Some musicians and bands are world famous for their jam sessions whilst performing live on stage. Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix was famous for impromptu guitar solos going off the scale, and more recently the Red-Hot Chili Peppers are renowned for breaking into a spontaneous jam session. In the past other great musical luminaries, such as the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin were well known for performing thirty-minute versions of their classic songs. In this blog we look at some old and new bands that are famous for their live performance and in particular their jam sessions on stage.
It is rather difficult to classify Pink Floyd, they were always known as progressive rock but somehow this does not seem to be a correct tag. Most of their concerts and tours were impeccably well rehearsed but they did include certain songs that were really lengthy, such as Dogs and Shine on You Crazy Diamond. But during their Ummagumma time things were slightly different, led by the amazing Syd Barret their concerts in London were very much improvised and the band simply jammed.
Widespread Panic are famous for their Red Rocks shows although their fans think they have never got the recognition that their obvious talent should have. For those who were fortunate to have seen some of their concerts live at The Red Rocks festival they would have seen some of the finest improvisation on stage. The band has toured extensively for thirty years but has nothing that they could claim as a chart hit. They are however, one of the finest bands to see live and although the band were rocked by the loss of Michael Houser, the replacement Jimmy Herring has kept his legacy alive.
Dave Matthews Band
This is the first in what you could loosely call a real Jam Band, even though they have had numerous hits and appeared on MTV, their live sets are something completely different. Go to a Dave Matthews Band concert and listen to their live renditions of The Space Between and Crash and see the band really getting into the improvisation. The band has an ethos of making each gig as unique as it can be, even if they play the same songs on different nights. They are in essence a road band, that love to play live and have the musicians talented enough to be able to do this.
There was no such classification as Jam Bands in Cream’s day, but these three legendary musicians Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce could jam with the best. Take the time to listen to their live recordings and you will realize exactly that Wheels on Fire, Spoonful and Toad are totally improvised. The three musicians were virtuoso’s in their own right and could happily break into a solo at a moment’s notice. We leave our jam session for the time being but will get the band back together in part two of our blog when we feature Phish, The Allman Brothers and of course the legendary Grateful Dead.