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Why You Should Join U-JAM

August 29, 2009

“To advocate, mentor, educate, and act as a resource for the community of musicians and music lovers who share a passion for jazz in its many forms.”UJAMlogoweb

Until last year, I didn’t have a clue what U-JAM was. I’d see their monthly meeting listed on the Hermann’s calendar and wonder about it but never follow up. Then came an assignment from Monday Magazine that led to a conversation with Dave Paulson, a key figure on Victoria’s music scene for many years, and one of the founders of U-JAM.

Paulson enlightened me and not long after that I joined the society, seeing in it something that the Victoria Jazz Society, which exists mainly to bring in touring players, doesn’t offer.

For those in the dark, U-JAM stands for Universal Jazz Advocates and Mentors Society – quite a mouthful. What the heck do they do? Well, it turns out, quite a lot.

First, there’s the monthly events down at Hermann’s featuring local musicians, not only playing but also talking about their music. This year they’ve already lined up pianists George Essihos and Miles Black to perform together in a program that features mentors (Essihos) and their former students (Black) who have gone on to become successful players in their own right.

Then there’s the monthly jam sessions open to aspiring jazzers of all sorts – last year held at Tom Lee Music out in Colwood. This year, the hope is to set up shop a little closer to the centre of town. If you play an instrument and haven’t played much (or any) jazz but would like to, this is the place to be. Under the direction of skilled players like Paulson, you’ll get to stretch out a bit on a number of jazz standards.

U-JAM also offers a youth mentorship program that sees local musicians like guitarist Rob Cheramy work with aspiring young players in combos and a larger group called the Young All Stars. U-JAM is doing everything it can to be active in the schools and support the development of young players in our region.

This year, as well, there’s talk of connecting with other local arts communities. One idea would see a poetry and jazz night happening down at Hermann’s, possibly with the involvement of local poets, professional and student.

The point is U-JAM uses it resources, including donations from local businesses, to support local programs that develop the local community. It’s not about spending big bucks to bring in big players from faraway places. It’s about using modest funds and the work of volunteers to do some serious jazz community building.

You can learn more about U-JAM at their website http://u-jam.ca/ They don’t have their new events posted yet but that information will be up soon. In the meantime you can get a head start by downloading a membership form and for a mere $10 joining a society that is keeping jazz alive where it counts – at the grassroots level.

– Rick Gibbs

Categories: General
  1. Sally Manning
    September 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Hey Rick – Sorry I’m a little late in commenting – I’ve been away – but what a great article! We hope to see many of your readers at our monthly meetings. Thanks for giving us this promo!

  2. Rick Gibbs
    August 29, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Werner, You’re welcome!

  3. August 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks a lot rick for this recommendation of U-JAM. The more members we have the more we can keep Victoria swingin’!

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