WHAT’S A SLOW JAM?
IT’S ABOUT THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE
by Stuart Brotman, Berkeley 2016
ORGANIZE THE ROOM—OR NOT: e.g., by like instruments, melody players and accompanists, rhythm and/or harmony players.
OPEN YOUR EYES: Watch each other. Look for a sympathetic eye. Be willing to help and to look for help.
OPEN YOUR EARS: Feel free to move if you need to hear better.
HOW FAST: The group can decide whether to play at speeds that everyone (or most everyone) can learn at, or at the tempo of an authoritative recording or player. But you need both! Your muscles need to learn the ballistics of how it feels to move fast, i.e., fingering, bowing, picking, blowing, hitting, etc.
KNOW YOURSELF: Can you think of tunes while playing? Can you think ahead? Can you segue without stopping the dance? You may be a leader or a lead player. Are you a follower? Do you gravitate to melody, heterophony (melody with variations), antiphony (contrasting melody)? Are you an accompanist? Do you provide harmonization, or rhythm?
STRATEGIES: Suggest a tune. Start a tune, however bravely or timidly. Suggest types of tunes, or rhythms, keys, tempos, instrumentation, etc. Round Robin.
FAKING IT: Play along with as much of the melody as you can each time around. Don’t interrupt or hold back the group.
FALLBACK POSITIONS: Experiment with accompaniment figures, fills, counter-melodies. Try to develop them in collaboration with other people, learn from each other.