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Ballad Mangling 1.01: blow by blow account of Jam Session debacle

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

I still haven’t got over this one. Midway through last Sunday’s jam session, The Divine Miss Smiff pulls out a chart for a song called Dreamer or something – simple enough, latin (we can cock that up, no problem), ABC form with an intro and a coda – should be easy, let’s roll!

So… we started, as you do, with the Intro. 16 bars, but the Divine Miss S decides to sing the A section over the second eight, on the grounds that she never does the intro but forgot to mention it. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t work too well, but as it is a Jam Session, no-one really minds. Except Peter Da Bass, who is actually reading the chart and is therefore, a priori, lost forthwith.


Of course, this gets us to the B Section early , where upon the piano player (moi) elects to follow the form whilst the singer, realising her mistake, jumps back to the A section instead. Or maybe she doesn’t realise her mistake and jumps to the A anyway, because the rhythm section is clearly in deep disarray , and the Divine Miss Smiff likes to tidy up where she can. A f


ew more bars of rubbish and it is time for the saxophonist’s solo. When I tell you that the soloist is Captain Chaos himself, you will appreciate that things may not go well from here on o


ut, not that they were going swimmingly anyway.


So, in leaps the Captain, who decides to solo over the intro, whilst the rest of us have now embarked upon the A section. Markoen (guitar) and moi have a minor mid-debacle conference and decide to follow the soloist not the form, which promptly puts the bassist (Peter, somewhat confused already) totally off… We yell “9” at him when we get to that bar, but it doesn’t help as he doesn’t speak German…


Blistering solo from Markoen, in the middle of which, the Captain wanders around helpfully telling every one we shouldn’t be playing the Intro, which we weren’t. The piano player plays A, B, A, C on the grounds that this is what the chart says. The guitarist plays A, B, C and finishes somewhat sooner. His defence is also that this is what the chart says, and who am I to argue? The drummer, Bill I think, remains so blissfully unaware of all this that he manages to keep the tempo. That will never work…



The Divine Miss Smiff comes back in. We were probably midway through the D section at this point, which is strang


e, because there is no D section. Whatever, the Diva elects to put in a big ending, in the mistaken belief that (a) she is in charge, and (b) this might turn tragedy into triumph after all. She isn’t, and it doesn’t. The ending she attempts is somewhat different to the coda on the chart, but why not, the rest of the chart has clearly not helped so far… and the song eventually collapses in a schemozzle or a rallentando, I am not sure which.


The audience, who surely hadn’t been listening, applauds. The rest of the jam session last Sunday was almost as good.



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