Jam sessions are still alive and well
Turbo Haüs welcomed its second Growve MTL event of the month on Sept. 15. The night was met with a packed venue space and filled with a lively audience. Many members of the crowd were excited as they had attended said event on previous occasions. One individual called Growve MTL a “must-see event every young musician in Montreal has to be a part of at least once.” Before going into the bar, however, COVID-19 precautions such as vaccination status were necessary to check before enjoying the live show.
Growve MTL is an event that hosts live jam sessions at different venues: Wednesdays are at Turbo Haüs and every other Thursday is at Blue Dog. Shayne Assouline, a Concordia student in the jazz studies program, is the host and co-founder of the event, alongside Shem G. who is a professional beatmaker in the Greater Montreal area. They are both part of a band called The Many, and met three years ago at a bar called Urban Science, which hosts jam sessions under their “le Cypher” event, according to Marcus Dillon, a member of the Dust Gang community. The Many are the main act of Growve MTL, and are associated with the community known as Dust Gang.
The aim of Dust Gang and their event Growve MTL is to bring together artists who are so comfortable in their respective musical craft, whether they play drums or bass or even the flute, that they bring something new to the table each time. In doing so, they make every show unique, even if they play the same song for multiple events. For example, a new musician will come to the stage with a saxophone and perform differently than the other woodwind musician, just because of their different influences and past environments.
When asked what the main genre of music played at Growve events, Assouline said “They focus on mostly hip hop and jazz since they come from the same roots.” Dillon, a member of their group, replied “Mostly Black American music,” since they welcome other categories such as funk and blues. This could open the door to many musicians who want to take part in these public jam evenings. The majority of the music styles we know of today have ties to music made by African American communities, ranging from rock to alternative, to even metal.
The niche for the night’s event was “The Internet Theme,” which brought covers cherished by the internet like “Them Changes” by acclaimed bassist Thundercat, and “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan. After the internet theme, a jam session followed, which saw a plethora of musicians make a statement to the crowd and converse with The Many, the main act of the night. Overall, a total of 20 musicians played together, feeding off of each other’s energy and musicality.
After the show, the crowd thanked Assouline, Shem G., and Dillon for the colourful night. The performers there were humble and it showed; there was no ego, only the need to lose themselves in the music. All they asked the crowd in return was to “Bring more folks next time!” Despite the pandemic and the new regulations that circulate around COVID-19, a congregation of unique musicians created a wonderful event that night. It is comforting to know that there are individuals out there working hard to let people escape their present-day troubles with opportunities for musicians to come let loose during a live jam session.
Photographs by Saro Hartounian