Music for Jams

You don't have to know a bunch of songs or bring your own books - you can always look on with somebody and there's often a spare tablet or 2 on the bandstand with concert pitch and Bb music (Eb isn't so common). But if you want to, here are a couple good resources:

iRealPro is great for jams (and practicing) - transposable chord charts app for phones + tablets.

Install the app ($14) then download songs and playlists free from iRealPro forums.
This page has 100's of Dixieland/trad jazz songs including most of what comes up at our jams.

For practicing it also plays a backing track with the chords (keyboard, bass, drums) - you set the key, tempo, + style. It's like a metronome plus a pretty decent "robot rhythm section" playing the chords.

Creole Jazz Band books - FREE books with lead sheets for a couple hundred trad jazz songs.
Available in concert pitch and Bb and Eb transposing instruments (trumpet, clarinet, sax, etc).

The Preservation Hall Foundation's Brass Bandbook is an online learning tool for educators, students, and jazz lovers alike. This essential collection from the New Orleans Brass Band Repertoire includes transcriptions and information by the leader of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, trumpeter Mark Braud. We are grateful to them for sharing their stuff!

Many musicians bring their Dixieland Real Book to jams. Concert and Bb editions, $20-30.

Basics for a Trad Jazz Jam

Here's a couple basics, hoping to help somebody sit in on a jam and ...
 - know what's going on, play along, + contribute sooner, and
 - have more fun sooner.

(For a quick look at the COHJS / SwingColumbus Community Jam & Social Dance in action, hit this up.)

Trad jazz bands use some conventions about how they turn a pretty simple + short song into a performance.


From "the form" to a Performance

Expand this section to read it collapse it if you already get it.


4 Songs to Start With

These songs all have very common chord progressions. The same or pretty similar sounds (chords) come up in tons of songs. So you get a lot of mileage out of these songs when you get where you can:
1. recognize these sounds,
2. know what the chords + notes are doing in the key you're playing in at the moment, and
3. know how to make them on your instrument.

Dallas Blues- Bb  -   -   -   listenlead sheetBb lead sheet
Yes Sir That's My Baby- Bb listenlead sheetBb lead sheet

Five Foot Two- C  -   -   -  listenlead sheetBb lead sheet
Bourbon Street Parade- Ab listenlead sheetBb lead sheetEb lead sheet

We suggest you invest 5x more time listening + playing along, than reading the lead sheets + trying to memorize it that way. SO MUCH of this music is in the feel, the rhythm, and the groove, and that just ain't there on the page!

The Circle of 4th's

It's very helpful to memorize this Circle of 4th's.
(The Circle of 5th's is the same thing - you just go the other way around.)

Circle of 4th's

Chord progressions in MANY musical phrases go right around this circle. Look at the first 2 lines of Five Foot Two:
• You start on C (home chord in the key of C). Then -
• The first change is a "jump" to E7, and from there:
• The whole rest of the phrase goes RIGHT around the Circle of 4ths:
E7 - A7 - D7 - G7 - (back home to) C.
When a chord has the "7th" - like that E7 and those that follow in this progression - the next chord is VERY OFTEN the next one around this Circle of 4ths.

So it's VERY helpful to really memorize this Circle, something like:
From C, C7 goes to F ...
... F7 goes to Bb ...
... Bb7 goes to Eb ...
... Eb7 goes to Ab ...
... and so on, around the 12 chords in the circle.

Knowing the "chord progression" of this circle DOWN COLD really speeds up understanding what you hear, and being able to play and contribute to it. It's like:
• When you learn to read + write, you memorize the order of the alphabet: "A B C D, E F G ..."
• When you start counting and arithmetic, you learn the order of the numbers: "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10"
You get these things down COLD, so you can USE them without thinking about them.

The Circle of 4th's is the music / chord progression equivalent of "ABC" and "123".
"Knowing it" means knowing the chord letter names (that helps). But keep at it and you'll be able to hear a "regular" progression (going around the circle), and hear the "jumps", and know what the different jumps sound like. The next steps are to learn what notes are in these chords, and where to find them on your instrument - to learn the major and minor scales and chords in each of these keys. But that's another 'chapter.'


Play + Learn More - Camps + Jams

Expand this section to read itcollapse it if you already get it.


Suggestions? Want more help? Get in touch!


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For $20 a year you get $5 off the regular show admission and our newsletter - - but what you really get is doing your bit to keep hot jazz and dance live + local!


The Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to enjoying and sharing traditional American jazz of the early 20th century. Comes in many styles and called by many names - traditional jazz, Dixieland jazz, classic jazz, hot jazz, New Orleans style jazz ... or San Francisco, Chicago, Kansas City, New York style jazz.
We LISTEN, PLAY, + DANCE to it, especially LIVE and NEAR HOME!

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