SFJAZZ.org | Jazz Jam Etiquette From The Masters

On The Corner Masthead


April 29, 2016 | by SFJAZZ Education

Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, and Max Roach, Three Deuces, New York, 1947 (William Gottlieb)

Jazz jams can be daunting, even to a seasoned professional. In honor of International Jazz Day, here's some wisdom from the masters, a help guide for your next session, whether it's your first, or 100th!

1. Prepare

“If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it.” — Louis Armstrong


2. Focus 

"Just because you're not a drummer, doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time." — Thelonious Monk


3. Play what you hear

"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything." — Chick Corea

"Play the note you know." — Antonio Carlos Jobim

"What you don’t play can be more important than what you do play." — Thelonious Monk

"It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play." — Dizzy Gillespie


4. Listen

"My first relationship to any kind of musical situation is as a listener." — Pat Matheny

"You can read all the textbooks and listen to all the records, but you have to play with musicians that are better than you." — Stan Getz


5. Have fun

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” — Charlie Parker




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