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Friday, July 07, 2006

Jazz Festival Jam Sessions

I've been meaning for the entire time that I've been here to get to the Jam Sessions at 11pm at the Hyatt. One challenge is that only "Friends of the Festival" (those "select few" who have purchased the CA$12 compilation CD with "La Carte Des Amis du Festival 2006" inside, which CD is offered at essentially every non-liquor cash register inside the festival area, several of the liquor ones and many places outside also) can enter, which has meant that it's not a practical place to go with a group of friends who are not going out of their way to take in the Jazz Festival.

Last night I was on my own, so at a bit after 11pm I headed down. Well, wow! The "house band" this year is the John Roney Trio. They played their first set and then, before taking a break, invited any musicians in the audience who'd like to jam with them to come and talk to them. During the break I was joined by two gentlemen from North Carolina: Mike (a professor of nuclear engineering) and Tim (a programmer at SAS Institute). They were drinking double Wild Turkeys faster than I could get through single Cointreaus and, because I'd secured a table, insisted upon buying my drinks for me. The session went on until 3am and, needless to say, I'm feeling a little under the weather this morning :-)

From the second set onwards, there was a procession of musicians, none of whom I know by name (I enjoy listening to jazz but, as yet, know little about it) but a few of whom, I learned from Mike and Tim, were rather well known. Apparently this is the norm; one year [members of] the Buena Vista Social Club joined a session; it's that kind of event. Remarkably, or not, there was very little evidence that these were performers who typically met on stage 30 seconds before beginning to play; the performances were tight and made for a great backdrop for a lengthy discussion about jazz, food, software, economics and I forget what else.

I look forward to doing this again.