There is a new jam in town. It’s taking place at the recently re-opened Pauly’s Hotel in Albany at 7pm on Sundays.
Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be big news, because we have regional rock jams, blues jams and open mic nights galore, on just about any night of the week.
But this is different. This is jazz. This is swinging cats playing everything from bebop standards to experimenting with new sounds and trying out freshly penned originals.
Last Sunday, three sax players showed up, and a couple weeks back there were four. Trumpeters, pianists and jazz guitarists have all showed up to play. Play, yes, play everything from Miles to Benny Golson!
Listening to the music, the word that best describes the change in the vibe is “spontaneous,” a wonderful spontaneous happening, if you know what I mean – when a group of players who haven’t played with each other get up and decide on a piece of music and get into it. And then, all of a sudden, they’re swinging; the groove is in the pocket; and they’re trading riffs and showing off their skills. The instruments seem hot in their hands. The room gets electric, and suddenly the whole crowd is grinning from ear to ear. They can’t help themselves.
A jam is a wonderful thing. It helps professional musicians hone their craft, and helps students to develop their skills – especially in jazz, where freedom and spontaneity are key components of the interaction between the musicians. The jam session affords the opportunity to learn and create something with others, so that the whole work is something far more than the sum of its parts. In other words, something uniquely wonderful.
The hosts are all seasoned players who are willing to give of their time to help other musicians grow. This is, I think, is a critical piece of music education that college students, high school kids and aspiring jazz singers like myself need, and so often have no chance to get.
The ability to try communicating musically and to interact with other musicians in a friendly environment can be intimidating when you to take that first step up onto the stage. That first step may really be the hardest until you become one of “the guys” you’re playing with.
And, man, it’s fun!
To me, a jazz jam has been the missing link in the connections of this tight and close-knit jazz community in the Capital District. It’s a bold move, but our intrepid jazz drummer Joe Barna initiated the project and recognized the need for it.
The jazz jam at Pauly’s Hotel is now hosted by saxophonist Dave Fisk, bassist Lou Smaldone and drummer Andy Hearn.
And this dedication reminds me of another bold young man – Brian Patneaude, who nine years ago decided that the jazz community needed it’s own web-site, Albanyjazz.com, to share information and communication about the events of the regional world of jazz with everyone from the fans to the musicians themselves. Thank goodness for young musicians like Brian with the vision and drive to promote jazz!
At Pauly’s jams, anybody who likes good music will enjoy sitting back and listening to those sublime moments: all happening live and creating an environment where everyone in the room is riding on the intoxicating waves of jazz sounds.
There is no cover charge, and Pauly’s weekly Sunday night jazz jam is really a worthwhile effort to keep the music alive and well for our community’s future generations.
Story by Valerie Medeiros
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk