The jam session stays alive–every Tuesday–at the Baggot Inn

November 2, 2007


A 9pm-1am slot on a weeknight might be inconvenient for any bar concert, but I was nevertheless disappointed to see such a slim audience at guitarist Jason Rosen’s weekly jam session–especially since it happened in a neighborhood with an otherwise round-the clock schedule. Third avenue between Sullivan and Thompson streets was wide awake with late-night bodega shoppers and college students, but few seemed interested in the prospect of live music. 

Rosen’s energetic set would have been an ideal introduction to the live music culture for any Ipod listener; although it included spur-of the moment solos and other improvised segments, the tunes included sing-along classics like Get up, Stand up and Born to be Wild.  His rotating lineup of musicians included skilled basists, saxophonists and drummers. During their break I chatted, for example, with Japanese  drummer Tomo Kano and Berklee-educated Basist Antar Goodwin. 

Rosen is a self-taught guitarist who grew up in the Westbeth artists’ colony in the 1960s. His mother worked at the Village Vanguard, and throughout his childhood Rosen was surrounded by spontaneous live music. Like many musicians I’ve met during the past two months, he was worried about the withering status of New York’s music culture.

“The Audiences aren’t as interested. Most of the audiences are tourists, who come to New York to see the jazz scene. That’s who supports it, not local New Yorkers,” he said. “People aren’t aware of the visceral experience of live music, they don’t seem to want it as much.”

Rosen supplements his income by booking clubs like the Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem and the Red Lion on Bleecker Street. His idea for the jam session, he said, came from his desire to support a legacy of music education. It was through jam sessions, after all, that Rosen got his own education. 

“Jam sessions are the tradition of music everywhere forever. To get young musicians and experienced musicians together and do some different things,” he said.

In case you walk in the neighborhood on a Tuesday night, stop by the Baggot Inn to see a song or two. The  musicians’ joy is both accessible and unpretentious, and the cause of live music is something worth supporting. Not to mention, there is no cover.

Links: (Rosen’s frequently touring and performing band) (The Baggot Inn) (bassist Antar Goodwin’s web site)

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