Jam Session Ethics Insight #3: A Slight Diversion

Alright I’d like to tell you a story of a very interesting situation that I experienced at my session at Wally’s about 8 or 9 years ago on a hot July day.

So the session is going along quite smoothly. The front door is open to get some air circulation in and out of the club. A lady walks in who seemed to be my age or few years older than me. She approaches the bartender as I’m soloing. When I’m done with my solo the bartender tells me that this lady would like to perform a spoken word piece. I said that this was cool because every once in a while we’ll have some decent spoken word artists perform with us at the session. So I invited her to the stage after we were done with the tune we were playing. She told me that before she was to begin she would need us to close the door and that there was to be complete silence. I found this to be a rather odd request but we went along with it anyway. By this time, all eyes are on her because I’ve introduced her and she asked for these things on stage in front of the audience and the musicians.

So now it’s time to begin the piece. I asked her if she would like any backing from the rhythm section and she said that she would do a solo piece. So I said cool and stepped to the side and gave her the stage. She closed her eyes, put her head down, and started to scream at the top of her lungs!! It was the loudest scream that I’ve ever experienced in person. I, along with everyone else in the club was completely stunned for the next 30-45 seconds. The screaming went on and on and I didn’t know whether to interrupt her or let it go on. Before I even had a chance to act, the bartender had already come from the back of the bar and grabbed the lady and escorted her out of the club and told her not to come back.

This was one of those instances where I felt totally helpless in a situation that I was supposed to be in charge of. It was definitely a learning experience for me. From that moment on, I made it a point to emphasize the fact that it’s called a jam session for a reason…we are supposed to play with each other…

Keep Swingin,

Jason Palmer


4 Responses to “Jam Session Ethics Insight #3: A Slight Diversion”

  1. I was at a jam session this past week. The band on stage was piano, sax, bass, drums and myself on trumpet. After suggesting a few tunes that no one in the band knew, the bass player suggested we play “There will never be another you.” I ask the piano player if its in ‘Eb’, and he says ‘yes’. I told the sax player that he could play the melody, and that I would listen because there was 4 bars at the end of the first A section that I didn’t remember.
    Instead of playing the melody(or anything close to it) he immediately launches into a VERY chromatic solo. I’m listening and everything sounds VERY messed up. It sounds almost like the piano player is playing ‘Sweet Georgia Brown Changes”, the bass player sounds like she is in the ballpark of “There will never be another you”, and the Sax player might as well be playing completely free.
    When the sax player is finished, its time for me to solo, so I play something very close to the melody, very in the changes to hopefully bring us all back together….and it sounds terrible! I then decide I will just listen to the piano player and react to what he’s playing. I do this for about 16 bars, when that sounds bad too, stop playing and walk off.
    I say to the sax player “What the hell are they playing it sounds awful”
    he says “They’re just not experienced”
    I say, “I don’t hear ‘there will never be another you’ at ALL!’
    he says, “This is ‘There is no greater love”

    Due to a miscommunication, and the fact that no one played the melody. The bass player was playing “There will never be another you” and the piano player was playing “There is no Greater Love”. I guess this is what happens when people don’t listen to each other.

    I packed my stuff up and left.


    • Man J,

      I’m sorry to hear about this experience. Sometimes it takes more than musical communication to pull off a fun session. Everyone has to be on board…

  2. Back in school in PA, played a weekly gig at a weird restaurant that used to be one of those 60’s futuristic rotating places. All run down by then and barely in business, but they let us play… we had this one guy we called Frank. He’d come in once a week and always ask to sing “My Way”, even specifying that he wanted it in Bb. Every week, for almost a year, he would wind up singing the melody perfectly – in E. We would manage to move to E for him, only to have him switch back to Bb. For some reason, when this guy hear “My Way”, he always wanted to be a tritone away from where we were… I wish I was making it up.

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