Jazz jam report 20.3.16

With Captain Chaos and his cohorts in Castlemaine last Sunday and Ted W. Under the weather with a health complaint , I , Mr. T.( Not really a Colonel but my late father was one of sorts) was summoned by The Captain to take charge of the emergency B reserve team of substitute orange boys and girls of the Melbourne jazz jamming fraternity.

I was warned I may have to play the central role of pianist and personnel coordinator of the impromptu ensembles that often set the bench mark for the musical train wrecks of our epoch.

I arrived at 4 pm with my gear and having perched myself on the drum stool with newcomer Slowie (Rhymes with wowie zowie) on Bass, Rob ( The silvered haired Hendrix), Jeff on piano and his chum Bern on vocals a few songs were disassembled and eviscerated before being put to rest .

I was then on keys for some sight reading of the chords and the themes at the same time as well as long solos with lots of face pulling and musical diarrhea during the solos.

It is good that I practice the piano at home because all that came in handy and as Rob on guitar and I did battle with some songs that rarely get a look in when there are singers and horn players present .

Evan chimed in on clarinet but I was left to map out the the themes and chords to endless Mr. T. Song book charts

such as

: “ Nostalgia in time square”; “ Wave”; “ Mr Magic” ; “Out of Nowhere”; ”Just friends”; “ Mr P.C.” ; “ Memphis underground “ etc. with a young new chappie on drums who was too talented to have name that I can recall went over quite well.

Then Glen the publican took over on drums and spotting new faces who were waiting for their turn to die a thousand deaths in front of charts that they may or not have seen before. I was too busy to write down names, organize everything and play piano at the same time. I must Thank Il Duce for his assistance and good humour with these things.

Glen and I even finished some songs at the same time. The demure and modest Slowie Zowie was still there on bass but refused offers to play some solos.

Finally Lisette , the Goldie Hawn of Jazz appeared on keys and vocals and I moved to the bass for the rest of the jam , Ben took up the challenge on guitar and Allan Richards( no relation to Keef) played drums on

“ Lucky Southern “ , yes another non 1930’s warhorse and a non-show tune by a composer /pianist Keith Jarrett, who is not quite dead yet. I could get used to this shortage of crapola film song dirges and mawkish clichéd show tunes and songs from 1870 .

Peter added some sax to “ Gone with the wind” and then Audrey sang “ Autumn Leaves” in French so in a sense we reverted to the format and material that I rail against as my of my life’s missions.

The Bruce and Chrissie show went on in earnest and the show must go on and finally Anne Smith sang a couple of numbers to finish at 8 pm.

If I have left anybody out it was because they were too good looking and too talented for my feeble mind to cope with and the memory has been expunged lest it short circuit what is left of my middle aged acid casualty brain .

There is no Jazz Jam on Easter Sunday. I will see you all there the week after which is the first Sunday of April 2016.

Have a good break and keep learning to play those Thelonious Monk tunes so we can play them instead of “ Summertime” or some other done to death hackneyed rubbish!!

Mr T (aka Col T)

What Are You Woodshedding#1?

The journey from ‘beginning jammer’ to ‘creative improviser’ involves many steps.

Quite apart from the necessary acquisition of enough instrumental technique to create and convey your musical thoughts to others – i.e. to ‘speak’ – there is a need also to present your ideas in an orderly fashion that communicates with your audience.

The tyro jammer will often find the best beginning steps of improvisation are found in just embellishing an existing tune – altering note placements and phrases and filling gaps in the melodic line. This method does not involve much involvement in study of harmony or reading notation, as much can be done by ear. It does however confine you to a limited area of exploration and expression in the longer term.

The be-boppers of the ‘40s faced similar challenges in adapting the ‘public domain’ tunes of the time to the tsunami of harmonic and rhythmic challenges of their new music. Rather than take those known current tunes per se as their medium, they kept the main harmonic structures as the basis for their new rhythmic and melodic ideas. Even before the bop era similar adaptations existed (‘Moten Swing’ based on ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’ being just one example). Apart from the blues in its many forms, the harmonic structure of ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’ became the basis of more bebop tunes than any other, although ‘How High The Moon, Honeysuckle Rose’, ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’, ’Lady Be Good’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ also got plenty of exercise.

Weekly Test
For the next few weeks, I will pose to you a list of 5 jazz tunes (called ‘contrafacts’ in the trade) and challenge you to identify (for your own personal gratification and repertoire expansion) what indeed was the popular/published tune from which they are derived.

Answers will be included in the next week’s “Jammers News” along with a fresh set of contrafacts. You will already know some of the popular/published tunes and perhaps may even go on and add the jazz tunes to your bag…..  here we go:

  1. Ornithology     (Benny Harris) derived from
  2. Hackensack     (Thelonious      Monk)
  3. Lullaby of Birdland  (George Shearing)
  4. The Preacher  (Horace Silver)
  5. Oleo                (Sonny Rollins)

See you next week!….