Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

JAMS

Folk/dance group formed c'80, based in East Berlin. Personnel: Holger Lattke on saxophones and bass clarinet; Gabriele Meyer on fiddle; founder Jo Meyer on hurdy- gurdies, mandola, mouth-organ and vocals; Bernd Gesell on bass and percussionist Mario W]auu[rzebesser. JAMS (always upper case) began as a chance acronym: in pre-unification East Germany printed concert posters were rare; the majority were hand-drawn, and by chance a 'designer' ran three names together, Jo-Andy-Micha-Session, to create JAMS; although the others moved on Meyer kept the name. Its Platt Deutsch (Low German) meaning was 'jam' but it also had a jazzy, musical note to it. After contributing to several cassette albums, they had added Kathrin Pfeifer on accordion, and recorded Bastard ('Hybrid') '90 on West German Wundertute label; by the time of Bastardmusik '92 on the same label JAMS comprised Lattke, the Meyers, new bassist Jens Saleh and W]auu[rzebesser. Bastardmusik made several departures: 'Walzer Maqaber' (punning on 'waltz macabre' with a hint of maqam) explored the Turko- German connection; more importantly, the balance tipped in favour of original compositions incl. Gesell's 'Black Hole' and Pfeifer's 'Das Schaf' ('The Sheep'), winning them a greater international audience, helped by appearances at the Rudolstadt Tanz&FolkFest where Jo Meyer judged the newcomers competition. By '95 the group had metamorphosed into yet another lineup and was recording demos and promotional 'calling cards' for concerts and dances, contributing 'Naar Oostland' from their own promotional EP Tanzhaus to the anthology It's Only Kraut ... But I Like It '96; this lineup had Jo Meyer, Lattke, Wolfgang Meyering (mandolin and vocals), Michael 'Waki' Waterstradt (string bass) and Andreas Wieczorek (sax and vocals). Cathrin Pfeifer (having changed the spelling of her name) emerged as half a duo with percussionist Topo Gioia and album Pânico na Panificadora '95 on TonArt, and hitherto unreleased track 'Ethnuss', also on the Kraut compilation.

Gabriele Meyer emerged mid-'96 as part of multi-national women's folk group Freyja; others on the first (eponymous) album on Osmosys '97 were Jo Freya (saxes and clarinets), Belén De Benito on Spanish guitar, Anne-Lise Foy (hurdy-gurdy and vocals), Nicola Marsh (percussion) and Éva Vavrinecz (bass). JAMS returned with Fisch ('Fish') '97 on John Silver; by now Meyering had left and Snorre Schwartz added on drums and vocals, with Gabriele guesting; a new repertoire had a pronounced Low German feel. JAMS paved the way with goodwill and musicality for other German folk groups which broke out of the German-speaking sphere.