Last year, Gus Butcher and a few other local musicians were chatting with Arts on the Ave’s Christy Morin, and an idea was hatched: Why not create a night where musicians can get together and play?
Like any good improvisor, Butcher and his friends ran with the idea. In June, they put together the first Jazz Jams night at The Carrot Coffeehouse. It’s a concert and jam for musicians who are looking for a group of experienced players to jam with.
August’s Jazz Jam takes place on Aug. 1 at The Carrot Coffeehouse, and Butcher hopes people come, whether as a musician or an audience member. As the event grows, he said he hopes enough players will develop a habit to move to a biweekly or weekly jam.
“Each night, we’ll have a house band of local jazz musicians. They’ll play a 45 or 50 minute set to give people a taste of their music,” said Butcher. The house band plays at 7 pm, while the jam starts an hour later.
Butcher, who has been playing guitar since he was in Grade 4, caught the bug from his high school band teacher. Now in his fourth year in MacEwan University’s music program and active in Edmonton’s jazz scene, he has a deep pool of talent to draw from.
“The last time it was Fred Mack Quartet. He’s an up-and-coming saxophone player, and he’s played at Jazz Fest and around the city. There’ll be a different band every month,” he said. But in spite of the pros on stage, he encourages musicians of all skill levels to bring their instruments and try it out.
“People can come put their name, instrument and skill level—amateur, professional, semi-pro. The house band sorts the bands out so people won’t feel intimidated,” said Butcher.
The jams will lean towards standards, and newcomers who don’t have a huge repertoire are free to bring in books or sheet music for guidance.
“At a lot of jams, people sometimes get ‘vibed out’ or nervous. My first time, I was so scared, but I didn’t get hurt. But you’ll never experience the fun of it and be able to connect with other musicians until you try. Honestly, the best thing a musician can do is to jam and hear others play and interact with them.”
First Tuesday of every month
The Carrot Coffeehouse (9351 118 Ave)
Featured Image: Musicians of any skill level can jam with an experienced house band. | Supplied