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Jam Session Etiquette

A USER’S GUIDE TO JAZZ JAM SESSIONS

The concept of a jam session is simple: Musicians who may or may not have played together before get together to play songs they know. It is an unrehearsed situation, and every player has to be alert. Here are some tips to make your next jam session experience better for you and everyone else.

First, know the tunes. There are many fake books and lead sheets with basic standard songs, and it’s best to learn as many of these as possible, and in several keys. If you sit in on any session and don’t know the tune, you will most likely flub your turn in the sun and possibly incur the wrath of the other musicians. Know the melody, chord changes, and form. If you don’t know a tune they call out, and you can’t ask for a tune you do know, then DON’T PLAY.

Be able to play in the tempo they count off.

Don’t overplay, show off, or take too many choruses. Other people have to play too.

If you are in the rhythm section, your main job is to accompany the soloist. You are supposed to make that person sound better. It’s not the time to drown out the soloist, no matter how great you think you are playing.

If you are a horn player, don’t go off to the corner and noodle while other people are playing.

Elementary school taught us not to talk too much in class. Don’t play over someone else’s solo, or noodle in between tunes.

Be ready to go when it is your turn to play. Being wishy-washy about any approach will lead to musical mediocrity.

Don’t get visibly mad at other players, even if they sound like a pack of egrets in heat. Smile, don’t frown. Or at least keep a straight face.

If you plan to trade fours with the drummer, most seasoned players will know what is going on. You can also hold out four fingers and motion to the drummer. Hand motions work better than yelling over a tenor solo.

IF YOU ARE CALLING A TUNE

Call a song that everybody knows. If you have a chart, that is fine, but it’s best to call fairly well-known standard songs. Just because you know a tune doesn’t mean everyone else does.

Pay attention to what types of tunes were played before you. You don’t want to play a tune just like the previous one, much less a tune that has already been played.

Stay away from long ballads. Time is of the essence. Slow songs last longer, and if you have several horn players, they will want to play, and then you have a twenty-minute ballad that drags on. Ballads are fine if there are only one or two soloists.

Know your keys. This is especially important for a singer. Nothing frustrates musicians more that a lackadaisical singer with no idea what key he or she sings in.

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Chapter 15- The End.

                                                            XV

 

They trudged back to the van, where Titus leaned on the side door, minding his ankle. Ferris and several officers forced the van’s back door open, and found the trunk and several duffel bags filled with cash, documents, and various electronics. Another cop appeared from the woods, dragging another dirt-covered trunk, and holding a shovel in his gloved hand.

‘Clever,’ he said. ‘She must have had the shovel with her, along with a couple of planks. The pit wasn’t very deep, but she covered it up with the planks and some leaves.’

‘She must’ve told Phil about the location at the hospital,’ Frank said. ‘She had to be prepared for an emergency.’ An ambulance arrived and the Hardleys directed the EMTs to the path and ravine where Phil’s body lay.

‘Oh, that reminds me,’ Ferris said. ‘ Lisa, er, Renee, whatever the hell her name is, didn’t make it. She died about five minutes after you left. Stupid bitch.’

‘She got what she deserved,’ Titus said. ‘Although I would have liked to put a few rounds in her.’

‘You and Pepe, too,’ Joe added.

The ambulance crew returned empty-handed. ‘Sorry, Chief,’ one of them said. ‘It’s dark as fuck in there. We can’t see anything.’

‘Ah, well, fuck it,’ Ferris said. ‘ Let the critters get him. We can clean him up in the morning. The Hardleys helped Titus into their car, and hid the Rage in the forest. ‘We’ll pick you up tomorrow,’ Frank said. ‘There’s no way you could ride on that ankle.’

Ferris waived them goodbye and helped the officers fill up the paddy wagon with the stolen loot.  He pulled a small pipe out of his jacket pocket and took a hit of weed that he had confiscated in a drug raid. He offered the pipe to his cohorts.

‘Time to celebrate, fellas,’ he said after exhaling. ‘I’m glad that shit’s over.’

 

 

                                             **************

 

The next day, Frank and Joe took their girlfriends to the beach. They were exhausted from the previous night’s adventure, but the salt air and prospect of serious fucking roused their spirits. The girls were quizzical and excited.

‘Is Titus O.K.? ‘ Lorraine asked.

‘Oh yeah,’ Joe replied. ‘Skip picked him up and drove him to the Rage. A little ice on the ankle, and he’s cool.’

‘Won’t you get in trouble for shooting at those creeps?’ Debbie asked.

‘It was self-defense,’ Frank said proudly. ‘They each shot first. Dad’s clearing it all up. We’ll just have to sign something tomorrow.’

‘Ooh!’ the girls cooed in unison.

‘Wait,’ Lorraine asked. ‘What happened to Pepe?’

Joe pointed back to his SUV. ‘Look in there,’ he said, smiling.

The girls ran to the SUV and opened the back door. Pepe lay passed out across the back seat with a puddle of vomit on the floor.

‘Aww!’ the girls chimed.

‘Some things never change,’ Frank said.

Joe raised his right arm. ‘High five!’ he yelled, as the Hardley palms smacked together.

 

Where the fuck is Chapter 14? Oh- here……

XIV

 

Once they neared the accident site Frank and Titus switched off their respective engines and headlights and coasted to the side of the road.

‘Fuck,’ Joe whispered. ‘We don’t have a flashlight.’

‘We won’t need one,’ Frank answered softly, pointing to a black van with its parking lights on. It was backed up into the woods. Titus followed them to the vehicle and motioned for the Hardleys to take the left side while he covered the right. They could hear someone dragging a heavy object and saw a faint light further down the path.

‘Guns,’ Titus mouthed, and he and Joe drew their .38s, while Frank pulled out a .22 Titus gave him.  The size of the gun angered Frank at the time. ‘Why do I get the short one? ‘ he had asked Titus at the Arsenal.

‘The girls call you Stubby, don’t they?’ Titus replied. Now Frank remembered his brother’s choked laughter. He held the gun with forced authority.

As they came around the van, they spied Phil pushing a trunk into the back of the van. He picked up his flashlight and shut the van door.

Titus jumped out, gun drawn. ‘ Hey fucko!’ he yelled. ‘Freeze!’

Phil reacted instantly. He already had his .45 ready, and fired towards Titus. The bullet barely missed and lodged itself in the van. Phil turned and sped down the path, turning off the flashlight.

‘ I got a bead on him!’ Frank yelled, and fired haphazardly. The bullet hit a branch that fell into the barely lit trail. Titus, running at full speed, tripped over it, and sailed into the bushes.

‘Motherfucker!’ he screamed. ‘My fuckin’ ankle!’

The Hardleys ran toward him, but he shooed them away. ‘Get that son-of-a-bitch!’ he yelled. They continued down the trail, but it only grew darker.

‘Hold it,’ Joe said. ‘Let’s listen for him. We can’t find him if we can’t see or hear him.’

They held their breaths and listened to the silent forest for almost a minute. Something crackled in the brush twenty yards ahead of them, and they could make out a dim figure running across the path.

‘Stop!’ Joe yelled. He fired into the brush. They heard a thud and a groan. Then Phil’s gun flared and a bullet embedded into a tree behind the Hardleys.

‘Shit!’ Frank yelled. ‘He’s off to the left!’

They tore through the thicket, ripping their skin and clothing. Suddenly the sky opened up before them, and the moon shone down on a clearing. Phil whirled around with his gun ready, but the moonlight lit his features while the Hardleys were partially cloaked in darkness.

Frank fired first, hitting his target in the abdomen. Phil screamed in pain, stumbled backwards, and disappeared.

‘Where’d he go?’ Joe yelled.

The rushed into the clearing, and fortunately screeched to a halt when they saw the cliff. Twenty feet down, Phil’s body lay in a crooked and unnatural position.

‘I don’t think he’s going anywhere anytime soon,’ Frank said, blowing on the sub-nosed barrel.

 

Chapters 12 and 13. Like you care.

 

                                                XII

 

The Hardleys, Skippy, and a loopy Pepe arrived at Bay City General Hospital first. The waiting room was empty save for a man in a black trench coat, who eyed them suspiciously from the corner.

“I hope he’s not a flasher,’ Pepe slurred, jerking his head toward the corner.

‘Probably not,’ Joe whispered back. ‘The elementary school’s out for summer.’

They waited for the rest of the group to appear, and soon the waiting room was filled with teenagers, cops, middle-aged men, and a humiliated stockbroker. Ferris Hardy spoke to the head nurse, and she took him and the two officers into another room. A few minutes later, Ferris returned to the waiting room and the cops followed the nurses to the emergency room.

‘She’s in surgery, and not exactly stable,’ Ferris said. ‘ Once she’s out and in a room and slightly conscious, we can talk to her. My officers are guarding her right now. I’m guessing we’ll be waiting for a while, so Sean, Skip, and Pepe, why don’t you go home and we’ll call you when we know anything. We could be here all night.’

They all agreed, and Frank and Sean exchanged phone numbers.

‘We’ll be in touch!’ Frank said, waving them goodbye.

‘Come on, fellas,’ Ferris said.’ Let’s hit the cafeteria. I’m sure the ambience is lovely, and dinner’s on me. Plus I brought my flask.’

‘Smooth move, Mr. H!’ Titus said as the walked down the stairs to the cafeteria. The man in the trench coat followed them down with his eyes.

 

 

                                                XIII

 

After a semi-satisfying but much-appreciated meal and several whisky shots apiece, the four men were in better spirits. Ferris leaned back in his chair just as an officer rushed in the room.

‘Oh there you are!’ the officer cried. ‘I’ve been trying to find you.  Renee, or- uh- Lisa- is awake and in Room thirteen.’

‘What do you mean?’ Frank asked. ‘Renee?  Lisa?’

‘She had two separate drivers licenses,’ the officer said. ‘We don’t know which one, if either, is real. And she’s not in great shape, so I didn’t want to quiz her. She might not have much time, the doc said. At least her brother got to see her.’

‘Her brother?’ Joe cried.

‘Goddamn it, Lopes,’ Ferris said angrily. ‘We were supposed to talk to her first, you inbred twat. Now her testimony could be compromised!’

‘Sorry, Chief,’ Lopes said sheepishly. ‘At least let me take you to her room.’

As they entered the waiting room, Joe spotted the trench coat man running out to the parking lot. ‘Hey!’ he shouted. ‘There goes that creepy guy!’

‘That’s Phil, the brother,’ Lopes said. ‘He seemed very upset. He said he wanted to call the rest of their family.’

‘That is, if he really is her brother,’ Titus said. ‘ And if his name is really Phil.’

‘Oh, and one more thing,’ Lopes said. ‘She isn’t really a redhead.’

‘What?’ Frank cried. ‘You peeked up her gown?’

‘That’s fuckin’ sick, dude,’ Titus grumbled.

‘No, no,’ Lopes said, grinning. ‘She wore a wig. A real nice one. The docs didn’t notice it until they checked the back of her head for wounds. They left it on.’

‘One more nail in the coffin of her alibi,’ Titus said. He closed his eyes and intoned ‘O Fortuna! Why have you forsaken my soul?’

‘Huh?’ Ferris said, confused.

‘It’s just his philosophy shit, Dad,’ Joe said. ‘It gets him focused in stressful situations.’ Titus drew deep breaths as they walked down the hall and into room thirteen. Lisa/Renee was propped up in her hospital bed, with an IV drip in her left arm and an oxygen tube under her nose. She was quite attractive, Joe noted to himself. Pepe will be bummed he missed this.

She opened her eyes, shimmering with hatred. ‘You!’ she croaked, pointing to Joe with her free arm.’ I should have killed you!

‘ Easy, Goldilocks,’ Titus said, looking at the pain medication dripping into her veins. ‘I want some of the shit she’s getting.’

‘What did you do with the stuff you stole?’ Ferris asked her angrily. ‘You probably don’t have much time. You might as well tell us.’

‘’We know what you did,’ Frank added. ‘ You stole our friend’s car. We’ve got the keys you left in it. You seduced Lucas and broke into the Murchison’s’ office. How did you know about the place and the passkey?’

She stirred in her bed. ‘That Wall street dickweed Sean-‘ she muttered. ‘ I could tell he was rich. Just needed to- get him drunk- ask questions…’ Her voice trailed off.

‘So you waited until everyone was asleep so you could clean out the office?’ Joe asked.

Renee nodded, coughing. Blood trickled from the side of her mouth.

‘Where is the stuff?’ Ferris pressed her.

‘Woods,’ she whispered. ‘ You’ll be-too late.’ Her head slumped and her heart monitor started beeping.

‘She’s crashing!’ Ferris yelled. ‘Get the nurses!’

Lopes ran out in the hallway, calling for help. Seconds later, a team of medics appeared with a crash cart. Titus and the Hardleys jumped into the hallway to get out of their way. Ferris followed them as the team began CPR.

‘Dad,’ Frank said. ‘We’ll go search the woods. The stuff has to be near the crash site.’

‘Hopefully we’ll get there before this Phil bastard gets away.’ Joe said. ‘And don’t send the cops right away. We don’t want to scare him off. Or get him to start shooting.

‘Smart, Joe.’ Ferris said. ‘I’ll stay here and monitor our little friend.’

A minute later, the trio was on the road, hoping to find Trench Coat Phil.

 

Hardleys Chapter XI

 

                                                            XI

 

Frank barely had time to duck away from the bullets as they ricocheted off the side of the station. Joe and Titus each fired off two shots as they fell to the ground, knocking out a light bulb and a garbage can. But one bullet hit their target as she squeezed off another shot that spiraled off toward the empty parking lot.  The redhead fell to the ground, clutching her shoulder. Blood started to seep down the concrete. The two policemen jumped out of their car and sprinted over to the fallen woman, their guns drawn. One approached the prostrate Lisa, while the other called for an ambulance.

‘She’s got a pulse,’ the first cop said, feeling her wrist.  ‘But she’s barely breathing.’

Two more patrol cars pulled up, followed up by an ambulance. Sirens and flashing lights pierced the early evening light. Ferris Hardy pulled up in an unmarked police car as the rescue team loaded Lisa into the ambulance. He approached the group. They were obviously shaken.

‘You fellas O.K.? ‘ Ferris asked in a worried tone.

‘Yeah,’ Frank muttered. ‘Better than her,’ he added, pointing to the ambulance.

‘We’ll take care of the cleanup,’ Ferris said. ‘ But we’ll obviously need you all down at the station later for questioning. Standard procedure and all. But meanwhile, you can tell me what happened.’

All eyes fell on Joe. Fuckin’ hell, he thought. Not again. He proceeded to lay out the events from the Murchison’s to the station. Skippy caressed his car while Titus and Pepe each popped a Xanax.  Sean stared at the victim as she was loaded in the ambulance and taken to the hospital.

‘Damn, he said. ‘I know her. But her isn’t, or wasn’t, Lisa.’

‘ Huh?’ Frank said.

‘Call the Macmillans and Lorne,’ Ferris continued. ‘We’ll need them to meet us down at the hospital. Then we need to find the loot and Lorne’s keys.’

‘No need for the keys,’ Skippy cried. ‘ Got ‘em right here.’ He jangled a full keychain with a pass card attached to it.

‘Damn,’ Sean said again.

‘What’s that, Sean? ‘ Joe asked.

‘I partied with her last week. We got pretty trashed, and then she gave me a blowjob in the Havana Bar’s men’s room.’

‘So Lucas isn’t the only lucky one!’ Pepe cried.

‘Yeah,’ Sean replied.’ Only now that I think about it, maybe I was talking too much. I told her about our estate and the set-up. Fuck. I’m an idiot.’

‘At least you got a hummer,’ Titus said.

 

 

It’s not over yet- Chapter X

                                                            X

 

They all spent the better part of an hour searching the caretaker’s house. They found empty liquor bottles, dirty dishes, and some of Lucas’ porn magazines, but no keys or pass card.

‘Well, it sure looks like the bitch took them,’ Pepe said, surreptitiously sliding a porno mag under his shirt. ‘Now what?’

Chopin ‘s Funeral March started playing from Frank’s pocket. He fished his phone out and said, ‘ Damn. It’s dad. I’ve gotta change this ring tone.’

‘What’s the ring like for Fatty Patty’s Den of Sin?’ Skippy asked with a grin.

‘Fuck off,’ Frank said after he answered the phone. ‘Oh- sorry dad. That was for Skip.’

‘Your pinkstripe friend might be a little happier now,’ Ferris Hardley said. ‘His car was just spotted seconds ago heading south on Gault Road, along the railroad tracks.’

‘Maybe she plans to ditch the car and hop a train!’ Frank shouted, hanging up on his father. ‘She’s headed to the train station! Let’s go!’

The Macmillans stayed behind to wait for Lorne Murchison to wake up, while Sean and Titus followed the Beamer down Gault Road at breakneck speed. Titus and Joe had their guns ready while Pepe had some difficulty choosing a weapon in his Xanax-addled state. There was no sign of the Pinkmobile on the road, and the station’s parking lot was nearly empty, except for a police car waiting by the side of the road.

Skippy took out his PDA and looked up the train timetable. ‘The next train for New York arrives at 5:42. That’s in three minutes!’

Frank slowed down to not disturb the cops. The caravan pulled into the parking lot by the station, and they all ran behind the station, and watched the parking lot.

‘Maybe we were wrong,’ Joe said. ‘ She would have been here by now.’

They heard a faint rumble, and the train appeared up the tracks seconds later, slowing down to enter the station.

The squealing of tires instantly interrupted their fixation on the train. Skippy’s car, with the redhead at the wheel. She screeched to a stop and jumped out of the still-running car carrying two large canvas bags and rushed to the station door.

‘’Hey!’ Frank yelled. ‘You! Lisa! We know who you are!’

‘Actually, we don’t…’ Joe mumbled, clutching his gun.

‘And what you did!’ Frank continued. ‘Give it up now!’

The redhead stopped in her tracks and whirled around to face the group. She held a rather menacing .45 magnum, and pointed it at Frank!

 

It’s not over yet- Chapter X

                                                            X

 

They all spent the better part of an hour searching the caretaker’s house. They found empty liquor bottles, dirty dishes, and some of Lucas’ porn magazines, but no keys or pass card.

‘Well, it sure looks like the bitch took them,’ Pepe said, surreptitiously sliding a porno mag under his shirt. ‘Now what?’

Chopin ‘s Funeral March started playing from Frank’s pocket. He fished his phone out and said, ‘ Damn. It’s dad. I’ve gotta change this ring tone.’

‘What’s the ring like for Fatty Patty’s Den of Sin?’ Skippy asked with a grin.

‘Fuck off,’ Frank said after he answered the phone. ‘Oh- sorry dad. That was for Skip.’

‘Your pinkstripe friend might be a little happier now,’ Ferris Hardley said. ‘His car was just spotted seconds ago heading south on Gault Road, along the railroad tracks.’

‘Maybe she plans to ditch the car and hop a train!’ Frank shouted, hanging up on his father. ‘She’s headed to the train station! Let’s go!’

The Macmillans stayed behind to wait for Lorne Murchison to wake up, while Sean and Titus followed the Beamer down Gault Road at breakneck speed. Titus and Joe had their guns ready while Pepe had some difficulty choosing a weapon in his Xanax-addled state. There was no sign of the Pinkmobile on the road, and the station’s parking lot was nearly empty, except for a police car waiting by the side of the road.

Skippy took out his PDA and looked up the train timetable. ‘The next train for New York arrives at 5:42. That’s in three minutes!’

Frank slowed down to not disturb the cops. The caravan pulled into the parking lot by the station, and they all ran behind the station, and watched the parking lot.

‘Maybe we were wrong,’ Joe said. ‘ She would have been here by now.’

They heard a faint rumble, and the train appeared up the tracks seconds later, slowing down to enter the station.

The squealing of tires instantly interrupted their fixation on the train. Skippy’s car, with the redhead at the wheel. She screeched to a stop and jumped out of the still-running car carrying two large canvas bags and rushed to the station door.

‘’Hey!’ Frank yelled. ‘You! Lisa! We know who you are!’

‘Actually, we don’t…’ Joe mumbled, clutching his gun.

‘And what you did!’ Frank continued. ‘Give it up now!’

The redhead stopped in her tracks and whirled around to face the group. She held a rather menacing .45 magnum, and pointed it at Frank!