with bands like the grateful dead and phish where the jams are what the majority fans are into them for, it’s rare that you can share an example of a song or jam that gets “there” in a short period of time. the most popular versions of both of those bands’ respective catalogues are almost exclusively fifteen minutes and longer.
patience is the most important virtue for anyone who loves improvisational music, whether that’s jam rock, jazz, avant garde or whatever. listening to the beginning of a structured song and going on the journey with the musicians as they take it further and further away from the basic melodies and basis is what makes this whole thing fun, especially when you are experiencing it firsthand in a live setting. replay value is great but nothing beats being there in the moment.
that’s why i had to share this five and a half minute soundcheck jam performed by spafford more than two years ago at coyote joe’s in prescott. i’d never heard it until today and after six listens so far i’d have to say that it’s the most succinct jam i’ve heard the band play. no meandering, no hesitation, just straight to the good stuff.
and while i’m at it, take another five minutes and listen to “hollywood” from their show at tucson’s gem and jam festival last weekend. this is definitely a new song to me, but if they’ve played it before i wasn’t lucky enough to be there. this is a mature sounding band right here y’all, from the tom petty “american girl” intro fake out to the lyrical reflection heard in each verse and chorus.
“hollywood” has quickly become my hands down favorite “song-y” song by them. i’d love to see it jammed out of course, but at this point i’d love to just see it at all (cough cough cactus jack’s cough cough).