On Saturday mornings, the New Mexico Jazz Workshop jam is in order.
Open cases are spread on the floor, Real Books rest on stands,metal folding chairs have been unfolded, coffee is okay outside the rehearsal room, guitarists plug in amps, sax players suck on reeds, trumpets move their fingers over three keys and look to the Gods for good chops.
We sit in a big circle and any person can call a tune out that they want the group to play.
” Satin Doll, ” : Maiden Voyage, ” : Stella by Starlight, ” Out of Nowhere, ” ” Blue Bossa, ” ” I Remember April, ” are some of the standards. Some tunes we can play well, some we can play, some we just pretend. Some of us have practiced, some haven’t. Some play for fun, others have axes to grind. After playing the head twice, the caller of the tune solos first and then the spotlight moves to the next person around the circle, sometimes clockwise, sometimes counterclockwise. After everyone solos that wants to, the group plays the head twice and we wrap the tune up with a long fermata.
In the kitchen area of the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, by the frig and coffee maker, hangs a distinctive framed pencil drawing.
Jazz is about feeling but feeling doesn’t push the keys, blow air across a reed to make sound, provide air support to keep a true tone.
Feeling is huge, but, without chops, it isn’t going far.