I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Good people, good food, good music. Hey, that sounds like the jam we had yesterday!
Our next jam is Dec 15th and Tony Barber will be back as our saxophonist/educator. He’ll be joined by Johannes Wallmann on piano, Brad Townsend on bass, and Keith Lienert on drums. That’s about as good as it gets!
Tony selected ”Body and Soul” as the tune-of-the-week. Ballads aren’t called much at jams and may be partly why the art of ballad playing is often neglected. This session will be an opportunity to develop ballad playing skills. Learning to uniquely interpret the melody is one of these skills so it wouldn’t surprise me if Tony divides the melody among the soloists. That means it will pay to really learn the melody and variations.
You can find a “Body and Soul” playalong and chord sheet here. That site also has a good sampling of artists putting their spin on this classic. Listen closely to as many as you can.
I didn’t see that coming. We often shrug off competition from Packer games but I didn’t expect a record turnout. The room was packed for almost the entire jam and we set a record with 25 jammers! We had groups of students from West HS, Sun Prairie HS, Middleton HS, UW, a home schooled student, and lots of non-students.
The only glitch was the PA system did not work. It was hard to hear Dan and the band’s comments, and made it difficult for the vocalists and flute player. Sorry about that. Hopefully it will be fixed for next time.
Our next session is Dec 1st and trumpeter Dave Cooper is our educator. He will be joined by the Rand Moore trio: Rand – drums, Paul Muench - keys, and John Schaffer – bass. The tune-of-the-week is Sandu.
Sandu is a blues in Eb written by trumpeter Clifford Brown. We played Sandu last year and you can find Dan’s notes here. On this site you will find chord lead sheets, a play-along, and videos.
If you haven’t started learning tunes directly from recordings Sandu is a good tune to start with. Software like Transcribe! lets you slow it down in the faster spots and makes learning a tune off a recording much easier. Listen closely to the original version by Clifford Brown. You will hear inflections, accents, etc., and remember the tune much longer. If you have the time pick out a few licks you like and practice working them into your solos.
After a jam like that I sometimes feel bad for Mary. I come home all pumped up and she has to endure my endless jabbering. I guess it’s my way of reliving the fun. If you weren’t there here are a few highlights:
- For most of the jam the room was full. Better yet, there were many new young faces in the audience. Among the newcomers were 2 UW students (including a French horn!), a U of Minn student, 4 West HS students, a student from Edgewood HS, and a sixth grader from Mount Horeb. While most of the high schoolers were there just to scope it out, Marie from West HS played on quite a few tunes. After watching her have a good time the rest promised to bring their instruments next time.
- Duane and Margie from Black River Falls made the trip again. They always sound great and their positive energy lights up the room. Vocals are a nice change of pace; vocalists you are welcome to join us!
- Others from out-of-town were drummer Devin from Chicago and guitarist Piers from England. In the past we’ve had jammers from New York, New Orleans, San Antonio and other places around the country. No matter where you’re from we aim to make the jam feel like home!
- The house band sounded great as always. Highlights for me were Paul’s solo on “Blame it on my Youth,” and Joey’s accompaniment on “Red Clay.” John sounded especially melodic on his bass solos all night, and Eric was flawless as usual. He can take any tune and sound like he’s been playing it his entire life.
- It’s hard to mention ”Red Clay” without also mentioning Lucus’ new electric bass and hand slapping skills on that same tune – jammer highlight of the night for me.
I could keep going but that’s enough for now. Time to start thinking about the next jam. In 2 weeks Dan will be back as our educator/saxophonist and joined by Dave Stoler, Nick Moran, and Michael Brenneis. Another all-star lineup.
The tune-of-the-week is “Night and Day,” possibly Cole Porter’s most popular song. Rather than a 32 bar AABA form it is a 48 bar AAB form (some argue for ABABCB). We’ll do the version found in Real Book 1 – it’s in C major. A playalong, chord sheet, and youtube videos can be found on this site.
The descending chromatic chord and melody sequence is the most distinctive part of this song. Playing ideas that descend chromatically come naturally here. If you’re not sure what to play listen to videos or recordings and transcribe what sounds good to you.
With midterms, a late Packers game, and a jazz benefit at the Brink Lounge it isn’t surprising the turnout today was lighter than usual. That didn’t stop us from having a good time and making some beautiful music!
On November 3rd Eric Koppa is back again as our educator/saxophonist. He’ll be joined by Paul Hastil - keys, John Mesoloras – bass, and Joey Banks on drums.
The tune-of-the-week is “Star Eyes.” This site has a discussion and analysis. A play along, chord sheet, and videos are handy on this site.
According to the last site the tune is most commonly played at jams in Eb. We’ll take their word for it; I’ve never played it and I’m not sure Eric has lots of experience with it either. Real Book 2 has it in F and Real Book 3 in Eb. Ideally, it’s best to learn it in both keys but unless I hear from Eric let’s plan on Eb.
Addendum: Reliable sources (John Mesoloras, and Matt Olson) confirmed Eb as the correct key.
The tune-of-the-week for this Sunday’s jam is Black Orpheus. This is a commonly called tune and not that difficult. It isn’t that fast, the harmony is mostly 2-5-1 progressions in the relative major and minor, and the A and B sections are very similar (less to remember). Since the A and B sections are similar you’ll want to emphasize the areas where they are different. One of those is in the 5th through 8th measures of the B section when the tune momentarily changes key.
This site has a playalong and a chord sheet: http://www.learnjazzstandards.com/jazz-standards/black-orpheus-a-day-in-the-life-of-a-fool/.
The educator this week is Eric Koppa and the rest of the band is Michael BB – piano, Brad Townsend – bass, and Rodrigo Villanueva – drums.
See you Sunday.
New faces at the jam keep it fresh and this last jam there were many new jammers and audience members. Duane and Margie Fait came all the way from Black River Falls! The audience loved them, they loved the jam, and I expect we’ll be seeing them again before the snow falls.
The next jam is October 6th and the tune-of-the-week is Caravan. We did this tune a while back. Once again, a helpful resource is this webpage: http://www.jazclass.aust.com/articles/carav.htm. There is a discussion of diminished chords and in particular how to think of the diminished chord in the A section of Caravan.
Our educator on October 6th is trumpeter David Cooper. The rest of the band is Nick Moran – bass, Johannes Wallmann – piano, and Todd Hammes on drums. I mistakenly listed these guys as playing for last Sunday, but they are playing on October 6th. Really!
See you there!
Another fun jam, lots of young players and everyone having a good time playing jazz and hanging out with family and friends. Well worth the traffic and parking headaches (anyone who went downtown this weekend knows what I mean).
Our next jam is September 15th with Dan Wallach, Paul Hastil, Nick Moran, and Todd Hammes. The tune-of-the-week is “In a Mellowtone.” In order to get prep material online earlier we will be putting up links to online resources rather than articles from our educators.
Yes, the jam is happening this Sunday, September 1st. The tune for this week is On Green Dolphin Street. It is important to note we are playing it in Eb. To help with your preparation here are a few links and a video of a famous version by Miles Davis.
Chord charts and free play along: http://www.learnjazzstandards.com/jazz-standards/on-green-dolphin-street-in-eb/
Background info and analysis: http://www.jazzstandards.com/compositions-0/ongreendolphinstreet.htm
The jam returns this Sunday, August 18th and as always we have a strong line-up: David Cooper – trumpet/educator, Paul Hastil - keys, Todd Hammes – drums, and joining us from UW-Whitewater is Brad Townsend on bass.
The tune-of-the-week is Beautiful Love. Beautiful Love gives you a chance to work on both minor and major 2-5-1 progressions. For a long time I found minor 2-5-1 progressions confusing, partly because there seem to be various ways to think about them. It will be educational to hear Dave’s approach.
Here is a link to a well-done playalong with a written out sample solo using a guidetone approach. In the video below you can hear sequences, approach notes, and lots of other devices. A tune like this is ripe for many different approaches.
See you Sunday!
Like I said in the last newsletter, every jam is unique. I had no idea we were going to be in the front bar last Sunday until I walked into the Fountain a bit before four.
Thank you everyone for making do with a bad situation. After all the questions and confusion people settled in and made the best of it. Somehow despite the tiny space and dangerously loud acoustics the jam went well. We had a large turnout of young jammers and lots of terrific music.
The good news is we shouldn’t have to deal with this again. I talked with Harold, the owner, and he said if they are short-staffed in the future they will close the front bar instead. Thank you, Harold.