The Jam Band Tradition Continues In The 21st Century
The venerable rock and roll tradition of the “jam band” has had a long and illustrious run in the annals of popular music history. Ever since the 1960’s generation of rock groups, such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and others began applying the improvisational principles of bebop jazz to an R&B back beat, a whole new form of music has had an impressive run of success.
Why Is Spontaneous Jamming So Important?
The tradition of spontaneous jamming that has arisen in this genre of music has been cited as being the natural evolution of rock music as it existed in the middle 1960’s. The combination of improved musical technique with the streamlined structures popularized by The Beatles created a whole new atmosphere of freedom and openness that the music had never known before.
Combined with innovations in amplification and effects technology, the new music was armed with a kind of attraction and power that very few performers prior to the era had ever been able to wield. By the end of the 1960’s, “jamming” was the dominant fashion in rock music.
Perhaps the reason why jamming is so important in the history of rock music is the freedom it gives to musicians to explore all sorts of strange and unusual scales and chord structures, all the while keeping the rock and roll back beat firmly in place. The juxtaposition of this back beat with the long, sometimes completely free, solos creates an exciting blend of the exotic and familiar that has thrilled audiences for nearly half a century.
Modern Jam Band Are Keeping The Tradition Alive
Modern jam bands and individual performers, such as Boyd Tinsley, are keeping this venerable tradition alive. Tinsley, who is best known as the violinist of the very popular Dave Matthews Band, is also a band leader in his own right. He is one of a great many modern performers who are doing their best to bring “jam band” music to a whole new level of influence and popularity.
While elders of the scene, such as The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band, have recently announced their retirement from the live performance circuit, there are a great many newer groups who are well positioned to become the new leaders of the jam band scene. As such, there is every reason to believe that the scene will remain vibrant and relevant far into the 21st century.