So you live in Fredericksburg, and you think it’s a “jazz desert,” with the closest clubs like Blues Alley 60 miles away in DC or like Keystone Corner 100 miles away in Baltimore?

Think again.

Jazz is alive and well in Fredericksburg. The Fredericksburg Jazz Collective (FJC) is a nonprofit organization that hosts an open mic jam session at the Colonial Tavern every second Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. The FJC musicians carry on the tradition and creative energy of jazz greats Trane, Miles, Monk, Herbie, and Stan right here in the ‘burg.

The January Jam on January 11 at the Colonial Tavern and found Kyle Smith’s band Superlocrain hosting the session. Kyle is the drummer and has both recorded on a multitude of albums and produced several recordings that have received radio airplay on WGRQ 95.9.

Several FJC jazz musicians showed up for the Jam this month. This loosely organized group consisted of: Luke Gray – bass, Geoffrey Dean – keys, Patrick Lynch – guitar, Skyler Moon – drums, Becky Stewart – flute/vocals/keys, “Slam” Stewart – drums, Jorge Cruz – guitar, Limon Perez – congas, Steve Rabson – keys, and Mark Freemantle – guitar.

If you have never been to a Jazz Club or jam session before, the process is quite simple. You come to the club, find a table, order a drink and some snacks, and listen. However, FJC jams differ in one way – you can bring your instrument and get on stage with the musicians and find your chops.

Kyle’s band opened the show with “Chameleon” a Herbie Hancock composition with Kyle on drums, Patrick Lynch on guitar, Geoffrey Dean on the electric keyboard, and Luke Gray on bass guitar. This tune leads off with Luke’s definitive bass line that is instantly recognizable to any jazz fan. It follows Patrick’s steady guitar chords and Geoffrey’s synthesizer all while Kyles’s sticks provide the back-beat. A solid 7 minutes of fun.

Another highlight of the evening was Becky Stewart’s vocals and flute on “Girl from Ipanema,” the song made famous by Jioa Gilberto and Stan Getz. Becky’s vocals are sweet and soothing with the right touch of Latin influence coming from the conga play of Limon Perez, and Becky’s husband “Slam” Stewart on drums. You could feel the warm breezes of Brazil on a blustery January night in FXBG.

The Jam went on with the local musicians singing in on the clipboard to play their favorite jazz standards. There are over 200 song options in the song book available at the Jam. The set list for this Jam included a soulful performance of Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t,” Miles Davis’s “All Blues,” and John Coltrane’s “Impressions.” You are in good hands with the FJC Jam MC, Pat Bergin, a radio personality for over 40 years and a great host for the evening. Pat coordinates the sign-in sheet for stage time, intros the songs and musicians, and he will even take a turn on the drums before the night is over.

Mark your calendar for the February 15th Jam at the Colonial Tavern. Come and see this creative and talented group perform your jazz favorites and maybe even join them.

Reviewed by Chuck Sekinger

Want to go? The next Jam is February 15 at the Colonial Tavern – 406 Lafayette Blvd in downtown Fredericksburg.

For details visit: The Fredericksburg Jazz Collective

Chuck Sekinger is the treasurer of the Fredericksburg Jazz Collective and a jazz enthusiast.