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Etiquette for an open jam?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Anti-Product, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. Well, I don't play the upright (yet, if I can find one) but I think you guys might know more about the jazz scene. Anyway, I have been playing jazz on electric, mostly fretless, for about a year in groups, and probably another year before that in my lessons now. Anyway, I just did a camp at the Kimmel Center in Philly for jazz, and I had the good fortune of being taught by Mike Boone (and if/when I find an upright, I will probably take lessons with him). He dug my playing, and invited me to come to his jam sessions at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus on Sunday and Tuesday, and I said I would (I am on vacation now), and I really hope to get there when I get back in a week.

    I have never been to a jazz jam, or any jam for that matter, so what can I expect? Will I be shunned by bringing in an electric bass? What about coming in with my mom (I still have the 11pm curfew because I'm under 18, and it's not the greatest part of town apparently)? What can I expect to play if anything, and what should I memorize? The only tunes I have memorized are So What and Footprints, but I can bring a Real Book, correct?

    Sorry for being so long winded, but I always end up doing that when I'm excited about doing something. I'm really happy to have the chance to network, and hopefully play with people who are much better than me. I should add that I am decent at playing, I played for the first time this year (my junior year) with my high school jazz band under Andrew Neu, if anybody knows him. We ended our season with a tour of Italy in June, and they loved us there, but I understand that this is a different thing. I can walk a blues, I keep decent time, and I am a pretty advanced sightreader in both bass and treble clef, thanks to my guitar and oboe lessons. My biggest weaknesses are my ears, which are not very quick or accurate, because I have focused more on sightreading and technique. But I hope that I can get better at that too! And finally, I hope that there aren't any threads like this already, but a search turned up nothing, and I just spent quite a while typing this long-winded essay-post, haha.
  2. Ok, so he invited you, which means he knows you only play slab bass, and some upright. He might let you play his upright on a tune or two. just so you can see what it's like. Only expect to sit in on one or two tunes, probably the ones you already have memorized. Also bear in mind that he most probably invited you as a learning opportunity for you.Take advantage of it. There is no rule that says your mom can't go with you, she might like to meet your future teacher.
  3. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    When you get there, talk to your teacher and the person running the jam to explain your situation, he/she will probably let you call the tune, the key, and the tempo.
    Have fun!
    You will suck and everyone on the bandstand will encourage and support you. If you don't suck they will encourage and support you.
    Have fun!
    If you have a question, ask.
    Have fun!

    I don't think you would have been invited without you teacher knowing the situation, he will be your mentor for the session.
    I think it's cool that your mom is supporting your music. It might be a different story if she's still driving you to your gigs when you're 30 though. ;)
    Have fun!
  4. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    Just be yourself. Be humble. Watch. Listen. Listen. Listen. Play your tune or two and then get off and let someone else play unless you are asked to stay. Don't be nervous, just enjoy yourself. You will be in these kinds of situations for the rest of your musical life. Get comfortable with the "not knowing what's going to happen". Have a great time. Good luck.
  5. juuzek


    May 7, 2007
    Ortlieb's will be packed, so most likely you won't have the chance to play more than 2 tunes. But it will be fine to bring your electric, as I have heard electric guitarists and [yikes] saxaphone during the open mic night.
    Ortlieb's is a bar, but I have seen lots of underage players there playing with the 'haus'band. Its a great crowd and you'll have a blast playing there. So go and play 'Footprints' and have fun!
    PS Northern Liberties is the new Old City... [so don't be afraid]
  6. juuzek


    May 7, 2007
    ...and leave your mom at home!
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    In the beginning, just play stuff you know. Footprints is probably a good choice and a safe bet. You should probably have an idea of what to do before you go on stage, esp if you are playing with complete strangers and your teacher not on stage with you. Also, be ready to know the form... head, solos, trading 4s, head, tag. Expect to play some sort of tag at the end, so you should be familiar how people typically end the particular song you're playing. If you don't, expect one to pop up and you will have to follow along. Most songs just repeat the last 4 bars and end on the 4th repeat.

    If they make you play stuff you don't know, just go with it and mangle your way through. It's an excellent learning experience. At your stage, always say no to songs you have never even heard before. Stick to stuff you at least are familiar with, even if you've never played it before. In the beginning, it's ok to turn suggestions down. Also, have a couple more tunes ready just in case someone says they can't play Footprints or doesn't want to play So What. Sometimes, the group before you played your tune and you have to have an alternate tune ready to go.
  8. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    All Blues, Footprints, All the Things You Are, So What, How High the Moon, Oleo, Softly As in a Morning Sunrise, Stolen Moments, Blue Bossa....and of course, the blues....

    These are good bets...you might throw out a few suggestions if you get asked what you want to play. Don't play too loud but don't be shy either.
    If you get a solo, take a chorus and get out...

    It's gonna be a lot of fun.
  9. Arnold

    Arnold Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    PA/MD/New York City
    All good suggestions. Here's mine; get there when it starts, listen to everybody play, play when you're called and listen to everybody play, then when you're done playing, stay and listen as long as you're allowed to stay to listen.
    Oh yeah, if you need it (I do), bring your real book along, and why play someone's upright if you don't know how? Play the bass you know how to play, and do your best.
  10. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    +1 Arnold, and I would add to that:

    While listening to everyone else play, get the titles of the tunes they are playing, especially the ones you don't know. Then take those home and shed them for next week. It seems through my travels that every area has it's own list of standards outside the normal "dirty dozen" (all the things, summertime, another you...) and the faster you are speaking the same tunes as everyone else, the more you'll be getting calls from them. Not to mention how rapidly your book would be expanding.
  11. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Unless she's hot.
  12. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    All of the previous posts contain good advice-especially the idea of going a couple times to see how it works and what tunes are played. Be aware there can be a competetive aspect to some sessions; try not to be intimidated if that's the case and keep in mind musicians can have a very dry if not dark sense of humor. Tell Michael Steve Alcott says hey.
  13. Haha, thanks for the responses! I would prefer to leave my mom at home, but if I do, I would have to leave at around 10:30 to make my 11 curfew. I will be 18 in a month, but I want to get into it before school starts, so I may have to bring her with me anyway. I will keep everything said here in mind.
  14. nathanmcnathan

    nathanmcnathan Inactive

    Jan 25, 2008
    Barrie, Ontario
    Whatever you do, NO SLAP BASS!!!
  15. You know Curfew laws don't apply if you are headed home in a car. And you probably dont have to be 18, check you states laws. I know in wisconsin you only have curfew til you are older than 16.
  16. Nope, in PA the law is that until you are 18, you cannot drive between 11 pm and 5 am unless you are doing charitable work or something like that, and you need to have the documents for that. If you mean that they don't apply when my mom is driving me home, well yea, I hope that law never goes into effect!
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Interesting to hear about the scene over there...:eyebrow:

    It's funny how young people seem to have less freedom than they do over here - so I remember going to bars when I was about 14 and playing BG in bands from about 15 - although I never had any idea about Jazz then! :p

    I was at Jazz Summerschool last week and some of the players in the beginners' group were very young - like 12 (!) and a guitarist celebrated his 16th birthday by playing a tune in the bar with everybody else. :)

    They did say that under-16s had to be accompanied by a parent - but I think he just scraped in without! ;)
  18. Arnold

    Arnold Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    PA/MD/New York City
    I think most of us older (30's-40's) people on this board from the US are unfamiliar with curfews and the like from our youth. I made my living playing bar gigs starting at 19 and for me there was a great R&B jam session nearby that I went at 17 with my friends who were 16 and 14! The drinking laws were a little easier then. The list of names that I saw at this Jam session and got to play with is amazing, but most of us growing up in or near New York City probably have similar experiences. The other thing I remember was that monday was the Jam session night because it was the only night people didn't have gigs!
  19. Yea, I think the laws have definitely gotten harsher. I know that I can get into this place because it's not a bar, or it's not considered one or something..Mr. Boone told me that it was a 'family friendly place' and that he had brought a young relative of his in before or something like that. I know some places have laws that underage people are allowed to play in bars, and they can only be on the stage or something like that.
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I remember doing gigs in Columbia SC with Chris Potter (15 at the time), his parents would drop him off and pick him up. The cats (Johnny Helms, Terry Rosen, Teddy Linder, Jim Mings et al) were all pretty protective of him, I think his parents were comfortable that he was in a situation with people who had his best interests at heart.
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