Reno Jazz Community Jam
For the Love of Jazz is very excited to present the new Reno Jazz Community Jam which is specifically designed to provide the opportunity for student musicians to play in a live setting with other players who are fluent in the “language” of jazz. Just as conversational immersion in a foreign language is integral to developing one’s speaking ability, so is immersion in high level jazz performance integral for students to develop an understanding of the jazz language. Each jam will be hosted by a professional level, UNR student rhythm section that is provided specifically for the purpose of teaching the language of jazz through live performance. Our goal is to help students improve their jazz vocabulary and improvisational skills, gain experience and confidence in small group musical interaction, and increase their enjoyment of playing live jazz.
Participation in the jam is free to students of all ages and abilities but is specifically targeted for high school and middle school students. While this event is free, as a non-profit organization, FTLOJ depends on memberships and donations to fund our community jazz education opportunities. Thank You For Your Support!
We are very grateful to Tim Healion, owner of Laughing Planet, for supporting our educational purpose by hosting the Reno Jazz Community Jam at Laughing Planet, 941 N. Virginia Street, Reno. This Laughing Planet location also hosts the weekly UNR Jazz Department Wednesday Night Jams, and many on-going UNR and FTLOJ sponsored small-group jazz concerts. Tim has been enthusiastically supportive of jazz education in Reno by creating this unique performance venue. The upstairs restaurant seating includes a dedicated stage area complete with a grand piano provided by the Department of Music at UNR. We encourage all to support Laughing Planet by enjoying the delicious and healthy food items on the menu.
For more information on concerts and on-going jazz events at Laughing Planet be sure to check the FTLOJ website events page and calendar.
We encourage all student musicians to play in the jam, however, just attending the jam is a wonderful listening experience for those who might not feel ready to step up and play a tune. It’s a great way to get an idea of what a jam session entails so you can come prepared to play next month! To participate, simply learn any jazz tune. At the jam, tell the house rhythm section what tune you wish to play. Once the tune to play is decided, the song will then be open to include others to play along as well. It is normal for players in the band to change from song to song.
Also, all rhythm players are welcome to jam! The house rhythm player will either take a break or maybe even switch to another instrument while you play your selected tune.
If you are not sure what to learn to play for the jam, below is a list of some easier, fun jazz standards that you can start with. The UNR student rhythm section will be able to play any tune you choose and will be there to help you along. Feel absolutely free to learn tunes outside of the listed repertoire as well.
So, learn a song, invite your friends, and come ready to jam!
Jazz Standards & Play-Along Videos
In this list, the "Example Video" links take you to historical and session recordings of the song titles. The "Play-Along" links take you to videos from the YouTube channel, Learn Jazz Standards.
- All Blues - Easy G Blues in 6/4 (can be felt in 3/4 also) by Miles Davis from his classic album “Kind of Blue.”
- Autumn Leaves - A classic standard that transitions between the relative major and minor.
- Blue Monk - A great blues written by Thelonious Monk.
- Blue Bossa - A jazz bossa nova by Kenny Dorham. Look out for a chromatic key center change.
- C-Jam Blues - An easy Blues melody by Duke Ellington. This is a great first jazz tune.
- Doxy - A simple, bluesy Bb tune over a 16 bar form by Sonny Rollins.
- Freddie Freeloader - A simple blues by Miles Davis.
- Mr. P.C. - Named for his bassist Paul Chambers, this is an easy minor blues in C minor by John Coltrane.
- St. Thomas - A nice easy Latin tune in the key of C by Sonny Rollins.
- Summertime - A classic by Gershwin, the tune moves between the relative major and minor key centers.
- There Is No Greater Love - This is a not too difficult, swinging standard; a lot of fun to play on.
- Watermelon Man - A straight 8th note 16 bar blues by Herbie Hancock.
- Work Song - A bluesy 16 bar tune by Nat Adderley in F minor.
- What Is This Thing Called Love - By Cole Porter, this standard is a bit more challenging, but very fun to play.
The play-along videos from this list were compiled from an extensive collection of resources at learningjazzstandards.com, created and maintained by professional jazz musician Brent Vaarstra. Check out the recordings on this list and explore Vaarstra's excellent collection of tools for learning to play jazz.