Here’s some insight into how we plan the Madison Jazz Jam. We try to book house bands out for “semesters” of several months: 1) to make sure that our jammers are supported, and 2): to accommodate the schedules of our house bands, many of whom have very busy playing schedules. Having done that, we move on to select featured tunes for each session.
If you’ve been to the jam before, you’ll know that we suggest one “easy” and one “intermediate” tune for jammers to work on prior to each session. They can then play those songs with the house band and other jammers and receive feedback on their playing. In an effort to expose jammers to new material and to keep things fresh, I pick tunes by devising three categories for each semester and selecting featured tunes from them. For the next “semester” (March 18 through July 1), our categories are rhythm changes tunes, tunes by Cole Porter (plus other standards with Porteresque character), and songs titled after places. Given those themes, the featured tunes for Sunday, March 18 are Monk’s “Rhythm-a-Ning” and “Hackensack.” The former is a rhythm changes number and the latter is named after a place in New Jersey – see the categories? (N.B. Personally, I think of “Hackensack” as a rhythm changes number with a melody akin to that of “Well, You Needn’t.” And I think of “Well, You Needn’t” as a kind of deconstructed rhythm changes tune anyway. But that’s just me.)
Let me know if you’d like to suggest a theme for the jam. As a matter of fact, I chose the Porter tunes at the behest of John Wanner, the editor of our newsletter. Thanks, John!
The first house band to accompany us on our journey to Hackensack and beyond is the able combo of Paul Dietrich (tpt), Dave Stoler (pno) (I once heard Dave quote Monk’s “Stuffy Turkey” in a solo, so I expect him to feel right at home with this week’s featured tunes), Lucas Koehler (bs), and Matt Endres (dr).
We look forward to seeing and hearing you at the Rigby on the 18th. As always, if you know anyone interested in playing or hearing jazz, send them our way!