The Jam

Michael L. Nelson By

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I would like to invite you to take a ride on the 'A-Train' for 'A Night in Tunisia'. Or would you prefer to go to 'St. Thomas'? We can leave 'Round Midnight'. You'll enjoy the ride; the train only plays 'All Blues'.

Welcome to Dallas, Texas. Where this trip takes place every 3rd Friday night of the month at the South Dallas Cultural Center .

'The Jam' is the premier jam session in the area. It brings the most talented and hungry young players. 'I tell them, they get their technical training from school, and then they come here to learn to play '' says Vickie Meek, the center's director. 'The Jam' was started in 1997 under the guidance of the then new director. 'I wanted to have a venue where the young guys could learn from their elders. And a chance to foster a new respect for the music', says Meek.

The house band at 'The Jam' features no less than Dallas jazz royalty. At the helm, is educator/pianist Roger Boykin. His reputation for being a jazz virtuoso and his willingness to teach is inspirational and quite well known. On this particular night, Alex Camp on bass and Drew Phelps on drums anchor the rhythm section. Featured is local product, tenor man Shelley Carroll. Carroll is also a reedman with the Duke Ellington band. Also featured is tenor man Jason Davis. Davis' improvisational skills are only rivaled by his electric showmanship.

After each number, the house band invites would be 'young cats' to earn their whiskers. The elders show little mercy on the bandstand as they weave in and out of chord changes and push tempos in the tradition of old fashion cutting contests. But here, no one ever gets cut out or off. Just encouraged!

Being the premier jam session in the area makes it attractive to players who have proven their chops in big arenas. Grammy-award winning band leader/trumpeter Roy Hargrove, frequents the session whenever he is home. You might also catch superstar and Dallas native Erykah Badu or underground sensation N'Dambi in attendance. Also, students from in and out of the metroplex are always in the house. Students come from the U of North Texas, U of Texas-Arlington, and all area Dallas County Community Colleges and even from far away as Grambling University in Louisiana.

Sharpening your chops with the good, better, and best the area has to offer is what 'The Jam' is all about. Its outcome serves to contribute to the community of music, continue to add to musicianship as a whole and garner a new respect for Jazz Music!

The South Dallas Cultural Center is located at 3400 S. Fitzhugh Avenue, Dallas, Texas. Jam Session starts at 12am - 3am.


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