Friday Night Jam is a kind of anecdotal, instructional how-to (and sometimes painful how-not-to) guide to group improvisation, based on the firsthand learning experiences of author and African drummer Nowick Gray in a weekly open jam in rural British Columbia, in the early 1990s. African drumming was booming in popularity then but not well integrated into conventional Western music mixes. This chronicle conveys the challenge of merging diverse musical instruments, genres and personalities; of attempting to produce quality music in a venue that welcomes relative beginners, lifelong amateurs, and random drop-ins for the night.
Notes from an improvisational performance with drums & bass . . .
Thuja jam, Winter Solstice 2007, White Eagle Hall, Victoria, BC
Steven Fosker on guitar never showed up because he was sick, so that left Bernie on bass, Eugene on kit, Amy on keyboard and me on hand drums and percussion to wing it somehow. We did a sound check with reasonable coherence but then it came time to perform, and Bernie got into the primal cat beats and we just took off, there was no holding back, only Amy kind of got left in the funk-dust, as we churned and motored and yanged our way out and down and around and back, loud and fast and changing grooves and yet, people were dancing somehow, it was after all as funky as we could manage, just grunge-dirty, progressive punk, or regressive garage, or egregious jazz, or something like ocean-surf rock n roll, not beach boys style but when the undertow grabs you and the breakers pound you and hang you out to dry. It was another dimension, like the first time on psychedelics, or falling head over heels into passionate love/sex, no bearings, no looking back, just holding on for the ride and going with it, and afterwards, for days and nights, gasping, What Happened?