy of playing and there are no ego's on display at all and sometimes the feeling is amazing.

John, that's exactly what it's all about. No disrespect to those who earn their bread by playing, but it's THESE guy's who keep music alive and VERY VERY special. IMHO.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
That's the trouble with my lot, absolutely brilliant musicians, but they want more & more cash. So the gigs are drying up!!!!
 
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saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Hi Nick like you i play to earn a crust,but i feel that jam sessions are more of an opportunity to try different things than you would if you were being paid, also i have always found them invaluable for networking (finding out about possible venues etc) i have made a lot of friends at jam sessions,seen some incredible performances and also been offered work based on my performance.
Invaluable for networking - depends where you are, and who's there! Like I said, I quite like going down if there are lots of like-minded players there, and I'll play two or three numbers, but I don't appreciate it if I end up playing all night cos there's no-one there.
In this scenario I'm effectively doing a gig for free and there's no chance of picking up regular work really...

Do any jam sessions like this happen north of the M40?!

As for Jimu's problem, the other thing to do with a jam session is call a tune you know well, and make the other guys keep up with you! If you're completely comfortable with a standard like Summertime or Watermelon Man, ask to play that (check you've told them the right key to play in!). The rhythm section will know the tune, or have access to a Real Book with the chords in, and you're on your way.

If you need help learning standards, then Maiden Voyage (Jamey Aebersold vol 24) is your first port of call, both the tunes I mentioned are in there..

Nick
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
With the Spanish bands I play with, what a luxury being told which number, and which key, would be. The luxury is having a volume controll on the strap to turn down, so that I can stick one finger in my ear to sort it out.
I think that you will understand that my vocabulario espanol is very basic, but not knowing, realy keeps me "on the ball".
Viva la jam session!

John.
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
Hi Jimu.

i would probably go for the a more informal jam session where i could do a solo spot or perhaps get together with another musician or two before hand and practice a couple of numbers before the event
Yup that seems like an easy way into it....as turning up blind trying to jam along, for me is humiliating, unless you know the tunes really well and have brilliant ears.....so what your saying is proper preparation beforehand is the key and it's not really an impromptu jam but one that will give confidence to grow from and therefore enjoy it!

Ta for all the advice!

So next time a Jam comes my way I'll try this approach!
:welldone:mrcool
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
Had to wait until the correct moment for this but if you like Jam Sessions, join the Woman's Institute.
I'm quite partial to Jam and scones, the Womens Instutites in this part of the world have brilliant afternoon teas, tho Jam and Sax playing in close proximity is a sticky business!
:mrcool
 
Messages
509
I'm quite partial to Jam and scones, the Womens Instutites in this part of the world have brilliant afternoon teas, tho Jam and Sax playing in close proximity is a sticky business!
:mrcool
Sadly i was thrown out of the W.I.for having a ladder in my tights, i have no idea how it got there, i usually keep it in the garden shed.
 

Larn

Member
Messages
67
We have a twice montly blues/jazz jam here which also becomes an open mic night, I've been along a few times now and it gets better each time. I still don't know most of the tunes but as advised in another thread I just listen to the rhythm and go for it in the right key sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't but the experience and playing with others is invaluable and has inproved my playing and confidence no end. So if you can bite the bullet and join in yes you'll probably shake like mad until the first notes come out I definately did but you will be encourged and applauded and it's great the feeling that gives.

Mark.
 
Saxholder Pro
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