December 16, 2018 jam

This week we begin a new cycle of featured tunes for our six meetings through March 3, 2019. I've selected tunes from two themes: Miles Davis tunes and Coltrane "ballads." The Miles tunes will be the "easy" tunes of each week, if you can call them that. They're songs that many jazz players learn relatively early in their studies because they're pretty basic in harmonic terms. More challenging are the Coltrane "ballads." These are very pretty, more harmonically complex standards that Trane recorded on various albums OTHER THAN his famous Ballads record of 1963. In addition to being very pretty, they're also very fun to play. Check out our schedule page on the website for the full list of featured tunes through March 3.

For the December 16 jam, we'll do "Four" from Miles's Workin' album and "Imagination." The house band will be composed of the very capable Paul Dietrich (tpt), Paul Muench (pno), John Schaffer (bs), and Rodrigo Villanueva (dr). We'll see you at North Street Cabaret on the 16th.

December 2, 2018 jam

I'm sorry for the delay in posting our new schedule. We have the house bands lined up, but I have yet to determine featured tunes. So for the jam this coming Sunday, we will not have featured tunes. Just come on down ready to play tunes of your choice. The house band will be Ken Hoffman (ts), Doug White (pno), and John Lombardo (dr). The bass chair is currently empty. I'll post Sunday's bass player and featured tunes through March 3 later this week.

See you at North Street Cabaret on Sunday.

No jam on November 18, 2018

There will be no jam this coming Sunday, November 18. We'll return at our regularly scheduled time on December 2. I'll put up a new list of house bands and featured tunes soon. In the meantime, get out to enjoy the amazing music taking place all over town. This fall is shaping up to be a great season for jazz in Madison.

November 4, 2018 jam

Next jam is Sunday, November 4. The house band will be: Ken Hoffman (ts), Paul Muench (pno), Matt Rodgers (bs), and Rodrigo Villanueva (dr). Featured tunes are the bossa classic, "Wave," and Dizzy's "Blue 'n Boogie." Next week we'll post a list of featured tunes and house bands through early March.

See you next Sunday!

October 21, 2018 jam

On deck for the 10/21/18 MJJ are some great house band members: Paul Dietrich (tpt), Doug White (pno), John Schaffer (bs), and Matt Endres (bs). The featured tunes are a bossa and a blues (sort of). The bossa is "Journey to Recife" from Real Book I. It's a fun tune to play with a catchy melody but I'm having some trouble with the harmonies. It'll be interesting to consult the house band on some of the chords on this chart. The sort-of-blues is Horace Silver's "Sister Sadie" from Real Book III. We've featured this one before a year or two ago, but I figure no one will complain if it shows up in the lineup again.

See you in a couple of weeks!

October 7 jam!

After a brief website blackout, we're back! We'll return to the cozy confines of North Street Cabaret for our next session on October 7. The featured tunes are two bop classics. First up is Dizzy's "Groovin' High," a meat-and-potatoes bop number. "Blues for Alice" is the second tune. Composed by Charlie Parker, it's a twelve-bar blues in which the harmony moves from I7 to IV7 in ii-V's that descend whole steps, then from the IV7 to the final cadence in ii-V's that descend in half steps. If my harmonic analysis falls flat(!), see the chart in Real Book 1. "Groovin' High" also appears in RB1 and in an Aebersold volume of the same name. The house band will include some of our usual suspects: Paul Dietrich (tpt), Dave Stoler (pno), John Mesoloras (bs), and John Lombardo (dr).

As always, we look forward to seeing and hearing you at the jam. And when you take a break from practicing, maybe click on the Paypal button to your right to donate to our September fundraiser. Thanks!

September 16, 2018 jam

Hi all,

Please forgive me for not updating the website last week - stuff happens, as they say. And I'll keep this brief here.

We meet again on September 16 for what promises to be another great session. You can practice your rhythm changes playing on Dizzy's "Anthropology," work on bossas with "Corvocado," or call any other tunes you wish. You'll be backed ably by Paul Dietrich (tpt), Paul Muench (pno), Lucas Koehler (bs), and Matt Endres (dr).

Take note of all the great jazz taking place at North Street Cabaret in the coming months. Check their website, get on their mailing list, and/or follow them on Facebook. This fall is shaping up to be a great season of jazz at our home base.

See you next week!


September 2, 2018 jam

Our next jam takes place over Labor Day weekend; if I'd been thinking straight I would've had us playing "Work Song." Instead we continue with "Little Boat" and "Cheryl." "Little Boat" is a fun bossa with odd changes in which key centers move up a major third, then down a tritone, then up a major third, then down a tritone, etc. My theory is that a guitarist wrote this because the key centers move in a distinctive pattern when viewed on a guitar neck. The second tune is Charlie Parker's blues (named after a woman, according to our theme), "Cheryl." This a basic mid-tempo blues in C, but it has a devilishly tricky melody. You can find "Little Boat" in Real Book 1 and "Cheryl" in Real Book 3 and the Charlie Parker Omnibook, a wonderful collection of Bird's heads and solo transcriptions. We're privileged to have a house band composed of Ken Hoffman (ts), Johannes Wallmann (pno), Ben Ferris (bs), and Rodrigo Villanueva (dr) back us on these tunes and others of your choice! See you next weekend!



August 19 jam

Our next gathering will include featured tunes by two jazz giants. "Bessie's Blues" is a Coltrane number, a straightforward blues with a nifty melody. We'll also play "A Night in Tunisia," Dizzy's bop classic. This one mixes Latin and swing feels, gets us playing minor ii-V's, and requires you to remember a sixteen bar interlude in the head. These should be fun! Both tunes are in Real Book I. The house band will include Paul Dietrich (tpt), John Mesoloras (bs), and John Lombardo (dr). We look forward to seeing and hearing you at North Street Cabaret on 8/19!

August 5, 2018 Jam CHALLENGE

Last week I explained how we're going to start playing featured tunes that are rarely heard in the context of our jam. We duly played Coltrane's "Cousin Mary" and Paul Desmond's "Bossa Antigua" at the last jam, with more or less satisfactory results. So for the next jam on August 5, I'm challenging myself to kick things up a notch by picking one of the two featured tunes to memorize. My goal is to get on stage and actually listen to the other musicians while I play, rather than following the changes on my phone or chart. Doing so will allow me to pay attention to things other than the harmony, like being more attentive to the time feel and not being surprised when it's my turn to take a solo. That gives me two and a half weeks to memorize one tune. If you're like me and have trouble memorizing tunes, I invite you to join me and give it a shot. If we blow it, we can always ask the house band how they commit music to memory.

For the August 5 jam, then, the first candidate for memorization is "Joyce's Samba," a tune that I associate with Cannonball Adderly. In my experience the title is a misnomer because it's identified in Real Book Vol. 2 as a bossa, and Cannonball played it as such on a 1962 record called Cannonball's Bossa Nova. The harmony seems simple enough, and since we're doing it as our "easier" number of the week, I suggest we do it at the slower bossa tempo as well.

The second candidate you might attempt to memorize is Dizzy Gillespie's bop classic, "Woodyn' You." This one is the more difficult of the featured tunes in part because it's harmony consists of a lot of minor ii-V's (min7b5 - dom7#9). Here you're in Locrian mode and altered scale territory, a region unfamiliar to the likes of me. And this tune is more difficult because it's usually done at a brisk clip.

So we can look forward to the following for the August 5 jam:

  • we'll stretch out our hands, ears, and minds with a couple of rarely played tunes;
  • we'll get a chance to work on minor ii-V7's;
  • and we'll get some practice memorizing a song.

We have 19 days before the next jam. If I notice some growth in any of the three areas above over that time, I'll be satisfied. I invite you to take up the challenge to memorize one of these tunes.

The house band will be a virtuosic quartet made up of: Ken Hoffman (ts), Dave Stoler (pno), Ben Ferris (bs), and Keith Lienert (dr).

Let's get cracking with the memorizing. See you on August 5!