Why Bother?

There has been some discussion on the purpose of the jams of late, and your opinions are sought –

As a reminder, here are some random thoughts on what we are doing:

Joining In: How many musos have turned up with very little experience of playing with a band, joined in and had a ball. (if anyone is wondering, around 40 new faces turn up each year – close to 1000 since the jams started.)

Learning on the Gig: Steve Sedergreen, jazz pianist and educator, who started the Friday night sessions at the old, old Dizzy’s, is big on this one: theoretical studies, plus practice don’t cut it – the third wheel is getting experience of playing live. The Jam Sessions provide this opportunity.

Musical Excellence: As in not pursuing this. The pursuit of excellence is what the Schools of Jazz are for – you will notice not many students turn up at jam sessions. If the aim was solely to achieve excellence, we should have given up about 24 years ago. Not all musicians want to follow someone who is clearly better than them.

Three specific criticisms need to be discussed:

· Criticism of beginners, hopefully well intentioned. This came up a few weeks ago. We should never forget just how terrifying it is to get up and perform for the first time (or the second, or the hundredth…) Newcomers to Jam sessions need all the positive encouragement they can get.

· Criticism of the Jammers playing a Friday night session and depriving professional musicians of income. This has been raised by several people and has some validity. In defence of the Jammers (who have just done four weeks on spec at the Royal Standard, using 13 different musicians) the pub only started having live music because we originally approached them and suggested it; the “income” of the professional musicians was an insulting 34c above the legal minimum adult wage, and the Captain Chaos Quartet is reportedly pulling substantially more people into the pub than the bands tried before.

· Some musos have turned up at a Jam, sat around, and left before we can get them a spot. We have had this happen three or four times in the last six months, generally because we have been too busy, occasionally because individual musos tend to hog the spot and a couple of times because the standard was scary high.

Have Your Say!

I would suggest comments to the management of the organisation, but there isn’t any (*)… your thoughts on the Jams, however, random, are sought – email to:


* Footnote: There isn’t any… management or organisation, take your pick.

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