Time after Time

I said this before and I'll say it again, it is gratifying to know so many people like and attend the jam. At our last jam we had a large audience turnout and a near record 22 jammers! This is amazing considering how busy everyone is in summer.

I've been pretty busy myself. Last week I had 3 gigs and attended a birthday party, house warming party, and Atwood Fest. That's more stuff than usual and it didn't leave time for writing until now.

So what's on tap for our next jam on August 2nd? For starters, saxophonist Ken Hoffmann joins us for the first time. Ken is a former Madisonian now living on Waukesha who came to the jam a while back and blew me away. I loved his playing and you will, too. The rest of the band is Paul Hastil - piano, Rob Lundberg - bass, and Devin Drobka - drums. It will be entertaining and educational as always!

The featured tune is "Time After Time." There are 2 songs by that name performed by jazz musicians - we are doing the 1947 song by Styne and Cahn made famous by Frank Sinatra, not the Cyndi Lauper song covered by Miles Davis and a few others. It is in Real Book vol 2, and chord changes are online at Ralph Pratt's Vanilla Book. It is often done as a ballad but we'll play it medium swing like Kenny Barron and Stan Getz did in the recording below.



Tenor Madness

We had an excellent jam today with good audience and jammer attendance and beautiful music from a wide range of ages and talents. With so many fun things competing for attention on a summer holiday weekend, it's nice to know our jazz jam can hold its own.

The next jam is July 19th and the band is Johannes Wallmann - piano, Eric Koppa - sax, Matt Rodgers - bass, and Keith Lienert - drums. Week to week we go from one excellent band to the next!

The featured tune is Sonny Rollin's, "Tenor Madness." This is one of those must know tunes that shows up frequently at jam sessions. The definitive version is on Rollin's album by the same name and is the only time Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane recorded together. It is a straight forward blues with an easy to remember riff melody. The line in measures 9 and 10 departs from the riff and forms an embellished series of descending half steps. This kind of melody construction often makes for a nice sounding line, a good thing to remember when improvising your own lines.

Of course, the solos are also packed with interesting lines to transcribe, assimilate, and integrate into your solos. Learning vocabulary in this way is a key method for developing as an improviser and should be a regular part of your practice routine. Here's Sonny and Trane.


Mack the Knife

Yes, our next jam is July 5th, the day after 4th of July. Will that affect the turnout? Maybe, maybe not. We've had large turnouts on other holiday weekends, during the Super Bowl, and high school graduation day. On the other hand it was a lighter turnout at our last jam on Father's Day. Either way is okay. A large audience is more fun to play for and a small group means more playing time per jammer.

One thing is predictable, our band will sound great! This week's super lineup includes Dave Cooper - trumpet, Doug Brown - guitar, John Christensen - bass, and Rodrigo Villanueva - drums.

The featured tune is, "Mack the Knife," AKA "Moritat." You'll want to learn this song as it continues to be popular and is commonly requested at gigs. To the best of my knowledge a fakebook version doesn't exist. A chord chart and backing tracks are available on Learn Jazz Standards, and the melody is easy enough to learn and memorize from recordings. We'll play it in Bb concert. Here's Frank Sinatra singing it. Notice how the intensity increases as it rises by a half step every verse? This is how it is often done but jazz musicians like Sonny Rollins, and Dexter Gordon also played it all in one key. In order to keep it simple we'll do it their way. So, when you're done listening to Frank listen to Sonny.