Thinking about the new JazzWorks year, our thoughts turn, naturally, to jazz camp, which will run from Aug. 21 to Aug. 24 — starting a couple of days earlier if you come to the Composers Symposium extension. But there’s a long way to go before then, starting with the first Sunday afternoon jam session, Jan. 5.
Betty Ann Bryanton has been a JazzWorks force for some time, editing the weekly Ottawa Jazz Happenings, no mean feat, and also helping out with jam session organization and frequently stepping in as MC, which is no mean feat either. This month she gets to feature as lead vocalist in the host band, Tangerine, which also features John Graham on saxes, Bohne Forsberg on bass, Matt Welsh on drums and Nathan Corr on guitar.
Mention of Nathan, one of the young musicians who made a big impression at last summer’s camp, raises the hope that more young musicians will be there on Sunday, before heading back to school. Part of the reasoning behind the creation of the Sunday jams was that they would enable enable more students, both high school and university to come out who would have difficulty attending Thursday night sessions, either because they were on Thursday night or in a tavern, or both.
By the way, one of the prime movers in the creation of those Sunday jams, Janet Hofstetter, was honoured at Christmas jam session for her fine work as a member of the JazzWorks board. She stepped down this fall. She is still active as a Sunday jam session co-ordinator and would remind you that it is at the Carleton Tavern, 223 Armstrong St. from 2-5. If you come in from Armstrong Street and go through the door on the left, you will see a bunch of people who don’t look like they’re at a jam session. No fear. Keep walking through, turn right at the pool table, go through the door and that’s where you pay your $5 cover, listen to Tangerine’s set and join in afterwards.
A little New Year’s present
Years ago, one of the obscure trumpet players I admired was Marvin Stamm, who occasionally was allowed a solo in Stan Kenton’s large band. One night in New York, I was at the Village Vanguard on a Monday night when the great Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Band was playing and the main trumpet soloist, other than Thad, was killing me. It turned out to be Marvin Stamm. He hasn’t turned up too often since, but I found this while making the rounds of trumpet players on YouTube recently.
You’ll hear Stamm and a piano player, Richard Wyands, playing a few choruses of All The Things You Are, which is nice, but what is nicer is the discussion that follows, where Stamm offers advice to the would-be improviser. What I like is how smart it is without being overly technical. He is not telling you what scale to play over what chord, but rather dealing with the thought processes that go into improvising and the preparation, mostly through listening, for making those thought processes work best.
Every Christmas, for 13 years, singer Gaby Warren has hosted the JazzWorks jam session. Which is not to say that his opening set is always the same. It isn’t. For one thing, the band is different from year to year. The consistent element there is that Gaby always picks a sterling set of accompanists. This year’s lineup:
Rob Frayne (piano and tenor sax)
Linsey Wellman (alto sax)
Garry Elliott (guitar)
Alrick Huebener (bass)
Mike Essoudry (drums)
The name of the group also changes from year to year. This time the Elves theme has been abandoned and Gaby’s band will be called Ana's Santas in honour of Gaby's wife Ana (aka Annie) who, according to Gaby, celebrates a significant birthday the same week.
Gaby’s repertoire is as interesting as his personnel. He has been known to do what he calls the Coltrane version of We Three Kings. He has also been know to do a lovely ballad from Cuba. Who knows what he will do this year. We do know that he is threatening to do a hip version of Winter Wonderland.
The jam session is on Thursday, Dec. 19. The host band’s set begins at 8:30. Jamming begins about 45 minutes later. In keeping with the seasonal theme, the jam session will feature a raffle of some nifty items, including CDs by JazzWorks participants and faculty, art work and various other goodies. Incredibly difficulty skill-testing questions may be asked.
Comments will be 'approved' before they are made visible. If you are leaving a comment, please sign it with your full name. Anonymous comments won't be published.
About this blog
Tune Up won't be a calendar of events — Ottawa Jazz Happenings takes care of that. But it will discuss events and issues of interest to the JazzWorks community. Journalist, author, trumpet player and a jazz camper since 1999, Charley Gordon is a former vice-president of JazzWorks.