Jam sessions, we’ve seen a few. This one I happen to know a bit of the history and its worth recording, if only once again to celebrate unsung activists. So the East Bristol Jazz Club is re-born at the interestingly and appealingly re-furbished Greenbank pub in Easton (I’m sure locals will tell me its in Greenbank!). Last night’s Jam was a cracker. Plenty of Bristol’s talent were there with established players rubbing shoulders with the just starting out (and not quite got going yet). This session has moved, but has a traceable link to a session started by trumpeter Dave Mowatt ten years ago. The house pianist last night, John Lambert, was there at that first session half mile along the road in another pub. Dave always had an inclusive instinct and took it with him when he moved the session to Seymours (now demolished ) in Barton Hill. He even secured funding in the mid noughties from a local regeneration programme and there was a spell when there was a part time paid community jazz development worker! Those sessions became somewhat legendary with occasional audiences and attendances that most jazz performers would compromise themselves for. When Seymours closed, the idea of the session was nurtured by a new group of enthusiasts, mainly energised by singer Nick Langston and it migrated first to the nearby Labour club and then to the Cross Hands up the road in Downend. Then, as is so often the case, changing landlords enforced a pause. Until now. The combined persuasive powers of two of the latter day stalwarts of the sessions, Walter Dirks and Simon Greening have inveigled great rhythm sections down to the Greenbank and a monthly session is becoming established. What is the elusive chemistry that makes a jam exciting and musical and draws people in? Whatever it is, a succession of people have kept this particular idea alive and another generation of players are starting to feel like its part of their scene and won’t want it stop.
Jams and local history, East Bristol Jazz Club, The Greenbank, Bristol, Monday 15th, February