Jam session

Article

January 20, 2022

A jam session (sometimes translated as tocada or zapada) is an informal musical improvisation meeting. The classic definition of a jam session is due to George Frazier: "An informal meeting of jazz musicians, with a temperamental affinity, who play for their own enjoyment of music not written or rehearsed".[1] In its origins, the jam session was a highly competitive meeting. It acquired, according to Peter Clayton and P. Gammond, the atmosphere of a "gladiatorial combat" when two or more players of the same instrument were brought together. Likewise, according to the same authors, the term jam was sometimes used as a synonym for jazz. According to Alejo Carpentier,[2] in French the terms faire le bœuf, taper le bœuf or even bœuffer are often used to refer to jam sessions, while Cuban Latin jazz and salsa musicians refer to "download". Over time, the concept of jam has ended up being applied to genres other than jazz, especially blues, rock, rap, and even folk music such as Irish and bluegrass.

Origin of the term

The denomination would come from the verb to jam, which means "get in the way", "crowd" or "squash". According to some authors, it appears in the early 1930s and why it is applied in the indicated context has an unclear origin.[3] The same thing happens with other terms that were introduced into the English language through jazz music, such as hip, hep, or hepcat.

Development of a jam session

Normally, outside the working hours of the participating musicians (after hours), the session was organized in a club, venue or even a private home (in the New York jazz scene, informal gatherings of musicians in private flats or in private apartments were popular). parties). On the fly, the base songs are selected and the jam is developed. The main melody (sometimes just a riff) is usually played as a group, and then each musician present improvises on it (or on the harmony). Unlike in studio sessions or concerts, musicians have no limitations, being able to improvise freely, confront techniques, styles and ideas, and take risks with innovations.[4]

Jam Evolution

The jam concept itself was initially a subversion of the rules of show business and allowed young instrumentalists to play in the company of established musicians. However, the music industry soon learned to use them from a commercial perspective. The clearest case of this was the Jazz At The Philharmonic (JATP) concerts. the 40s, with a strong competitive character, which pitted local figures against passing artists. According to Peter Clayton, when a musician, in the opinion of the spectators, beat another, he was said to have "carved" or "cut" him. These types of "battles" had a strong hot jazz tradition, among the street bands that advertised venues in New Orleans, to the point that the winners would drag the crowd that night to their venue.[5] Very shortly after, in the glorious days of 52nd Street in New York, the jams spread to a large number of clubs. Those at Hickory House, promoted by Commodore Records boss Milt Gabler, and which featured assiduous musicians such as Eddie Condon, Henry Red Allen, Ben Webster, etc., remained in particular history. There were also, in Greenwich Village, Nick's or Kelly's Stables, both with a Dixieland trend. However, the most famous were those organized at Minton's a few years later, a veritable laboratory where bebop was tested and consolidated, with Charlie Parker, Cha

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