Charlie Parker said, “Learn everything, then forget it all.”
The new weekly open jam session at Sly McFly’s every Tuesday presents a promising platform to employ – or learn how to employ – the legendary saxophonist’s impromptu philosophy.
Drummer Jim Payne hosts every second and fourth week, while longtime bluesman Dennis Dove takes the captain’s chair the first and third Tuesday of the month.
“It’s great when you see someone who’s nervous at first settle into it,” Payne says. “I always leave plenty of space for improvisation.”
Previously, Payne led a weekly jam session at Bay of Pines for six months. He’s also performed with and produced records for many of funk’s greatest groups, including the J. B. horns section (James Brown’s band), with sax men Maceo Parker and Pee Wee Ellis and trombonist Fred Wesley (The J.B. Horns: PeeWee, Fred & Maceo and Funky Good Time, Live in Tokyo.)
“We’re on the same wavelength,” he says of the J.B.’s. “They’ve been through everything, and the fact that they worked for James Brown – who was difficult to work for and basically kept all the money of the musicians who worked for him – says they can work with any situation.”
Payne’s core group, the Funk Unit, featuring local talents Jesse DeCarlo (guitar), Bob Wider (bass) and Richard Hall (keys), were hand-picked for their ability to work with any situation.
“These guys can roll with the punches,” Payne says.
From 8:30-9:30pm, Payne and the Funk Unit kick off the night with a warm-up set, featuring everything from Pee Wee Ellis to Herbie Hancock’s funkier material like “Watermelon Man.”
The first hour also serves as an opportunity for under-21 music students to participate. The session opens up to everyone at 9:30pm.
“It’s always wild and crazy fun and we’ll be there to back up anyone who wants to get up and play,” Payne says.
There will be a sign-up sheet and Payne will call folks up in order. Participants should bring their own instruments.
“We’ll mess around with different keys before launching into whatever you want,” he says. “It’s a quick off-the-cuff deal.”
Payne says in past experiences, he noticed that the more inexperienced people benefitted most.
“This is your chance to get on a stage in front of an audience,” he says. “We’re friendly guys and we’re going to help and support you.”
OPEN JAM SESSION 9pm every Tuesday. Sly McFly’s, 700 Cannery Row, Monterey. 649-8050.