Beautiful Jam - Grateful Dead, theory, & the best 5 minutes from 50 years of music

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by -Hawk-, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

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    Click bait title sort of and for that I half heartedly apologize. If you anti-GD you probably won’t care, but if you’re a fan or open minded, read on....

    For this unfamiliar, Beautiful Jam was a special section of improv by GD that took place between the first playing of Wharf Rat and the second part of Dark Star in February 1971 in NY. The band didn’t name the jam (nerd fans did I assume) and at least one band member didn’t even recall it when the passage was played for him 25 years later (Lesh).

    What’s so interesting about it is that they never explored this jam or sound again, though it was arguably the most compelling five minutes of music they ever played.

    Here is the jam, truncated, which gives context on how it developed:



    Here is the full mash of songs/jams - Dark Star > Wharf Rat > (Beautiful Jam) Dark Star:



    If I haven’t lost you yet, great!

    A few things stand out to me, aside from the actual notes in Jerry’s lead lines.

    1) The amazing, biting tone of Jerry’s guitar and his dynamic control. His control and use of the feedback. Holy crap. How loud must it have been in that theater?

    2) Weir seems in many ways to facilitate everything with his chord choices and, as usual, lays down an amazing backdrop. It almost seems like he’s fighting Jerry out of going right back into the DS verse, Phil follows, and Jerry acquiesces. Right around 1:05 the drum beat changes and then at 1:20 you can hear when they all just seem to move to the same place (a completely new place) at the same time. Really, the transition out of Wharf Rat was a little choppy and then BAM!

    3) It’s painfully short. Well, for a GD fan at least. It seems like as quick as they ventured there, Jerry moves back where he wanted to go and into the next verse of DS.

    On a side note, that little lick Jerry pulls at 2:45 does it for me every time.

    Here’s a great, albeit long, discussion of the jam and how it might have come to be. I think it’s worth watching for fans and also for those just interested in improv or modal playing.

    He essentially says that the combo of Weir’s chord choices and Jerry’s focus on B Aeolian (as opposed to the usual A Mixolydian and E Dorian) it set up the lines that we hear. Of course, those are all the same thing, but they’re not!

    I dunno. Maybe y’all will hate it, but I’m bored waiting for my kid to get done with practice. Enjoy!

     
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  2. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Have you seen the video second man out? the story of Bob Wier a fantastic watch, I can totally relate to the times in history ,thanks for posting!

    the sad part is I bet they couldnt do the same performace twice the same way , but the jams were pure feel for the moment 100% and I love their grooves.
     
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  3. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I don't know about jams per se, but I can attest to the magic moments that the band regularly conjured up. This one came after a first set that was played pretty straight. Then about the second song in, stuff starts happening underneath it, and eventually it erupts into a full blown interaction between players, which seemed to almost include the audience members, as well. It sort of felt like a swell or swells. The first time you ride the wave of that energy, you feel like, "So that's what they're talking about." I'm not a religious guy at all, but I could see how someone might regard the jam as a religious experience. That's when I first experienced that Grateful Dead thing, in summer 1972.
     
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  4. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    For those not old enough to have experienced the late sixties and early seventies, extended improvisation was common in live shows, not just by the Bay Area bands, but most great bands, whether from America or Britain. At least, that was my experience at Bill Graham's venues (Fillmore, Winterland, Berkeley Community, Greek Theater, Frost Amphitheater on the Stanford Campus, Cow Palace). It was a magic time for music and culture in general (art, literature, etc.).
     
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  5. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

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    I’ve not seen that one, but there was one on Netflix called The Other One that was very good too.

    I’m not a stereotypical head in that I don’t listen to the band constantly, but I got this (and Bobby) on my mind listening to the early stuff from the So Many Roads box set yesterday. You have to actively listen to really appreciate what he’s doing. Easy to take that layer of the music for granted as a listener.
     
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  6. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

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    I read an article at some point that mentioned this particular jam as being a forbearer of the the great improvisation that came from the band in ‘72.

    I can understand why people don’t like the band, but it always bothers me on an intellectual level to hear phrases like “mindless noodling” or “self indulgent” come up. Those phrases just strike me as ignorant. It’s team effort that requires top notch listening and playing skills to do what they are doing here.
     
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  7. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I had a friend in college who had a massive collection of reel-to-reel Dead concert tapes in his dorm room. He'd play them all through his waking hours and keep a commentary going, like a golf announcer, about who was playing what and when, and which songs were coming, and when the change happened from one song to another. Also he'd keep you informed about the concert venue and when the show took place. He was my introduction to The Dead, and although I can't be called a Dead Head (not Deadicated enough), I've had a strong appreciation for them ever since.

    Your thread made me wonder what ever happened to my friend Steve. He was a good guy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
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  8. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

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    I have a friend like that! He’s even in a tribute band.

    Though I’m sure this thread sort of gives me that same look, I’m not what I’d consider a superfan. A fan for sure, but the band is just one of many I love.
     
  9. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    That is the one ,I watched on netflix, thank you , excellent vid!
     
  10. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, it's a pretty classic few minutes. I have trouble thinking of any specific bit of GD music as their best ever because there were so many that, if my receptors are open enough, hit me just as hard and move me just as profoundly. This morning there's very damn little that feels beautiful to me, but music is helping me cope... Just played and sang Morning Dew about five times in a row, loud.
     
  11. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

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    Hopefully the day got better, Ray [emoji869]
     
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