Roger-Z: What's your concept of an open jam? Dan Chopper Carillo: I've been playing drums for over thirty years and only started going to open jams
about 6 years ago. However, in that short time, I've learned many positive things and a few problematic issues
that occur at the typical open jam. About a year and a half ago, I began The Sunday Nite Jam Sessions
(TSNJS) at Elements-White Plains with these issues in mind as well as to emulate the old NYC-style jazz
jam sessions that have been brought out of the dark by the Ken Burns video documentaries.
I truly believe there is a distinction between an "open jam" and a "jam session."
At an open jam, you'll find most people play for themselves as opposed to a jam session where
dedicated musicians try to become and sound as one. A jam session should inspire everyone and
provide dedicated musicians with a public forum to reach beyond their comfort-zone of a particular genre
while challenging themselves to "lock-in" and create a chemistry among musicians from different styles and
Roger-Z: How do you pick your co-hosts for the jams? Dan Chopper Carillo: One of the most important tools a musician can possess is a large musical vocabulary.
I realized by rotating a cast of professional musicians every week, it increases the variety of music and
produces a deeper base of song selections. This helps keep things fresh for the listeners and players
alike. Fortunately, the tri-state area offers a depth and wealth of talent that exceeds any place in the world.
By mixing and matching, we can create explosive, jaw-dropping musical
moments that simply do not occur anywhere else.
I generally select the featured performer first, then fit in other complementary musicians or (and this is the
fun part) I'll go out on a limb and layer in an eclectic group of super talented people and just let it fly.
Or perhaps, a showcase performance by a popular band or group of musicians that have recently begun working
together. I'm always looking to diversify and grow the talent base, so I'm open to suggestions.
Roger-Z: How do your three jams differ? Dan Chopper Carillo:
The Sunday Nite Jam Sessions at Elements rotates the entire house band. So I have the most freedom to
experiment and blend different musical styles with a diverse and ever-increasing cast of professional musicians.
Due to a plethora of open jams on any given night, each bar must separate itself and provide
incentives to attract musicians as well as audiences. Typically, these include an extended happy
hour or other promotional products that the bar may already have worked out with their distributors.
Plus, you can always contact a distributor yourself and work out an exclusive promotional deal with them or
pick up sponsorship from a local business. Most importantly, I work out base pay and compensation
well in advance of the actually gig. I also have a contingency plan, because demanding your base pay on a
very bad turnout could get you replaced. Conversely, I work out additional compensation when nights are really good.
Roger-Z: How do you promote the jams? Dan Chopper Carillo: Honestly, word of mouth is still the best mode of promotion. If it's a good jam session, the word will get out
and slowly people will begin to show up on a consistent and sustainable basis. Social-networking sites work
very well, yet, if abused they can be counter-productive. Sending out multiple invites on various electronic
mediums is the wrong approach. One event, one invite. The same goes for gimmicks and tricks, too!
Honestly, nothing can replace solid performances from respected and quality musicians.
Roger-Z: How do you put together your jammers? Dan Chopper Carillo: I actually use a process similar to how I pick the house band. I figure out who can lead a set with
vocals or who is the most competent musician to choose songs that most other musicians will know. Additionally,
I'll go around and quickly speak with various musicians to see if they have a preference for a particular
Roger-Z: What do you expect from jammers? Dan Chopper Carillo: As a host, I feel obligated to the musicians, the venue, and to everyone that enjoys
live performances to keep the music at the highest possible level of quality. My biggest pet-peeves are
musicians who don't tune up, play obscenely loud, and "noodle" in between songs. These jam sessions are
for public consumption and all musicians should keep that in mind. It is truly up to each
individual musician to practice and come prepared to play. And never forget to listen as
much as you play.