The term "jam session" has become a household word recently, and as such has been kicked around quite improperly, to such an extent, in fact, that many people have a completely wrong idea of what a jam session really is. The popular conception, of course, has come out of Hollywood, the birthplace of so many other cultural miscarriages. Therefore, you too, will know where to lay the blame if you think a jam session is something bordering on a Bacchanalian orgy, complete with Goldwyn girls, Martha Raye and her face, and Artie Shaw tooting on his instrument. That's all very well and good, but it's far from the right idea.
I won't try to define the term. If you want to be fancy and throw in references to "collective improvisation rhythmically integrated," you're a better man than I am. However, I think it's safe to say that at a jam session you're liable to hear a much finer brand of jazz music than you would anywhere else. In the first place, the whole thing is completely informal. A few musicians get together and do their best to play what they think is good jazz music. And they generally have the right idea, often inspired by no end of liquid refreshment. Then, of course, everybody's playing for his own fun, and all commercial inhibitions are checked with the hats. Which means that you don't have to stop playing a tune after two or three choruses. You can build it up, and play around it, and do things to that tune which would make even the composer open his eyes. In other words, there are a lot of kicks at a jam session. You hear music you won't hear anywhere else, and it's not long before you discover that the musicians aren't the only once in the place who are having a fine time.
For the past month or so, a young newspaperman by the name of Art Walsh has been running Sunday afternoon sessions at the Crown Hotel in Providence. Most of the musicians who play there are local boys, who, although they're unknown outside of Providence, are going places in a hurry. Jazz artists just can't be as good as some of these boys and stay unknown long. Other musicians are beginning to hear about them already. For example, Will Bradley dropped in last Sunday and was tremendously impressed with the music. Then, of course, there are always one or two guests sitting in, and they have included Bobby Hackett, Coleman Hawkins, Lips Page, Pec Wee Russell, Joe Sullivan, and Sidney Catlett. All of these musicians have nothing but the best to say for their less famous colleagues. Furthermore, a number of critics have been pricking up their ears recently. George Frazier drives down from Boston, and George Avakian makes the trek from New York. Really, this is something very special, and you'll be letting yourself in for plenty of fine swing music if you get in on the ground floor. Muggsy Spanier will be there this Sunday--he's worth driving to Chicago to hear.
NEWS AND NEW RELEASES. Bobby Hackett, Brad Gowans, and Lead Belly, the great Negro singer with a questionable past, will be featured at a dance at Cantabridgia Hall tonight. This is a swell opportunity to hear Bobby in an atmosphere more congenial to him than what the Versailles has to offer... DECCA has just released an album entitled "Gems of Jazz." It consists of a number of records made in this country several years ago for release in England. Consequently, most of them will be quite welcome to collectors now. Included in the album are two of Mildred Bailey's best couplings: Honeysuckle Rose and Willow Tree, Squeeze Me and Downhearted Blues. These four sides feature Bunny Berigan, Johnny Hodges, and Teddy Wilson.