Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Madge from Altona's Little Book of Etiquette for Singers at Jam Sessions.

I was talking to Madge  from Altona the other day. They have magnificent lamp posts in Altona. Madge was leaning on one and it only fell over a bit. But I digress. Madge was bemoaning the lack of etiquette in singers at jam sessions these days, and has kindly come up with some simple ideas to help you at your next jazz triumph.

Introductions and Thankyous: Start by saying welcome to the Poisoned Ferret, (or whatever the name of the venue is). Particularly since the singer before you has already done that, and the singer before that. Jeez, most people had forgotten that was where they had come to, and I am sure the bass player never knew in the first place. Finish by introducing every member of "your" band, except one. Get most of the names wrong just to be sure.

Charts: If you have one, leave it at home. If you accidentally bring it to the jam, make sure it is in the wrong key, and printed so small that the pianist needs an industrial strength magnifying glass.
Bonus points for having a chart with 5 or more pages, all sticky taped together so that it falls on the floor at the end of page 1.

Following the Form: Either choose a song with no form whatsoever, or if it has a form, ignore it entirely. Loads of laughs to be had from seeing the band work that one out. Bonus points for altering the arrangement, in pencil, telling half the band, and then ignoring that too.

Tempo: You set the beat by counting in the song:- One..., Two..., One-Two-Three-Four. Come in on five, or seven, or when you feel like it . Bonus points if your chosen piece is in three/four time.

Rhythm: Avoid this altogether. It is just a silly convention amongst musos. Your song will sound much better if you add (or subtract) a few beats from the occasional bar. Keeps the band on their toes, and they will appreciate that.

Follow these rules and your performance will be truly unforgettable, and in the band's case, unforgiveable. They will welcome you back time and time again, for sure. Actually, that is about as likely as Django Reinhardt ordering more than three beers.

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