I Caused a Near-Riot at Small's




Hi

I had an amazing time at Smalls recently...i nearly caused a riot! ... see, I*ve been making as many jam sessions lately...partially coming out of a feeling of *let the people decide*....like, on Monday nights, there are 4 jam sessions in NYC like from 7:30 pm to 7:30 a.m. You can start at the free jam session held by the Jazz Foundation of America at the NYC 802 AFM hall until 10:30, then go either to The Up Over Jazz Cafe in Park Slope Brooklyn, or to Lenox Lounge until @ 2 am, then to St. Nick*s until around 3 or 4, then to Smalls...

On this particular day I had played a session with Connie Crothers and Roger Mancuso and then went and played a session with a friend of mine who also plays alto, then, since he owns a restaurant, I played in his basement until 3:30 a.m. then went to Small*s...there really is this attitude-first scene there but it doesn't* mean anything to me...the only thing that surprises me from those kids is if ever someone is cool and stretches out...There are some good players there, like Jimmy Lovelace, Sasha Perry and Spike Willner, but a lot of those kids are kind of just out of college , so to speak...maybe not the most experienced, but not the most open minded or well-listened...

anyway, first these sax players started hassling me...like there is this one cat, the first time I met this kid [who had a gig there!], he says to me *everybody calls me *the soloist* because I stretch out so much when I solo! * [I've changed his nickname to protect the guilty] so *Solo* [whom I actually had heard and I would never have guessed at his nickname...he just sounded like another *Clone-trane* to me...] tries to tell me what and when to play and my feeling is that, this is a jam session and not a band or a rehearsal and, if what I do goes along with the tune, that*s my only real obligation, besides not getting in other peoples way when they solo...it was wild, because I have been going to jams for many years and it was unique in my experience to be treated in such a weird way...but I put that up to the school scene, which usually serves to separate people from their art...well, to me, the best teacher were never teaching in the schools...and there is so much focus on non-artist points of view--grades, semesters...and teaching from dry theory and technique...and it is for the convenience of the institution, not for the benefit of the student, and it shows...

like, the scene with a jam session is to stretch out and, someone yelling at you while you are playing is really wild... like there was an audience there that night [which is not always the case] and they saw what was happening...the more this cat hassled me, the more I stretched out and wailed!!!!...I would just relax and get more into my playing, not take him on, even though he was going nuts during my solo...so they started screaming...just to make sure, I talked to the piano player after it was all over..I said, *like those guys were yelling at me but it seems to me that a jam session is to stretch out at...* he said, *I agree with you completely*... we shook hands and I said, *well, you know where it*s coming from....*

In an other tune, these two saxists decided to play some line that I didn*t know on some tune that we had all played... so I just stretched out even more! and, guess what, this one drummer who was a friend of the saxists literally jumped up and poked me and yelled to play the line or whatever he said...I just stretched out more!!! the audience went wild...a bunch of people talked to me after and really dug my playing, musician and fan alike...

to me, it's cool if everyone agrees on something like a line, but it does *not* make it as an exclusionary scene at an open jam, especially if it was not agreed to beforehand... i mean, you can hear examples from Pres to Bird of people stretching out over a melody or line !

be yourself, take it to the people, and don't look for trouble but don*t let sh*t stop you...

I played this session at the Union hall and this trumpet player, who wasn*t bad, said, while we were playing the out chorus on *Star Eyes*:

*Play the melody!*

Well, I just did what I do...that is to say, I stretch out on a tune...and figured I*d talk about it later...not while I am playing... he wasn't so much hostile as he was locked in...

but I*ve never had anyone jump up and poke me before...I did see a drummer jump up from behind his drums and slug someone, but that was because [!] the trumpet player was playing in this guy*s face and the cat was a little excitable anyway...

a strong reaction is a good reaction [as long as it's not hostile] !



======== UPDATE:

figured I*d update the scene...just with experiences for now... will be more specific and accurate date-wise in the future... it is interesting taking in a feeling of the importance of jamming...

people from audience:

*...really enjoyed it...*

*...that was thrilling...really thrilling...*

*...who *are* you?...* [asked by bassist...]



Riot 2003

I was hanging out at Smalls, the jazz club in NYC, just practicing by myself in the backroom, waiting to maybe jam around 5 a.m....
The saxophonist, Arnie Lawrence [who has heard CCQt and is friends with Max Roach] said to me:
"You are playing the most original stuff of anyone here!"
So I asked:
"Well, why do I get hired less than anyone here?"
"Because you are playing the most original stuff of anyone here!"
...a nice story, sure, but basically very frustrating...



Please e-mail comments to:(rctabnik@inch.com)



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