I wanted to share an extremely positive experience that I had at an Ottawa Jam Session on Thursday, March 22 at the Alcorn Music Studio Gigspace.
I have been avoiding the Ottawa jazz jam scene for the last few months. I love to play with lots of different musicians, but I don’t always agree with how the jam sessions are run.
There are a few aspects to this evening that sets it apart from the rest of the Ottawa jam nights.
First off, the organization. This jam is run beautifully! Tim Bedner is a great host. I love the fact that everybody gets a chance to play (Tim had several students out), but it isn’t a free-for-all (or had a signup list). I noticed that when the students were on stage, there were always two members of the house band (or a member of the house band and a pro horn player) up with them. This gave the music a definite direction.
When the high-level players got up on stage, Tim let us go – play to our heart’s content and swapped players out each tune or every couple of tunes. When the music started heading in one exclusive direction, Tim broke the band down and made sure the night stayed interesting for everyone who was in attendance. One thing that gets me down about quite a few jam sessions is the fact that you play one or two tunes and your night is over. There’s no chance to build as collective and the creativity is not shared. When I ran my gigs at the Rainbow (2008-2009) and the Avant Garde (2009-2011) if a player of stature came in with their horn (or any other axe) and wanted to sit in, they could sit in all night if they wanted. It helps create a real open vibe with the gig. The fact that I was able to play more makes this jam extremely appealing.
Another big bonus on this night is the house band. Tim Bedner (guitar), Mark Alcorn (bass) and David Pontello (drums). What a band! As far as a jam session band goes – I don’t think that you can get better. They are well-versed in all styles, incredibly flexible/open to ideas and they know their tunes. They also swing hard! When I see a rhythm section like this, I want to play! I know it makes others want to play, too.
The players that came out were a great hang (and great audience). A few of Tim’s students were there (They sound good. They all sound like they work very hard – I’m looking forward to hearing them next month), Peter Hum, Tom Denison, Patrick Denison, Lucas Denison, Ed Lister, Geri Trimble, if I forgot anyone, I’m sorry. It’s nice to hear players who play fairly regularly (as opposed to once a month) and I believe that having a great rhythm section creates the buzz.
If you’re in the Ottawa area on the fourth Thursday of the month, make sure that you check out this jazz jam. It’s only $5 to get in to see a great jazz jam.
Hope to see you there!