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The Gig: Pump Up the Jamz

On one level it wasn’t an unusual scene: Nicholas Payton and James Carter carving up rhythm changes on trumpet and tenor saxophone, respectively. Beside them: the indubitable bassist Christian McBride and the irrepressible drummer Roy Haynes. Boppish head, medium-bright clip. Snap, crackle. Crescendo. Applause.

But this wasn’t a marquee booking at Birdland, or an all-star festival special. The musicians were at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, appearing by invitation at the seventh annual Jammy Awards. Their liaison, Page McConnell, formerly of the jam-band Phish, was at the piano and technically at the helm. For many of the several thousand fans gathered in the name of the Jam, the tune was familiar as “Magilla,” a McConnell composition from A Picture of Nectar, Phish’s 1992 major-label debut.

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Originally Published
Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the director of editorial content for WBGO and a longtime contributor to JazzTimes, which published 125 installments of his column “The Gig” between 2004 and 2017. For 12 years, he was a critic for The New York Times; prior to that, he wrote about jazz for the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper, and several other publications. He is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (2018) and the co-author of George Wein’s autobiography Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (2003).