“The best moments happen when I lose myself in the music and I leave the room for the duration of the tune, and the audience and the musician become one emotional unit.” For Claes Brondal, jazz music is more than mellow harmonies of the cool or super accentuated rhythm in all things venturesomely juggled and yet gently stringed together for a memorable melody, it is a force, a verve that intimately connects and harmonizes two souls in a moment of chaste emotional output.
The Jam Session is the physical embodiment of Brondal’s mission of creating awareness and reviving interest for the jazz community on the East End.
“The survival, culture, and well being of jazz as an American art form, is solely the responsibility of future generations,” says Brondal.
In our society, jazz has become less and less an affair of the youth. The genre receives little support by the record industry, the media, and society at large. Although it is still managing to survive, jazz is not thriving like some other types of music.
But only surviving is the lowest strata of existence, and that is not enough for Brondal.
“If people are not exposed to and do not participate in the evolution of jazz, the genre will fade out and not be a reflection of our time,” informs a passionate Brondal.
Brondal, along with his partner-in-crime, John Landes, established the Jam Session back in 2009 in Landes’ Bay Burger restaurant with the intent of reviving the jazz culture for all ages, but especially among the East End’s younger generation.
“The Jam Session was conceived to fill a live jazz void in our community and it is our mission to expose live quality jazz to people for free or at a very low cost,” says Brondal. “It is important to us that kids and the new generation are familiar with Jazz and all its subgenres.”
As much as Brondal and Landes enjoy playing, they understand that creating jazz awareness is more than just a soul-felt live performance. The Jam Session is living and breathing jazz education.
Young kids know what jazz is in a broad, Webster dictionary sense, but that is equivalent to knowing a great American novel only through synopsis. Like a good book, the cultural references and symbology of jazz run deep.
Every cog in the jazz wheel – the history, the lineage, the colorful personalities, the tragic heroes, the unsung geniuses, the fables, the legends, and the war stories – makes up the totality of the art form. That is why jazz is so utterly captivating.
Nowadays, jazz seems to be merely a great historic memory stuck in the 20th century, a tangent in humanity’s existence in yet another individual quest for musical self-expression.
However, for Brondal, jazz is not just an art form but also a way of thinking and living your life. “Its creative expression is very healthy for our minds, body and emotional well being, where the creative process is important for cognitive and social development.”
Brondal has been reaching out to East End schools to help him in his mission of creating awareness of the jazz community. Schools can help revive this lost art form by informing their students about organizations like the Jam Session.
“If jazz was marketed as aggressively as Hip Hop, R&B, and Pop the state of the genre would be different,” says Brondal. “And that’s what we’re trying to change – the culture of live progressive music.”
Great music is a shared experience. It teaches spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise. Like all types of music it is catharsis; it has the power to reach new levels of creative individuality as well as old familiar places that offer redemption, or as hard bop tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin said, “Jazz is music made by and for the people who have chosen to feel good in spite of conditions.”
The Jam Session can be heard every Wednesday, 7-8 p.m. on 88.3FM. For local performances see Dan’s Calendar or visit thejamsession.org.