By Howard Landsman
Thanks to an $8,000 grant from the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation and some excellent fundraising by its board, Madison Jazz Jam will be expanding this Fall to twice-monthly sessions. Always on Sundays, from 4:00-7:00 PM, these sessions will now alternate between two host restaurant sites, continuing at Liliana’s on the West Side and adding Talula on the East Side.
Now entering its second year, Madison Jazz Jam (MJJ) conducts jam sessions for improvisers of all ages and talent levels, as well as for appreciators who want to learn more about how an improviser crafts a solo or who just want to hear some good music. Each session features two 75-minute sets in which emerging amateur musicians perform with a “house band” of experienced local professionals (including a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums). At Liliana’s, the sessions are led by alto saxophonist and Edgewood College Jazz Studies Director Dan Wallach while trumpeter and UW Jazz Orchestra Conductor Jim Doherty is joining the MJJ team to lead the sessions at Talula. All MJJ sessions are free to participating musicians and audience members alike.
While the format will vary somewhat between East and West Side sites, each session’s first set is targeted to newer improvisers, e.g., middle and high school-age kids and other less experienced musicians, and has an educational component in which participants get gentle, constructive feedback from Messrs. Wallach or Doherty, who choose most of the music to be performed. To allow for practice beforehand, chord charts, practice hints, and other support materials are posted on the MJJ website well in advance of the next session.
The second MJJ set is targeted to more advanced emerging musicians and follows a traditional jam session format, with participants selecting the songs and each musician getting a chance to solo.
Members of the MJJ house band rotate from session to session, with several well-known local players having signed on as part of the coming year’s pool, e.g., pianists Paul Hastil and Michael Butkus-Boomier, bassists John Christensen and Nick Moran, and drummers Rand Moore and Michael Brenneis.
The next MJJ sessions are this Sunday, September 18th at Liliana’s, and October 9th at Talula. Liliana’s is located at 2951 Triverton Pike, just west of Fish Hatchery Road off of Highway PD (McKee Road) in Fitchburg. Talula is located at 802 Atlas Avenue, just east of Highway 51 and Cottage Grove Road.
For more information about Madison Jazz Jam, including the complete Fall 2011 schedule, visit http://madisonjazzjam.org// or contact MJJ Coordinator Bob Kerwin at madisonjazzjam AT gmail DOT com.