On December 2nd, I attended the “Jingle Jazz Jam” from 8pm-10pm, and I was surprised by how different this jam session was from the other jazz jam that I went to at the Firehouse Stage. This performance was much more intimate and energetic than the last performance, and I found that this venue had a younger crowd although there were also people of all age groups, making up an audience of about 40-50 people. The musicians kept changing throughout the performance because the jam session was open to anyone; however, there were a couple of musicians that played several songs, like Gene Cothran who played the piano, Michael Carbone on the tenor sax, and a bass player, drummer and guitarist. There were also a couple of people from Binghamton University who played, which were Stephi and Adam on the sax, Eli Jacobson on the drums and Patrick on the piano. Every musician seemed to be very skilled on his or her instrument, and I also noticed that they all seemed to take part in a lot of unspoken communication. Just a simple nod or gesture between the musicians seemed to have a deeper meaning in terms of what to do next. It was also great to see looks of approval between the musicians and to hear them cheering each other on. All of this contributed to a light and playful feeling, making for a great performance.
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The song “Alone Together” by Arthur Schwartz featured the sax for most of the piece, and really showcased his talent on the instrument. The sax seemed to be trying to create a smooth romantic sound, and although he tried to keep his sound slow and laid back, he wasn’t afraid to build up the tension and drop it again rapidly to create a dramatic effect. Behind the sax, the bass played a walking bass line and kept up the tempo with he help of the piano and drums. The piano and drums seemed to be very in sync in this piece, because the drums did a great job feeding off of the rhythms of the piano and playing well-timed fills to amplify the power of the piano. All of the rhythms in this song had heavy syncopation, which could be heard on every instrument, especially the sax who took advantage of playing on the off beats to make for a catchy solo that made people want to snap their fingers and dance along to the tune. The form of this tune was an AABA 32 bar blues, with a slower mellow and romantic feeling than the other songs from the concert, probably due to the fact that this song didn’t have the same complex and fancy rhythms that the high-energy songs had. The melody took advantage of lower notes, which gave a rich and smooth sound, which was supported by the harmonies played by the rest of the band. This tune was a nice piece to slow down the concert with and contributed to the mellow intimate feeling of the venue.
The band also played one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, which was originally written by Frank Loesser. The melody of this song is originally between a man and woman, but instead the band replicated the vocals using two alto sax players engaging in a series of call and response. The two players were very in sync and did a great job of coordinating and feeding off of each other to come in at the right time and created a performance that was perfectly in sync. The powerful tone of their instruments created a constant rise and fall of tension during the call and response, and there were some instances when the two saxes played together and the pitches and sound of the instrument combined to create an amplified and powerful sound. The drummer did a good job of slowing down and speeding up the tempo when the song called for it and the rest of the band managed to adjust accordingly, which was very impressive. The form of tune was AAB 12 bar blues, with the melody relying heavily on perfectly executed rhythms, which was crucial for the call and response, since the second sax needed to come in at the right time to make sure that they didn’t cut off the preceding sax too early, and to make sure that they didn’t come in too late. The musicians did a great job with this tune, and they managed to add a swing feel to one of my favorite Christmas classics.
One of the final songs of the performance was a piece entitled “Blue Christmas” by Billy Hayes and Jay Johnson. This song was different from the rest, in that it was under the genre of country shuffle, so it still had some swing to it, but it also had a slight rock and roll vibe. The bass in this song was very distinct and he even used the “slap bass” technique when he was playing. Although this song wasn’t necessarily slow, it still had a mellow and soulful vibe. The piano solo seemed to demonstrate this with a style of playing that told a story and had a sense of yearning to it. The groove of the song was characterized by the rise and falls in tensions that were held out in long phrases. Even though the beat was on two and four, the syncopation felt different in this tune, probably due to the fact that it was more of a county shuffle. The melody was a lot slower; nevertheless, it was still very powerful because of the long phrases and lower notes that were combined with the loud dynamics. The saxes did a great job of harmonizing together, to create a rich sound. The form of this tune was 32 bar AABA, and it was definitely a great song to wind down the concert with and end the night.
The jam session was definitely more of my taste than the performance at the Firehouse Stage because not only did I enjoy the familiar Christmas tunes, but also the small intimate space of this venue allowed everyone to be closer to the music and feel the vibes that the musicians were sharing. I loved the fact that a lot of these tunes added the swing feeling to my favorite Christmas tunes, and I felt like it really helped me to appreciate jazz more by hearing it mixed in with the familiar Christmas pop tunes. I can definitely see myself coming back to the Lost Dog for future performances, and I’m happy that I was able to get this wonderful experience to listen to and experience a live jazz performance.
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