Front Porch Pandemic Jazz Jam Rocks Neighborhood
NAMM Member Music Forecast and Greg Pardue began the Front Porch Pandemic Jazz Jam in the University City neighborhood of San Diego, California during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. With most people at home, the goal was to safely bring live music to neighborhood audiences and the musicians have vowed to continue their free weekly performances at least through the end of 2021 and possibly beyond.
The tradition continues each Thursday as small, socially distanced crowds gather to enjoy live jazz at the Front Porch Pandemic Jazz Jam featuring musicians Jack Hoffman (keyboard or drums), Roy Jenkins (bass), Greg Pardue (saxophone), Phil Marcus (guitar and vocals), and Albert Rubidoux III (drums). The standing lineup, alongside the occasional guest musician, performs classic jazz and swing from the Great American Songbook, along with Latin styles like bossa nova and samba. Audiences can expect to hear familiar tunes from musicians like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Cole Porter, and Sonny Rollins, along with newer tunes by artists like Nora Jones, Billy Joel, and Sting.
The porch sessions were born out of an overwhelming desire to resume playing live music after the group's regular gigs had been canceled, reports Pardue. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoffman had been hosting weekly improv workshops and jam sessions at his home for over 20 years. Approximately 15 years ago, Jenkins and Pardue joined the weekly meetup and Marcus joined them about four years ago. When it became apparent that it might be unsafe to jam in such close quarters, the group needed alternative means to keep up their tradition. “I had seen clips of other musicians performing from their front porch or driveway and realized I had room for some of us to safely jam, and even host an audience,” says Pardue. The University City community quickly embraced the idea, and the jam sessions have grown to include visitors from the entire county, other states, and even guest musicians from as far as Holland.
Each jam session guarantees something new and exciting as they feature improvised solos, improvisation with melodies, tempos, and rhythms. Since the band possesses an impressive repertoire with songs often arranged on the spot, the event is lovingly referred to as a jazz jam or workshop instead of a concert.
Audiences number from approximately 20 to 50 people, some simply listening from their yards, sitting in their cars, or bringing lawn chairs and lining the sidewalks and driveways. The informal nature of the weekly jams encourages people to come and go as they please and enjoy a picnic while enjoying the live jazz.
For more information about the front porch jams, visit https://www.kpbs.org/events/ongoing/front-porch-pandemic-jazz-jam/#, https://sandiego.jazznearyou.com/the-front-porch-pandemic-jazz-jam-at-16-00-on-may-6, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.