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The Gypsy Jazz Jam Guide

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  • Posts: 4,777
    The few jams I go to in Chicago are usually populated by people who know what's up, it's mostly the same people that come and it's fairly enjoyable.
    And even if someone steps out of conventional boundaries that can be fun too.
    If a person is listening.
    It's like, you can tell if a person is just having fun or maybe experimenting with something or overdoing everything and being a selfish douche.
    Jams are a good place to try out some of the ideas you've been practicing at home, especially when you know most of the people around you. It's a low pressure environment and a good stepping stone between practicing at home and playing a live gig.
    Even if you already have a band, jam session is a good situation to expose yourself to, right in the middle between a band practice and a live gig.

    You just have to be mindful of others, it's an ensemble so listen to others and play like it is.
    bopsterMitch
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • MandobartMandobart ✭✭ Mandolin, Octave Mandolin, Mandocello, Fiddles
    Posts: 100
    Most of Michel's points hold true for any kind of jam; bluegrass, blues. GJ, etc.
    Mitch
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    Brilliant article - though I agree with Stuart about point 6. I believe that transposition is an essential part of technique - not saying I can do it every time but it's something I try to do. "

    Mitch
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    hahahahahahaha Michel has a totally French way of writing, very direct and unforgiving!

    As far as transposition goes, I think for the repertoire that most people play in the style, the ability to transpose should not be too hard to acquire. If someone can't play Minor Swing in Dm , or Dark Eyes in Am (for instance) then that probably tells me that I won't have a very good time jamming with that person haha

    things that i have seen:

    -jam sessions where everyone pulls out their ipad (sometimes with the wrong chords), and everyone just does their own thing not listening to anything that's going on, therefore tempo fluctuates from person to person, and the more people there are, the more we hear the dreaded delay effect...

    -multi person jam , one time, where again no one is listening to eachother.. somehow, half of the group was on beat one, and the other half was on beat two... i seemed to be the ONLY person to have noticed it, and i told everyone to stop and restart hahaha that was at django in june.

    So the key thing is LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN, WATCH WATHC WATCH, and react accordingly!!
    Mitch
  • We are born with two ears and two eyes and they are close to the brain for a reason.
    Buco
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • MandobartMandobart ✭✭ Mandolin, Octave Mandolin, Mandocello, Fiddles
    edited March 2015 Posts: 100
    Oops, double post
  • This is great advice for jams and for sitting in too. The following things have either happened to me or I've made the following errors:

    For all soloists, you should be cognizant that you aren't overstaying your welcome when playing solos. This will depend on the size of the jam or sit, your skill level, the song form, etc. It's all a part of listening and being aware.

    For the host, an important skill is knowing how to rescue a song gone astray. If it starts getting into free jazz territory, simply saying something like "top" or telling people where to start the next bar ("Second A" or "B section" or "Last A") should get most people on track. As a guest or jammer, you should know what these things mean and how to get back on track. If this happens, there's no need to argue over who got the song off track when the song is over. Hopefully, everyone is now alert and paying attention.

    If you're going to ask to sit in in a band situation (if you haven't specifically been invited), wait until the band breaks, chat them up, and see if you can sit in. Maybe even talk about a tune or two that you want to play on. They may have already played the tune, so have a few that you know well and can play without a chart ready to go.

    Have fun and treat folks the way you want to be treated. Giving a beginner nasty looks because they messed up something is a bad vibe. Especially in a jam.

    Buco
  • husyhusy Seattle✭✭✭
    Posts: 58
    Excellent write up.

    I think a necessary addition is: No noodling in between tunes, pretty please...

    Alright, most of us will do it by reflex anyway, but at least make an effort to minimize it.
  • husyhusy Seattle✭✭✭
    Posts: 58
    Honestly, who takes pleasure playing Blues Mineur for 17 minutes with 4 guitar solos, 3 violin solos and some bad scat singing on top of it?

    True... Although, at the amateur jam I frequent (where the "3 guitars at a time" rule can be hard to put into practice), I'd take that 17 minutes of steady Minor Blues any day over the instant train-wreck that Bossa Dorado or For Sephora easily turns into.

  • If there is a large jam start your own close enough that others can see but far enough that one won't interfere. Soon enough others will notice and usually some will drift over. Smaller jams (I think of them as 6-7 max) are more intimate, and one can learn more.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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