It's what jazz camp is all about — making musical friends, forming groups and eventually performing in public. Being a first-time host band at the JazzWorks jam session is full of excitement, frustration and tiny terrors. We asked Margaret Dalziel, piano player in the Six-Pack Jazz Quintet, to write about the experience. Six Pack was the host band at the Feb. 21 jam session. Here's her report.
"The Six-Pack Jazz Quintet is a JazzCamp spin-off. The original group of six were in Remi Bolduc’s combo during the summer of 2011. Much to the amazement of jazz newbies Leslie Cass, our vocalist, and myself, we were invited by some of the guys to join them in weekly jam sessions. And to our further amazement we were not booted out after the first couple of practices!
"And so 18 months later here we are hosting the monthly jam session. We’re now down a guitar player and have had a turnover of bass players, but to our complete astonishment the Six-Pack has transformed itself from a confused and motley crew that couldn’t be sure they were all playing the same tune, to a group of amateur musicians that come perilously close to competence as jam session participants.
"So what did the journey look like? Leslie and I were fortunate to hook up with a group of people that were committed both to improving as musicians and to having fun. I thought I’d be good for about two months of weekly practices, but in very short order this imposition on my schedule become something I looked forward to every week. Incredibly nobody missed a practice unless they were out of town. One week Richard Jodoin, our charming and talented sax player, left Ottawa before dawn to drive to Boston to buy two saxes and be back in time for our 6:30 practice!
"Right from the beginning we institutionalized a beer-break in the middle of our practices—hence our name. We soon came to learn that our drummer Owen Munn’s extensive knowledge of the jazz repertoire was matched by his vast knowledge of the region’s microbreweries—not to mention his endless supply of puns!
"Overtime we discovered other talents. Our bassist Gord Graham was not only a seasoned musician but also a great prospector of all things quirky. First there were the songs—Sugisarishi Eien No Hibi—then our spectacular logo. And Gord pushed us out of our comfy practice nest last summer when he declared that he was going to host a F*cking Elegant Garden Party featuring us as the entertainment. We were shocked and delighted when his neighbours clapped instead of throwing tomatoes.
"The FEGP was followed by a Chili & Jam hosted by Leslie, and several tunes at monthly jams. Over time we became steadier and more confident. Nobody objected when Owen said he had signed us up to host a jam session… but we all had apprehensions. The intensity of our practices increased. In addition to hosting our practices Leslie took on the important job of documenting our set list.
"Finally the big day came. As nervous as we were, we were pretty confident that we were practiced enough that it couldn’t be a complete train wreck. And in the end it went great. Leslie had blossomed into a captivating performer and the wonderful JazzWorks community embraced our efforts. Thanks to all of you for supporting our journey as fledgling jazz musicians and a personal thank you to Yves Laroche, my marvelously inspirational and patient piano teacher."
The set list:
No Moon At All
Sugisarishi Eien No Hibi
Lullaby of Birdland
It Ain't Right
Everybody Wants to be a Cat
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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.