Eddie Gomez joins Rodrigo Villanueva, April 5th at the Brink

Eddie Gomez posterWe have amazing musicians in our house band pool. Rodrigo Villanueva, one of our drummers,  is currently on tour with multi-Grammy winner and jazz legend Eddie Gomez.  Best known for his 11 years with the legendary Bill Evans Trio, Eddie Gomez has also performed with jazz giants Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Benny Goodman, and Miles Davis.
Eddie and his pianist Stefan Karlsson have worked together for over 20 years and Rodrigo is joining them for their Midwest tour. They'll be at the Brink Lounge on April 5th. The show starts 8 pm. Advance tickets are available via the Brink Lounge website.


Jammin in the Fountain's front bar

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.


Improv fun

We had another terrific jam yesterday with students and others from all over Madison sitting in. Videotape from yesterday isn't ready yet, but in the meantime here is a special moment from a few weeks ago: Middleton HS student Eli Bucheit mixes it up with Dave Cooper and the pro's. Check out the grin on Dave's face near the end of Eli's solo (around 3:40) and during the trading that follows.


Tune for next time will be up soon

It was good to see all the new faces at today's jam. In addition to some of Dan's students we haven't seen in a while, we had a group of 4 students from one of Johannes' classes. In one of his "Intro to Jazz" type courses it is a requirement for his students to attend and play at a jazz jam. This was the 1st time any of these young people had performed at a jazz jam. They did great! We may have another group join us at our next jam in 2 weeks.

Speaking of next time, we finally completed the schedule of educators and house band performers for the next 8 sessions. It is up on the schedule page. Tunes aren't listed yet but we'll have the tune for next time posted within  2 days. Sorry for the delay.

New Videos

Sunday's jam was a good one as usual: good music, good energy, and a good time. We had at least 60 people including many new faces. We managed to fit in 21 jammers, 10 of them from high schools or colleges.

We have some video if you want to see what it was like. Mark Ramirez recorded the first three songs and they're up on our media page and our YouTube channel (thanks, Mark!). We plan to record periodically and we'll let you know when something new is posted. If you are in a video and want it removed just let us know.

Our next session on March 3rd promises to be extra special. We'll say more about that soon. We just wanted to get the video out tonight.

With so many jammers it's best to arrive early

by Madison Jazz Jam President Bob Kerwin

I wish I could've been there yesterday, only the 2nd jam I've missed. Thank you Dave, the house band, Mike for filling in for me, and all 23 jammers that came and performed. By all reports it was another great jam with many new faces. We had 6 musicians from West HS  (thanks, Jamie, for spreading the word), welcomed 4 new musicians from Waunakee HS, and heard pros like Ray Rideout and Darren Sterud, too.

The jam is becoming so popular we'll soon have the good problem of finding time to fit everyone in. If you are a newer improvisor please come for the 1st set; it is reserved for you.  Arriving early is best for everyone. We want everyone to have a chance to play but if a bunch of jammers show up in the last hour it is hard. In the future the jam may last until 7:30 (hopefully the new year), until then we suggest showing up before 6 if you want to play, and for the 1st set if you are a newer improvisor.

Our next jam is November 4th and we'll focus on "There Will Never Be Another You." We should have some helpful notes up soon.

The jam hits another high point

Wow, the jam is really gaining momentum now. Twenty-three jammers! More than 60 people overall, so many the staff had to keep bringing in extra chairs. Some of the best players in the city, not just in the house band but in the jammers showing up for the second set. It was happening!

For me, the highlight was Dave Cooper's trumpet, just beautiful. I love listening to him. And the good thing is in 2 weeks Dave and another terrific band will be back. The tune for next time is "Night in Tunisia." We'll have more helpful info on the tune on the site soon.

One more thing: if you lost a bracelet at the jam the Fountain is holding it. Just call them and describe it accurately to get it back.

Off to a flying start!

Today was a terrific start to what we expect will be a long association with The Fountain. Everything about the jam was so good I had a hard time controlling the urge to go nuts with exclamation points. I've done my best; it's just that it was a great jam!

First of all, the house band was smoking! Anders on sax, Nick on bass, Michael on drums.... and then Johannes Wallman on piano. Are you kidding me? I hope Madison gets to hear a whole lot more of Johannes because he is the real deal. A national caliber player now living right here in our backyard.

And the big surprise was hearing Johannes on a real piano. Not only did the  Fountain invest in a Hammond B3 but a real (nicely tuned) upright piano, too. They are serious about becoming Madison's next great jazz club.

The room sound was also a surprise: lively while retaining warmth, just right for acoustic instruments. Several people, including members of the house band, told me how much they liked the room.

What else? Well, what about the food? I saw an awful lot of tasty looking meals being served up. I didn't ask anyone how their food was, but the chicken salad Mary ordered was huge and delicious.

I could go on and on: the nice turnout (around fifty altogether); two songs from surprise visitors Patrick Breiner and his trio, Sons of Daughters; seeing all the familiar faces and meeting new ones (including UW Professor of Music, Les Thimmig, and Cambridge High School Band and Jazz Band Director Nathan Gerlach) and..... well you get the picture, it was a great jam!

When's the next jam? That's easy, now it is always on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month so it's October 7th. Check the schedule page for more information. We'll post more information about upcoming tunes soon.

Big changes for the jam

The next jam is September 15th at our new home for all jams, The Fountain , 122 State St. The East Side Club and Liliana's have been great hosts but it has always been our goal to have one central location. One location means less thinking about where the jam is happening, and a central location is most accessible and fairest for all.

The Fountain is a family oriented restaurant and bar that opened last year and is now offering music, with an emphasis on jazz. Monday nights are Hammond Organ night (The Fountain owns their very own B3), Thursday nights Charlie Painter and friends entertain, and now the jam will be there twice a month on Sundays.

We'll be in the back room, easily accessible off Dayton or Carroll St. It has plenty of room for musicians and fans and seats 50 comfortably. On the menu is old-fashioned comfort food; tasty, plentiful, and economically priced. Parking is available on side streets and in the parking ramp across the street.

Our new schedule will be the first and third Sunday of every month. Previously, we tried to schedule around Packer games and other local jazz events, but now we are emphasizing consistency. We may take off for holidays (like Labor Day) but otherwise you can expect the jam every first and third Sunday. Dan will be the educator for most of the jams.

Our schedule page will continue to list house band members and the designated 1st set tune for that week. Every jam is an all-star lineup but we're planning an extra special band for September 15th, our first session at The Fountain. Stay tuned.

Our format will remain the same except for minor tweaking to  accommodate an expected larger number of jammers. With a large turnout you shouldn't expect to play on more than 2 or 3 tunes. While this is a change for our jam it is the standard at jazz jams everywhere. We will also try again to keep the number of soloists per song to a reasonable number (except for the tune-of-the-week and the last tune). This makes it easier to interpret the melody, stretch out a bit on your solo, and avoids tiring out the rhythm section.

Please help us make the jam successful in our new location. The opportunity to call The Fountain our home is the best thing that's happened to the jam yet. Let's make sure it succeeds. Bring your family or friends down to eat and hear you play. Share this article on Facebook. Spread the word!

Jammin' the next two Sundays

The next two weekends are our last jams of the summer and this Sunday is our last jam outside at the East Side Club. In case you missed it, here are some photos from our last ESC jam. You can't ask for a more beautiful, relaxing setting. [slideshow]

You may have noticed we don't have any jams listed after August. No, the jam is not going away. There will be some changes, however, and we don't have everything finalized yet. One change we are working hard to implement is a consistent schedule for the jam. The jam will be the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. Since the 1st Sunday in September is during Labor Day weekend we will skip it. The only jam in September will be September 16th. We'll have more information about the location soon.

Lastly, a word of caution about playing Blue Train. Do not use the Real Book version! It is wrong. Listen and learn the melody from the recording. Notice the solos are over  a major blues. The use of the dominant #9 during the melody gives it a  minor flavor, but it is not a minor blues.