Friday, November 16, 2012

Live Jams

When Your Jam Really

Comes Alive

     I realised recently that I've mentioned 'live jams' a lot lately, both in my blog and to people in conversation, and in both cases I recalled afterwords that some people might not know exactly what live jams are. You might know what a jam is, or a jam session, in the realm of music. Simply, it is an informal get-together where musicians play (usually improvised jazz).
     Jam sessions are what I do most of the time. In fact, I like to do them often, and I usually like to play in minor blues keys. Every time I'm playing in these jam sessions, I'm always trying to play new riffs and licks, and change my styling slightly, as these sessions are usually good places to learn. I jam sometimes just with one other saxophonist, or sometimes I jam with a whole bunch of musicians. The other day I had a drummer, two other saxophonists, a bassist, and myself all collaborating in an informal session. Generally the rule is, or so I say, that you can do just about anything in a jam session if it's only you and a drummer (which I say to people besides drummers, obviously). By this I mean that, as a saxophonist, I can play in any key, in any mode, and as crazy as I want, because there isn't anyone else to intonate with or to play to, other than the rhythm laid out by the drummer.
I'm sorry, I had to...
     Jam sessions are good places to learn, as I said, but more simply, they're loads of fun. If you're really feeling the music, you might find yourself doing some wild lines. For these reasons and more, I'm sure, I really enjoy holding jam sessions as often as I do. On the other hand though, I do them so often that I find I may not have a knowledge of many other pre-established songs (for covers), or opportunity for composition of my own. Therefore, when I'm faced with a potential gig, be it paid or not, I find it easiest to say that I'll perform a live jam, which generally is pretty exciting, as there aren't a terrible many who still do this (most common are blues guitarists and other blues artists).
     Now for the meaning of it all: a live jam is a jam session done- wait for it... ...! Yes, a live jam is a rather informal improvisation group that plays for an audience. It may sound pretty unorganized, but trust me- the musicians know what they're doing. Even if they make a comparatively big 'mistake', nobody in the audience would even know, and if they did, any jazz musician would call such a 'mistake' part of their line. I've done this sort of thing, formally and not, dozens of time. In many ways, it's more fun than a normal jam session, because- after all -music is meant to be shared.
     So do be on the look out for live jams, either at festivals or on the internet: they're a lot of fun to watch as well as participate in, and if you ever have the opportunity to participate in one, take it! Live jams will make you a much better musician.

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