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The Jam Sessions: What to expect

Quite why anyone in their right mind would want to attend a jam session remains a mystery. One day someone sensible will turn up and all will be revealed. No Hortense, that is not what I meant at all…


So supposing you read the ad in Melband, Instagram or Facebook, or google “Melbourne jam session”, or take the advice of someone who really doesn’t like you, or get lost on your way to the Municipal Bottle dump in the hope of a windfall, just what could you expect when you stumble through the door?


Well, musical tragedies, the most appalling racket, and disharmony for a start. And that is just the saxophones warming up in the back room. But why just bag the saxaphones when there are richer pickings ?


Drummers... We all like the extended drum solos in between every number, and the slap and rattle jockies rarely let us down. The appalling racket ensures that no one can hear what song, key or tempo the soloist or singer might be calling for, and that gives us at least three excuses for getting it wrong.


Bass players: there are have been two types of bass player who have come to the jam: Taariq in his bebop mode, and everyone else. ‘Nuff said.


Guitarists. Few people know that the guitar is a direct descendant of the mid fourteenth century left handed lute. This is because it isn’t true. Or is it? Whatever, we can only be amazed at how the guitarist can play a melodic line, comp a million chords and put in the bass line all at once, without ever interfering with the tempo and rhythm being set by the bass and drums. That said, the 2021 versions have been rather good.


Singers: these fall into three categories: singers who are so inexperienced that they know no better, singers who are so experienced that they should know better, and singers who used to know better, but have forgotten. The Divine Miss Smith falls into all three categories.


Captain Chaos: He maintains he carefully orchestrates the musician changes so that everyone gets a fair turn; and he never gets the least bit irritated when anyone just presumes they can get up and barge in because they feel like it. Or wants to play just one more tune, or doesn’t want to get up because they are waiting for a more accomplished line-up.


The Pianists: Anyone who has read this far will be wondering about the pianists. Most of them are good looking, modest, talented to a fault, and generously hold the whole thing together. The other one writes the Newsletter when Freda Trout can't be bothered.



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