Dan Chopper Carillo "Jam Master Dan Chopper Carillo"

Dan Chopper Carillo
"Jam Master Dan Chopper Carillo"

Sunday @ Elements 914-358-4930
161 Mamaroneck Ave. White Plains, NY 10601
Tuesday @ The Wicked Wolf 914-428-3144
166 Mamaroneck Ave. White Plains, NY 10601
Thursday @ Bob Hyland's Sport Page 914-437-8721
200 Hamilton Ave. #2 White Plains, NY 10601

Interview by Roger-Z (06/12/11) appeared in More Sugar and CT Sound, July 2011

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 backgrounds.

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:

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 grouping.

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.

2011 Roger-Z