Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

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    Default Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Every once in a while I drop into the local Jazz Jam. Young guys fast tempos - it's all good. This week someone called "Yes and No" - Sure I know that tune but then as I'm up there - trying to remember the first chord of the bridge and NOTHING. So I\ fumble through the bridge but then as the trumpet player takes a solo it comes back but TOO late. As I head back to my seat it dawns on me that I haven't really looked at that tune since a College Jazz Combo in 1989. Yikes!

    So many tunes. I will work on something for a couple weeks then move to something else only to realize previous tune is already hazy. Aside from playing the heads a running changes to every tune I know daily. How do the piano and bass players play these Jam Session without even a Real book for reference. This is truly my greatest weakness - remembering tunes.

    Tenor - '61 Mark VI w/Tenny Slant Tone Edge 8
    Alto - '66 Mark VI/Meyer 6/Caravan
    Soprano - '93 Yani S-900 w/Tenney Tone Edge 7

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Had the same experience just last night. My wife and I went out with some friends to a jazz/blues jam session at a local restaurant. I brought my tenor, and when I got up there, a flugelhorn player called Girl from Ipanema. I've played this many times, but years ago, and even then it took me a while to internalize all the syncopation. The brass guy was obviously boned up on it, so I let him play the melody. When my solo came, I just relied on my ear, made sure to keep the rhythm correct, and carefully brushed against the melody now and then. The audience was fine with it. I think what happened to you is that you overthought the problem and temporarily lost confidence in you innate musicianship. Perhaps one drink before you got up there might have prevented the balk.

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    The problem with the girl with emphysema is the bridge, which goes to a key that's not immediately apparent.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member buddy lee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Quote Originally Posted by A Greene View Post
    Every once in a while I drop into the local Jazz Jam. Young guys fast tempos - it's all good. This week someone called "Yes and No" - Sure I know that tune but then as I'm up there - trying to remember the first chord of the bridge and NOTHING. So I\ fumble through the bridge but then as the trumpet player takes a solo it comes back but TOO late. As I head back to my seat it dawns on me that I haven't really looked at that tune since a College Jazz Combo in 1989. Yikes!

    So many tunes. I will work on something for a couple weeks then move to something else only to realize previous tune is already hazy. Aside from playing the heads a running changes to every tune I know daily. How do the piano and bass players play these Jam Session without even a Real book for reference. This is truly my greatest weakness - remembering tunes.
    Who calls Wayne Shorter tunes at jams? Stuff is way out there. I'd have been super lost too, but then again, my ear is garbage.
    "Can't never could."

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Dave Pollack's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Quote Originally Posted by buddy lee View Post
    Who calls Wayne Shorter tunes at jams? Stuff is way out there. I'd have been super lost too, but then again, my ear is garbage.
    For real? Maybe some stuff, but Yes or No is a pretty common tune, especially at a jam session. Maybe it depends on location? I'm thinking of where I am (NYC/Philly).

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Quote Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
    The problem with the girl with emphysema is the bridge, which goes to a key that's not immediately apparent.
    Doesn't matter if you're relying completely on your ear. I modulated without even being aware of it.

    Love the title variation!

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    The piano, guitar & bass players screw up just as much as the horns depending on the tunes. Many of them know or hear the changes but can't play the heads. If you don't know the tune, sit out & have a drink. Nothing to be ashamed of. The biggest problem with Yes or No is not knowing the A sections are 14 bars and can be confusing if it's your first time playing the tune. The changes are not hard to hear.
    Some jam sessions can be defined by the attitude of the players. Some come loaded for bear and call the hardest tunes they know, and some come to get a chance to play some music without the heavy competitive bs & egotism. Find a session suitable to your needs and let the good times roll. The sessions I played in Newark bars were friendly and relaxed and enjoyable. Even when Kenny Garrett drops in and you are reminded to practice more.
    The last ones I played were poorly run by jerks who would take the house band off the stand and leave everybody playing with people of such diverse abilities that it was hard to find a tune everybody knew. This seems to be the way sessions are run nowadays (not all) and you have to decide whether it's worth putting up with their crap.
    George

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    All the jazz chest beating and attitude is one reason why when I want to jam I usually get the bass and go to a bluegrass jam.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Dave Pollack's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Quote Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
    All the jazz chest beating and attitude is one reason why when I want to jam I usually get the bass and go to a bluegrass jam.
    That is definitely a downside to A LOT of sessions, but keep searching! There are a lot of good ones out there, too.

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Quote Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
    All the jazz chest beating and attitude is one reason why when I want to jam I usually get the bass and go to a bluegrass jam.
    The one I was at the other night was very friendly and welcoming, turf, although granted, there were no intermediate players there. I think when the skill level gets to a certain point, it scares off anyone that's not sure he/she can hold their own, and maybe that gets interpreted as 'attitude.' That said, I've of course experienced the sessions that are obviously musical pissing contests. They're not much fun, win or lose.

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    I am not afraid of my ability to keep up. And I can generally hold my own socially; but the general vibe at jazz sessions just feels more negative to me.

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    Default Re: Jam Session Blues - Keeping Tunes Fresh

    Quote Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
    I am not afraid of my ability to keep up. And I can generally hold my own socially; but the general vibe at jazz sessions just feels more negative to me.
    Sorry turf, didn't mean to imply otherwise. I was commenting generally.

    There does seem to be an element of elitism among at least the jazz players that attend jam sessions. But that regard comes from the other direction also. Tell an R&R band that you often play jazz jams, and they often look at you like you're an exotic species. Someone should do a sociology paper on the intricacies of contemporary musician hierarchies.

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