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JazzWorks Jam is a jam

JazzWorks jam coordinator Peter Liu announces the next group to a jam of listeners and players at the Carleton Tavern. ©Brett Delmage, 2010

It was a real jam at the JazzWorks jam on September 16, as a record number of listeners and players showed up to the first jazz jam of the 2010-11 season.

"It's amazing! It's the most people I've ever seen at any of the jams  for probably at least the last three years," said jam coordinator Peter Liu. "Last count I heard was 65 people and still people were coming in."

Liu started the evening with a 45-minute set of vocal standards with his Jazz Mutants, and then opened the stage. After a few combos, he had to limit each combo to one song rather than two in order to allow everyone to play.

"It's a busy night, great energy. We've got a whole bunch of young people, people I haven't seen in a really long time, people all excited from jazz camp who want to get out and reconnect – and some new faces, which is fantastic!"

The evening attracted a wide range of musicians, including professionals like Tom Denison and Scott Poll, as well as a table of high-school students.There was even one saxophonist visiting from France.

Liu attributed the turnout to a number of factors: the summer break from the jams leaving people "itching to play again", people getting "pumped" by the summer jazz camps, and the effort he had made to spread the word in many places about the jams. He is trying to "broaden the base" of people who attend the jams.

He said he hoped the younger musicians would keep coming out, "because they are phenomenal. They just played, and I am still amazed and totally thrilled and inspired by such talent in people who are still so young."

A group of high school students, including Lucas and Emily Denison, will be the host band for October's jam.

Liu said he was feeling extremely optimistic for the rest of the year. "I want to keep this level of energy up." If it stays really popular, he said, JazzWorks might even be able to run the jams more frequently, "because there are a lot of people in our community who want to play."

Emily Denison plays a solo, with brother Lucas on the drums and her father Tom on the bass. ©Brett Delmage, 2010