The Jammers’ Bit

Is the standard of jazz getting better…

One has to wonder.. usual start at 4.10pm sharp, which gave the Captain an extra nine minutes to fiddle with the foldback, and Toby time to connect newcomer Salvatore‘s violin rig to the PA system. The foldbacks worked at their best for about 3 minutes, then went steadily downhill with adjustment. Sal’s violin setup, on the other hand, worked remarkably well, particularly when Sal was connected to the other end of it.

So… no bass player for a while, but a lively start to the session, and a rummage through the Debster‘s bag of tricks before Peter Garram got up with Miss Kay, Carol sang her usual immaculate set, and Ivan turned up to supply the missing bass lines.

Laurie put up some clean toned sax, Roger had a dip on guitar, Alan saxed and Jane sang.

As the arvo wore on the pub filled up with the usual assortment of jammers, startlingly single women reading E-books by the window, families with mothers escaping the humdrum , precocious kids, locals, interstate tourists on a last drink before the airport, and the usual motley crew of ruffians, ratbags and the St Kilda glitterati. So polycultural a crew in fact that we hardly need pay attention to the jam.

But we did, and a splendidly raucous racket it was, Okto on his axe, saxophones wailing about far too loud, and the Captain having such a good time, he managed to revive Little Sunflower and we didn’t mind a bit. Probably helped that Malcolm, in an avuncular mood, was on top of it Play barely settled until well after 7.30, when the usual few jammers ordered meals and sympathy at the bar. As ever, Gilbert saw us out, and the Perri bossed the remnant crew about until sticks. He told us he was a professional, in case we forgot. We didn’t.

Which brings me back to where we started. Is the standard of jazz getting better? It seems to be at one of its periodical high points, from which no doubt it will soon relapse, but what the hell, we had fun, again, didn’t we?

See ya this Sunday?

The Jammers Bit: An Experiment

What an appalling day for a jam session: buckets of rain just when we were arriving, and surely not many musos would be so desperate as to arrive in this downpour.

Never underestimate the depths to which a musician in need of a blow will sink, say I. We had a quorum well before 4.00, and by the end of a very long day, had 30 musos get up and trip the light fantastic, metaphorically, of course.

The Experiment: Just to make sure no-one knew what we were doing, we tried using a clipboard – wrote down everyone’s names as they rocked up, in the mistaken assumption that we would then get everyone more or less equal playing time in the order in which they arrived. Sort of. Didn’t work entirely to plan, of course, partly because we hadn’t got the plan in the first place, and partly because musicians tend to arrive in ones and twos, and not, as would have been most helpful, in band – sized chunks.

Dream on! We will try it again. Let’s face it, we did manage to get through all 30, and still get home in time for a brief snooze before breakfast. We are saving time – necessary as numbers increase, by cutting down on solos, (one or two per tune, but not the eight we had the previous week) while still trying to give all (and not just a few) soloists individual playing time.

Gilbert, cool as ever, waiting his turn

Sound: The sound system worked well from the start. This is always ominous, as the only way to go is downhill from there, which it did. Next week, we will pay particular attention to the vocals , if not the vocalists themselves. The foldbacks, however, worked well, which was a strange experience for all of us.

Highlights of the day? For me, Will, Satsuko and Guy (sax/sax/tpt) put up a hot set. Malcolm managed to stick with the PA/foldback speakers – first time he has played without the Roland amp, but really, the sound was better, and better balanced.

Will, Guy and (?) Satsuko put up a hot set

Lisette played her usual immaculate self, with a touch of suave, if not an arpeggio or three.

John Perri seems to have hit a purple patch and again drummed beautifully. Mac and Hussein not far behind him.

There were far too many vocalists for the Captain’s liking (I wonder how many he does like?) but he persisted and got them all up. Newcomers Fiona and Anne the Second were terrific. Gilbert and Yuko in particular copped a dodgy mic channel, which the brains trust attempted to remedy by adjusting, then disconnecting the Bass channel. I cannot imagine why this wouldn’t work…but it surely didn’t. Sorry chaps, will do better next week.

All About the Bass: Ivan played most of the arvo, never missed a beat and was pick of the day.

Definitely a bigger and better jam – the standard of the music was consistently higher than usual.