Madison Jazz Jam sessions are held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month at Cafe Coda, 1224 Williamson St., Madison. The first Saturday is a workshop and jam. It starts with a band demo-presentation and then invitation for jammers to join in.  The 3rd Saturday is more of a traditional jam with a sign up sheet. The house band will play a couple of tunes and then an emcee welcomes musicians to have their turn on stage. All sessions are from 1:00pm to 4:00PM.  The jam is free. Because we are a non-profit, we pass a hat for donations to pay for our expenses to produce the jam.

Who is the jam for?

  • Instrumentalists and Vocalists: Jazz improvisers of all ages and talents are welcome at Madison Jazz Jam. We are a community gathering, and we want to hear from you!
  • Audience: Jazz appreciators who want to hear good music.

How do you know what to play?

Musicians sign up at the jam and indicate what songs they wish to play with the band. Blues in any key is a welcome place to begin or typical jazz standards from the Real Books. At times we may not be able to accommodate all who wish to play a particular song, so it is a good idea to prepare one or two alternate tunes.

Do minors need adult accompaniment?


Tips for vocalists:

Try to know which key you would like to sing in. Because instrumentalists commonly play jazz standards in one or two particular keys, and because vocalists may feel most comfortable singing in keys that the house band may consider “nonstandard,” it will be helpful if you can let the band know your preferred key so they can adjust to best support you. If you plan to sing a song with a written arrangement, try to bring 3 copies of your sheet music so our house bands can familiarize themselves with it. But If you don’t have sheet music, don’t worry – our bands can play anything!

Note these tips for vocalists from Dave Cooper, Director of Jazz Studies at UW-Platteville:

In my experience with singers, the toughest thing to work out is starting and ending the tune.  Sometimes that’s built in to the tune and other times you need to make some decisions.  Start by listening to versions of the tune you like and figuring out what they are doing for intros and outros.  That way, before the tune begins you can say something like, “Let’s play the first 4 measures three times as an intro and repeat the last eight bars twice and ritard into the last chord for an ending.”

If you want to improvise or scat, that’s also something you might want to say.  “I am going to sing the melody then scat two choruses before horn solos.  After the last soloist, I’ll sing the melody out”.