And here’s another. This was just from 2 nights ago at the Stanford Coffee House. They do weekly jam sessions for anyone who wants to show up and play.
Concert Review 2 for a Coho jam session
Tonight, I went to the Coho to listen to the jam session for awhile. As usual, they had a core of a drummer, bassist, and piano to start performing and to ensure that any horns had someone to back them up. I actually hadn’t been to a jam session since the summer, and I was curious whether the regulars were as good as the players in for the summer jazz workshop.
I sat off to the right of the stage, so I couldn’t see or hear the bass player so well, but otherwise, everything sounded fine. The rhythm trio started with “All the Things You Are,” which I have a Dizzy Gillespie recording of. The piano stated the theme, then went into a solo. The playing was mostly consonant, which seemed to sound the best because the song sounds like a vocal piece. It was followed with a bass solo, which I couldn’t hear so well. It sounded good, except when the piano started to lightly comp, I felt like either the pianist or the bassist was lost, but it ended smoothly enough.
On the third song, they introduced a vocalist and trumpet player. Thanks to the words, I determined that the song was “Blue Skies.” The vocalist had a decent jazz voice, but not a particularly good range. Admittedly, I tend to prefer instrumentalists over vocalists, but I also found his solo unimaginative and perhaps too close to the melody to be interesting. I was very pleased with the trumpet player, though, who played an equally lyrical, low, slow solo. Barring the dramatic difference in style, his timbre reminded me of Louie Armstrong, which I can certainly enjoy.
The fourth song started with a piano intro on top of a bossa nova beat from the bass. The same trumpet stayed on to play the head, though the rest of the rhythm section switched out. Until this point, I guess I hadn’t noticed the rhythm section too much, but I could tell the bass and drums weren’t too familiar with each other. While the ensemble managed to stay together fine, I found myself paying attention to the rhythm section for the wrong reasons and was surprised by them at the wrong times. While the bass player did fine staying with the simple bossa nova beat, I’m thinking maybe the drum player wasn’t so comfortable with it.
The fifth piece introduced another sax to a total of the 3 horns. The tenor sax took the lead, and I could immediately tell it was bebop. The theme was relatively simple, and the tenor immediately began his solo. The walking bass behind him helped to keep the tempo moving as the tenor slowed down slightly through the faster licks. The trumpet player managed to surprise me again by playing a blistering solo, so I was suitably impressed by him at this point. The final head was played in unison by the tenor and trumpet, and they had clearly planned some sort of coda. Unfortunately, I think they forgot to inform the pianist, which ended up as a mess of half-endings, trailing sounds, and maybe even shave and a haircut.
I think I was most impressed by how quickly the players matched each other. I’m assuming that on most of the studio albums and other live concerts I’ve heard, the players have had the chance to at least run the tune once before to know what to expect. The interaction was absolutely live, with a lot of eye contact and talking during the set. I’m assuming the songs were mostly standards even if I hadn’t heard them some of them before, but I still enjoyed hearing the clearly fresh sounds of unfamiliar groups of players.