Tips on starting a jazz jam?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Axtman, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I am starting a jazz jam at a local bar. What tips do you have and issues to avoid? Thanks!
  2. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    At a bar? Schedule it on Tuesdays from 2pm to 4:30pm. Advertise it on your local NPR station.
    SBassman, Mushroo, bearfoot and 2 others like this.
  3. CryingBass

    CryingBass Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    A noble quest. Keep us posted how it goes. Upright? What are you playing?

    @twinjet might be able to weigh in here.

    Man with No Intelligent Advice
  4. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I will play my EUB. The stage at the bar is rather small.
  5. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I’d suggest you need a playable beater bass and amp that you don’t mind people abusing somewhat for starters. Either that, or a left handed fanned fretless 7 string bass tuned in fifths, so noone will touch it.
  6. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Advertise at your local college music departments. I suspect that's where the majority of your participants will come from.
    marcwhy and MattZilla like this.
  7. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    If you don't,you will be "handed your hat"
    The Owl and nbsipics like this.
  8. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Oh great! NOW you tell me! ;-)

    Yes sir! I know a lot about jazz and have been playing in a jazz band for years. Oh, and I love jazz too.
    SBassman, JC Nelson and gebass6 like this.
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Another place to go is local music directors at schools. They were music majors, so you know there will be a certain level of ability, and after spending their days with kids, they may want some more "adult" entertainment.
    Passinwind and twinjet like this.
  10. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Form a core group to carry the band in case no one shows. Have a core repertoire of tunes. Advertise. Don't vibe new players.

    Not much else I can think of.
    mrcbass, Passinwind, 3Liter and 2 others like this.
  11. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Suspended

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Just a suggestion, but it might be a good idea to have one session for less experienced players and one session for more experienced players. That way you don't intimidate the less experienced players or frustrate the more experienced players.
    mrcbass, DeltaTango, elgecko and 2 others like this.
  12. Use a real upright, unless you want to be the only bassplayer all night.
    Mushroo likes this.
  13. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    You need to know solfedio.
  14. Have a solid house band in place. Just a trio works (bass, drums, and a chord player like guitar or keyboard/piano). Pay these guys!!! In case nobody shows up to jam there will still be good music. House players, including yourself, need to let others play their gear. Many jazz bassists might not want to play an electric upright. So they’ll either bring their own bass or probably won’t sit in. Probably.

    Other advice; be willing to encourage beginners to join in, and at the same time be willing to thank people and ask them to leave the stage if need be.

    Edit: make a list of standards to choose from. Have a sign in sheet so you can call people up in order.
    marcwhy and 3Liter like this.
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Generally the way it happens around here:
    There's a house band that does the first set. Bassists don't tend to bring their own instruments because of the space issue, so whatever you're playing will be the house bass. (although bass guitarists will likely bring their instrument). If you are using guitar, then you're not gonna get pianists to show up. If you're the master of ceremonies for the evening, IT'S YOUR JOB to make everything go smoothly. If it's a small session and you know everybody there, then you can play it kind of loose and just call cats up to play. DON'T LET EVERYONE PLAY ON EVERY TUNE. If it's a large session and there are folks you DON'T know there, HAVE A SIGN UP SHEET. You need to know WHAT INSTRUMENT and WHAT TUNE they want to play AND you don't have 6 tenor players blowing on the same tune. You're gonna have to keep an eye on the time and the number of folks waiting to play; if there are only a few folks on different instruments then you can bring up more people to play on a single tune and they can play more tunes, but if it's a lot of people and mostly only one or two different instruments, folks may not have a chance to play more than one or two tunes.
    BE KIND TO YOUR RHYTHM SECTION. If there aren't a lot of section players showing up (bassists sometimes have it particularly hard), don't keep your drummer or chordal instrument on stage all night. Give breaks.
    KEEP THE HOUSE BAND CLOSE - if things start to degenerate, you can re establish control by bring the house band back up to perform an obscure tune that you have arranged out the wazoo to keep Erstwhile Ingenues in their seats.

    AND FOR MITHRA'S SAKE - DON'T LET A TUNE GO ON FOR 20 MINUTES. Don't nobody want to hear that.

    And just a caveat - if James Carter shows up , his first chorus will be everything you just played verbatim, his second chorus will be all of that double timed and, when he gets bored with that, he'll show you how the tenor is SUPPOSED to sound....
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
    mrcbass, Axtman, MattZilla and 4 others like this.
  16. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    Tell everybody they have to play in 5/4 time.
    The Owl likes this.
  17. If you're making a Jazz jam, please use fresh Jazz, also - be sure to boil it down an adequate amount of time to allow the natural pectins to set.
    elgecko and The Owl like this.
  18. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I would carry extra charts too. Some folks don't own a book yet, others might forget. CYA.
    The Owl likes this.
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not sure I agree. It's all about consensus, if somebody doesn't know the tune, they really shouldn't be playing it. If it's the house section, then you can always wave off the tune and LEARN IT FOR NEXT TIME. But for cripe's sake, call something everybody knows.

    Actually, my initial statement isn't accurate. I'm sure I don't agree, no equivocation necessary.
  20. The Owl

    The Owl

    Aug 14, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
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