Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Farnell Newton's Jam Of The Week

Farnell Newton
It's amazing how much Facebook has changed our lives: some for the better and some for the worse. It is a great way to stay in touch with old friends across the world, as well as a way to make new friends. Musicians can promote their music and increase their fan base. Indeed, this blog right here would be much less relevant without Facebook. However, it can also be a huge distraction; we get caught up inflame wars and humble brags that we would otherwise ignore. Someone you think is your friend starts posting horrible things about world politics which you disagree with, so you de-friend them in a huff( I guess that's one of the worst things you could do to someone in cyberspace.). Now, many of us are trying to either get off of Facebook and get on with our ACTUAL lives instead of getting caught up in the news items of people we barely know. (I'm constantly amazed with the wide spectrum of content on the news feed. From "What's up, my peeps?" to "Did you know Monsanto is killing our planet every day?" from " I just ate a cheeseburger and it was good!" to " Krishnamurti says that we are all one with each other and that oneness brings light into our hearts, yada yada yada.") Some people have said that Facebook will, sooner rather than later, be damned to the realm currently occupied by that other great but now almost forgotten MySpace.( Hey, maybe I'll log in to MySpace. Whoops, can't even remember my password. Oh well.)

As much as I am trying to limit my Facebook time, I find myself being drawn back in by a new page
from trumpeter and Portland resident Farnell Newton. Mr. Newton, who has been touring the world with Bootsy Collins and Jill Scott, has created a Facebook page called Jam Of The Week. This is a forum where a jazz tune is suggested, and anyone can upload one chorus of an improvised solo over the chord changes. It's a cool idea, especially for students because they can upload something to
share, but also see what others are doing. It's also cool because it seems as thought the protocol is that you upload a video of yourself WITH NO ACCOMPANIMENT. This is really important for students as well as professionals because if one goal is to be able to play the changes well enough so that they are clear WITH NO ACCOMPANIMENT, and another goal is to keep time on our own WITH NO ACCOMPANIMENT, then this reveals all.

It seems like it's really catching on; merely in it's third week, hundreds of folks are uploading one chorus solos on the chosen tunes. The first week was a blues, the second was Just Friends, and this week was All The Things You Are. I uploaded videos for the latter two songs. I enjoyed the process; this forum motivates to to present one "perfect or at least respectable chorus to the world. I'm noticing that most of the comments(feedback) say things like,"Sounds great, buddy!" or "Man you are killing!" Again, this is the nature of the medium; no one wants to start a flame war about someone's solo that they maybe don't like. But that's cool for now. I'm really curious to see how long this will last and how it's going to develop. Maybe this will really inspire folks to get their playing up to speed.
David Goldblatt
Indeed, I felt good about my chorus on "Just Friends" until I heard pianist and Portland resident
 David Goldblatt's chorus. Wow! That guy has some chops.

As I have said, the virtual world is great and in some ways convenient. However, I say this, and yet I also think about the fact that last year, Portland had a Monday night jam session, a Tuesday night Jam session, a Wednesday Night Jam, and A Thursday Night Jam, and all of those jams have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. So, kudos to Mr. Newton and I anticipate next week's selection for Jam Of The Week. Check it out if you have a chance. On another tip, let's not forget that things like this are only PART of the equation; music can be made with other people and heard by people LIVE!

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