Our favorite musical art form, jazz, has a great history of jam sessions. Traditionally, the language of jazz has been developed and passed down through generations of musicians aurally. Jam sessions provide a chance for musicians of all ability levels to learn – musically, personally, and professionally.
Recently Nashville has lost many of the regular learning opportunities provided by jam sessions. Despite having a large pool of fantastic jazz musicians, there are currently no regular jam sessions for them to listen, play, and network together. In a city where the majority of professional musicians have their hands involved with dozens of recording and touring projects ranging the entire musical gamete, how can we ensure that the Nashville jazz scene receives the local and national attention that it deserves? Where can students of one of Nashville’s many university music departments go to cut their teeth on a bandstand?
I would like to reintroduce you to two new regularly occurring jazz jam sessions in the heart of Nashville. Beginning Wednesday February 10th, Edgehill Studios Café will be hosting a monthly jazz jam session, and on Sunday March 21st the Nashville Jazz Workshop will begin hosting a separate monthly jazz jam session. A bit of information about each of the jam session’s goals:
The Edgehill Studios Café Jazz Jam Session, from 7 – 9:30, is designed for professionals and semi-professionals who need an outlet to play and try new tunes. Musicians are both encouraged and expected to bring original music, arrangements, and transcriptions to try with the host band. Just be sure to bring charts for each band member: tenor sax (or alto sax or flute), keys, bass, and drums. Also make sure to put your name down on the sign-up sheet so that the band knows to call you up. Again, the emphasis here will be on original music, arrangements, and underutilized jazz standards.
The Nashville Jazz Workshop Jazz Jam Session will take place from 4 – 6 on Sunday afternoons, and participation is designed for musicians of all ability levels. Each month the Workshop will have a featured guest at the jazz jam session. I’ll provide you with more details about this jam as the date approaches, but for now the focus of the workshop jazz jam will be to learn about playing, listening critically, and the process of jam sessions altogether.
There is one key rule for the Nashville Jazz Jam Sessions – “If you don’t KNOW the tune, don’t PLAY the tune.” People participating are highly discouraged from using Real Books or other charts for standards they play with the host quartet (charts will be allowed for original tunes and arrangements). Requesting to play a tune that usually swings in a “samba-fusion-country groove” is not considered an original arrangement. All tunes chosen by participants must be learned by heart. Please don’t be put off by this rule, it’s for the good of YOU the musician, as well as the host band and the listeners.
So, for those of you ever wondering any of the following…
– How will I ever get a band together to rehearse this new song of mine?
– When am I going to get a chance to try this Clifford Jordan tune?
– Where can I play a rhythm changes without first hearing Jamey Aebersold’s voice?
– Can I hold my own with professional players?
– How does a jazz jam session work?
– How can I invest in the success of jazz and in particular, new music in Nashville?
…Come out and attend one of Nashville’s regular jazz jam sessions!