I checked out the new JazzWorks jam session location on Friday. There’s a lot to like about it. While I miss the Carleton Tavern folks, who were friendly and incredibly supportive of us, I won’t miss the difficult acoustics and cramped conditions of the place. At the Georgetown, the new location in Ottawa South, you can hear and you can move around much more easily.
That being said, attendance wasn’t all it could have been. Usually, the first jam session after jazz camp is packed. This one wasn’t, although there was a respectable crowd. Maybe change just takes getting used to, particularly the shift to Friday night from Thursday. Some potential jammers prefer to stay home with their families on Friday nights. Some potential jammers are just worn out from a week of work. Some potential jammers, probably, just weren’t paying attention.
And maybe some potential jammers were at City Folk, just down the street, listening to Van Morrison. That would explain why there wasn’t a parking space to be found within a 10-minute walk of the Georgetown. For all I know, some potential jammers are still out there today, circling.
For future jams that aspect of life will be easier. Years ago, when the jam session was at the Bayou, a block or so away, parking was never a big problem. The Georgetown is comfortable and the jam session fits well inside it. There is a natural stage area and the sound carries better to the back than it did at the Carleton, partly because the room is more or less square, rather than long and narrow.
I didn't sample the food, but I know there's a deep-fried Mars bar on the menu. Say no more.
As for the jam itself, there was some good playing, and some people who don’t normally participate in jam sessions got up and played. Some difficult tunes were attempted, which is admirable, although not without peril. I added to my list of tunes that are risky at jam sessions — Blue in Green and Lush Life. The first one, with its odd 10-bar structure is just an invitation to get lost and I was one of those who did. The second, with its tough key and complicated chord progression is one you don’t sight-read. There a several false starts, but it came out OK thanks to Mary Moore’s confident singing. I watched that one from a safe distance.
Those reservations aside, there is a lot to be said for getting away from Centrepiece and Satin Doll. The next jam is scheduled for Oct. 16. There’s a football game that night, so you might be circling a bit, but don’t let that keep you away.
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.