What JAM stands for - Jazz Appreciation Month (2)
Jam and jazz
As introduced in my previous post, April is Jazz Appreciation Month, abbreviated to JAM - such an appropriate term to refer to jazz music. In the world of jazz and maybe in flamenco too, we often enjoy spontaneous jam sessions, or free-flow sessions, more than thoroughly rehearsed performances.
The culture of jamming came about from jazz musicians in the 1920s, but the concept has also been familiar in flamenco, especially in a fiesta setting which involves improvisation. In whatever genres of music, individual performers need to have a certain level of musical expertise in order to participate in such a jam session; jamming isn’t for creating a traffic jam but for driving through a co-produced flow of soundscape.
To imagine what would be an ideal jam session, I’d like to share a clip of jazz and flamenco artists playing about with the music of The Rolling Stones.
Rolling about jazzy-flamenco
As most of us know, The Rolling Stones isn’t a jazz band, but their bluesy rock music inspired an American saxophonist and composer Tim Ries, who is also a renowned jazz musician and educator. He has toured with the band since 2003 as a backing musician and developed a relationship with them as well as knowledge about their songs. He rearranged some of the Stones’ signature tunes in jazz, and released two albums under the title of The Rolling Stones Project in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
In the 2nd volume, he invited flamenco artists to perform ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ in flamenco-jazz style. The session features the dancer Sara Baras who added percussive footwork to the sophisticated version of this song. According to Ries, it’s one-take, although the flamenco part and jazz part must have been pre-talked between the musicians.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones
Tim Ries & Rolling Stones Project 2 - Sara Baras - Jumpin' Jack Flash
To drive through a jam session, the individual performers have to hold a good standard in their skills on their instruments, understand each other’s music styles, respect each other’s contributions, read the timing of switching parts, building up, calming down, etc. It’s more improvised than prepared, but a certain preparation and mutual assumption aren’t completely lacking.
Jamming is a communication itself, and it’s what we’ve been missing during lockdown. This Jazz Appreciation Month could be our good chance to appreciate its meaning.
The Rolling Stones Project