Jam session

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'58 was a good year for jam. Here is one of the original famed '58 session jars, empty but still a collector's item.

The jam session was created by the originator of Jazz Jelly Roll Morton as a means of disposing of the excess fruit growing on his summer ranch in California.


In the spring 1902, Jelly Roll roped in sidemen Ferdinand LeMothe and Artie Shaw to help him pick the strawberries and bananas growing at his ranch. With the fruit picked Jelly Roll called in two more of his sidemen, Sidney Bechet and up and coming trumpeter Gerry "Matt Groaning" Mulligan. Together the five friends compiled the fruit into jars of jam. The jam was an immediate success. The Blueberry Label quickly picked up on the Quintets jam and entered into a contract to commercially produce it. These original jam sessions dubbed: Jamming The Beet were number one on Sweden's National Jam Regatta Listings within a week. The original fame of these production sessions are considered by many Jazz condiment experts to be the origin of Jelly Roll Morton's name.

Alternative origin myths

Jazz Jelly Roll thinking about his next jelly roll.

Some Jazztorians argue that the above account, which comes directly from Jelly Roll, himself is a load of "Jive" or alternatively a bag of "Gage" or the "Bee's Elbows". Jelly Roll has been reporting as offering the following comments on these alligators:

“Them cats just ain't hep to the Jive, man, applesauce! Bunch of Jeffs, man.”

~ Jelly Roll Morton
For those without comedic tastes, the self-proclaimed experts at Wikipedia have an article about Jam session.

However, another common origin story is as follows:

“During the 1920s, it became common for white jazz musicians to congregate in wine bars and vegan cafes after big band rehearsal sessions. As most cafes in the Barking Twenties hired regular rhythm sections, big band musicians, instruments still in hand, would often sit in with house bands and try to guess the right notes to various jazz standards. Due to the high difficulty of this act it was often referred to as "A bit of a pickle". The term jam sessions as reference to a fellow preservative may have developed from this.”

~ John Steamwhistle (Famous Jazztorian)

Jazz scholar Jaco Pastafarian claims the phrase was invented by well known jazz vocalist Bill Cosby though exact details pertaining to this are unknown.

Acceptance into mainstream jazz culture

Miley Davis: Jammy.

In 1942, well-known Harry addict Miley Davis was invited to a jam session spearheaded by famous Marmalade producer Charlie Farker. Miley misinterpreting the intention of the gathering mistakenly brought her trumpet to the jam session so just for the sake of it Miley and others invited began to make music together. However as there was still jam to make the present musicians were required to keep their soloing on the short side so they could resume making jam in between so charts had to be faster to allow the musician more space to express them self in a shorter space of time. As a reference to the awful jams and honeys produced by Farker along with his famous marmalade Miley Suggested the term Bee Slop for their new fast paced improvisation based jazz. This later became abstracted into Be Bop.

Adoption by rock groups

Jam sessions were originally brought into a rock context by one of Miley Davis' side projects The Jam. Actually named after jam sessions themselves. Avid fans of the jam, Punk Floyd were quick to adopt jam sessions as a musical mainstay. During one 1962 tour in between performances of "Biting My Time" and "Power Toke" Richard Hell the keyboard player would abandon his organ and begin making jam while the other band members improvised around him. These popular segments caught on and became a common fixture of concerts during that period..

See also

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