Jam sessions can be really inspiring yet intense, depending on how you approach it and who you jam with. Some time back, I came out of a jam session and a close friend asked, "how do you feel about it?" and it sparked me to write this, even though it took quite some time before I could organise my thoughts.
(Shoutout: this post is dedicated to him, for not only being a great friend, but an inspiration to me)
I think every type of music has a groove, a feeling. Much like Adam Neely's concept on time and pulse between classical and jazz music, there is also this innate feeling to the music and how to play it. I know, "feel" of the music is different from the question of how I felt about the jam session, but it was a good learning experience that I wouldn't have thought about, especially more so if I hadn't been asked that question.
Take jazz for example - while it is not incorrect to think of the subdivisions being triplets, it is also not correct to think that way. During JARD, Greg Hutchinson would have us listen to and watch some of the best jazz drummers and he would often say "Man, that sh*t swingin'!" And unfortunately for me, I couldn't quite figure out why - it's all because I don't speak the language to understand it. Hip-hop is also another genre that has some pretty great stuff! Sometimes the drummer goes into this groove that doesn't quite fit and lock into the grid (in comparison to pop or rock music) and again, we can try and decrypt whatever subdivision the drummer is playing in, but it will never come close to the "feel" of it. Even sometimes, while I sit and listen (especially when I'm not playing) from the back of the orchestra, I get thrown off by how the orchestra can feel the pulse and play together. There have been instances where I thought people were missing beats here and there but somehow, everyone manages to stay as a unit - again, all about the "feel".
I'm not qualified to educate about this "feel" thing, but in my opinion, it's about knowing the language and nuances, to be well-versed in it, and the "feel" will come as a result of practicing and performing it. It's also knowing your instrument so well and being so comfortable that you're not thinking technically but rather, immersed fully in the music and making the music sound better.
But to sum this all up, my takeaway from the question wasn't the answer itself, but the revelation (well.. not really as it's more of a reminder) that not all musicians feel music the same way. And these jam sessions can be a good platform and opportunity to understand each other, and also a great way to learn from one another. So next time you're in a jam session, I hope that this week's post has some takeaways you can bring to the table!
As always, thanks for taking the time to read. Stay safe and well, and I'll leave you guys with this :)