This Sunday evening finds Steve & Friends back at Killeen’s Crescent Lounge for a reprise of last month’s Jazz Jam Session.
“We had a good turnout last month and it was a treat for our audience,” said Kevin Williams, co-owner of the club. Open to singers and instrumentalists ready to show their musical prowess onstage, the response and attendance from area musicians at July’s jam was gratifying, Williams said. “So we booked Steve & Friends to host (the jam session) again this month.”
Sunday’s format will follow last month’s, according to bandleader Steve Pettit. “Downbeat is at 7 p.m., we’ll play three sets and the jam session starts at 8, for the second set.” The five-piece group from Killeen’s Swingtime Big Band includes Pettit and vocalist Ashley Hill of Killeen, Joseph Valencia of Copperas Cove, Ed Hernandez of Harker Heights and Les Young of Austin.
Pettit said the event is open to all and is not competitive.
“It’s not a ‘cutting contest’, just an opportunity for some friends to make some exciting music together,” he said.
Players in the July jam ranged in age from 19 to 60-plus, with skill levels “all over the map,” Pettit said. “But that’s the point — the traditional method of learning to improvise was to take your horn and show up at every jam session you could find. Nowadays, most students take courses in high school and college, but nothing beats the real live experience of getting on the bandstand in a nightclub.”
The Crescent Lounge charges no admission fee for Sunday’s Jazz Jam. “We are committed to bringing the best in live music,” Williams said. The club’s full-service bar and kitchen will be open for business, but there is no minimum purchase required.
Musical selections for the jam segment are not cast in stone, Pettit said, and will include a few up-tempo tunes, “standards” from the great American songbook, bebop compositions and 12-bar blues in medium and slow tempos. “We try to have enough contrasting styles of tunes so that beginners and professionals alike will feel at home improvising,” Pettit said. Those with questions about the format or repertoire can call him at 254-463-2852.
Steve & Friends’ goal is to provide a “solid, comfortable accompaniment for soloists,” Pettit said. “We really want every musician and singer who sits in with the band to sound great.”