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Paul Van Ross jamming @ Bb jazz club Berlin

September 25. Berlin.

Getting around Berlin on a bicycle is easy. Today a new friend cycled with me to the forrest area on the west side of Berlin, an area that has been protected for decades. Its like a forrest on the edge of the city. Great view of the city, and a great spot for some parasailing & kite flying.

I’d heard about a jazz jam that happened on wednesday nights at Bb jazz club. So had decided to the bike, load up the sax on my back, brave the cold and rain and head down there.

People in Berlin must love going out because I could barely get in the door of the club due to the number of people there. The place was PUMPING!!! It literally took me a good 15 minutes to find my way to the seating area at the front. I estimate there were 150 people here.

Anyway, the house band played a set (sounding pretty good) then opened it up for a jam. I was surprised at the number of people wanting to jam, possibly 15 or so…trumpet, clarinet, guitars, vocals, alto sax, etc…

It’s a unique blend at a jam session. Often a mix of opposites…..players that have decades of experience and skill, and players with lack of experience and skill, but plenty of enthusiasm.

The first 5 or so tunes enabled the barrage of enthusiastic players to jam, a mixture of skill levels….mostly enthusiastic amateurs. Credit to the female vocalist who sang well.

I played later in the set on a blues & Beatrice. The pianist playing seemed to have a good ear for mimicking however a complete lack of taste for comping and soloing, often ignoring the changes completely….:( Hard work out the front as a soloist, glad to have a competent drummer and bassist on stage at this time. Drummer very responsive to my playing 🙂 thanks Derrick Scherzer.

Later in the 2nd set of jamming a working band took the stage (drums, bass, piano, trombone) and played “Afro Blue”. These guys sounded awesome. Energy level was doubled instantly, pianist was beautiful. Ahhhh, these guys had played together a lot, was a joy to listen to. (Got to chat later with them).

Anyway I have to mention etiquette. Why? Because while this amazing working group was performing, a younger enthusiastic clarinetist was also on stage wanting to play. Points for enthusiasm but not for etiquette or manners. He’d been on stage for the whole jam so far. Usually players will play 1 or 2 tunes and then depart, leaving opportunities for other soloists. This clarinettist had no concept of this common etiquette. I’d say that he was a classical clarinettist at his first jam session…..eager to play, with no idea about soloing, playing changes or etiquette. Staying on stage for most of the night, soloing without knowing the proper keys, soloing without knowing the changes, trying to solo (badly) over a professional working band…..is just not on! Every other player was playing 1 or 2 tunes and departing gracefully…..when in Rome do as the Romans do, eh??

Am fortunate that over my younger years I was taught about these things.
Hope that he can learn from others next time.

I played a little later in the jam also “Alone Together”, with a worthy female guitarist and rhythm section.

Had a great time, met some lovely people, cycled home at 1am.

Thanks to bass player Robin who organises the jam.

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