In Defense of Type I Jamming

This seemed a lot more profound when I was driving to work last week and thought of it. But this draft isn’t going to get any better, so I’m posting it.

I think some of us don’t give great type I jamming enough credit. Type I jamming is referential–when listening to a jamband, the fan is constantly comparing each note being played to every prior version they can remember. To the uninitiated, there’s no difference between type I and type II jamming, because they don’t know the songs well enough to do this comparison and think “oh, they’re doing something different with this section” or “whoa, this is something entirely new.” See 2009-06-14 AC/DC Bag for an example of great Type I full band improvisation.

I know when I was really into Pgroove, I kept asking for them to start exploring type II jams. In retrospect, the spacier they got the less I enjoyed the shows. I really miss the tight, focused sound of their Last Call days. Sometimes the middle ground between Bela Fleck and the Flecktones’ “every note of this song will be the same tomorrow” and Phish at their spaciest is sweet. Pgroove used to inhabit the happy middle, so did AOD, so does DMB, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when Phish spontaneously plucks a bit of joy out of the ether, but you’ve got to endure a lot of bad with the good to get there. I’m not always down for that.

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One Comment on “In Defense of Type I Jamming”

  1. thom Says:

    I am there with ya, and I think it probably has to do with our development into older peoples than we used to be. I can’t even fathom listening to some of the trance electronica untz untz style crap I used to listen to. I am more in awe of focused musicianship and crafting a good tune than the delves into the ether. Although the ether can be a really good tap into the subconscious, meaning it can take you places you couldn’t think to get to, if that makes sense.

    So as far as newer Phish, it is just a fantastic time! Lots of songs played tight! Right on! But I still dig the jams. Lets get a type II 35 minute Gin under our belts, then we can take it or leave it.


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