Jamming Types

Phish's improvisation includes a number of "types" among which aficionado fans distinguish. These are in addition to segues (where > and -> are not the same thing), theme-oriented jams around teases, rotation jams, and silent jams:

  • Type I jamming involves variations on a song's written notes and tempo, whereas Type II jamming involves additional variations on structures and keys. So named by John Flynn (on rec.music.phish), who put it: "I think Phish jamming falls into two types of jamming: 1) Jamming that is based around a fixed chord progression 2)  Jamming that improvises chord progressions, rhythms, and the whole structure of the music."  Charlie Dirksen followed up on this, noting that a version of a single Phish song might contain both types of jamming. The "experimental" Tweezers, like Bangor (11/2/94), Bozeman (11/28/94), Canandaigua (6/22/95), Mud Island (6/14/95), and Jones Beach (6/28/95), all basically contain both Type I and Type II, he wrote. "It is a safe bet that when the standard structure of a jamming tune is trancended improvisationally, there's Type II activity afoot. This is why, for example, the Dallas 7/25/97 Bathtub Gin's jam is basically a bit of Type II with a lot of Type I: this Gin jam is remarkable and stunning for Bathtub Gin, much unlike the Gin jams of olde (see also 8/13/93 Murat for example). Nevertheless, the Dallas Gin jam doesn't explore new territory, really, and generally sticks to an upbeat, funky, untypically-Gin groove, albeit really fierce at times."
  • Pornofunk, aka Type III, is the funkified "cow funk" sound that evolved evolved throughout 1997, and particularly on the summer and fall US tours, especially in Also Sprach, Cities, Ghost, Gumbo, and Wolfman's Brother. It is unclear who coined "type III" but it never was popularized like "type II" and "type I." This is because many feel that this is not a "type" of jamming, but something closer to a genre (funk), and that Types I and II jamming could occur within various contexts, of which Phish adopts many (rock, jazz, funk, reggae, folk, bluegrass, et al.). Charlie Dirksen posted (11/21/97) the following excursis of examples:

    • Almost every version of Bowie, Gin, Antelope, Tweezer, Stash, SOAM and Possum before 1993 contains Type I. I think every version of Julius is basically Type I (although see the 7/10/97 Julius for a version that Truly Truly rages, particularly the ending!). Chalk Dust is usually just Type I, but see the version from Ventura this past summer on 7/30/97Harry Hood is usually Type I, but see the 10/20/94 version for a truly Type II jam (Spokane 10/7/95 is still basically Type I, although the ending is more of a Type II sort, to be fair).
    • Listen to the Bozeman Tweezer (11/28/94) and the Bowies from the Orpheum (11/26/94) and Providence (12/29/94) for a Type II *party*. These versions contain glorious improv that should move you both spiritually and physically.
    • Suzy Greenberg is usually a strictly Type I song, but check out the 12/31/96 version for some non-typically-Suzy Type II (not quite Type III, imo). The jam out of 11/13/96 Target's Suzy is pretty damn serious, too.
    • Down with Disease (DWD) is usually Type I, but check out the 11/12/94 Kent version with Have Mercy in it. That's got some serious Type II happening. The Vegas 12/6/96 and Ball 8/16/96 versions of "Down with Disease" kick ass, but are *all* Type I as I hear 'em.
    • If memory serves, and it probably doesn't, the Twist Around from Phoenix might contain all three jamming types. (7/29/97) Ditto with the Ventua 7/30/97 Bowie, with the Cities in it. Possibly the Ghost from 7/3/97Nurnberg as well....
    • You Enjoy Myself is usually Type I, but the 12/9/95 Albany version has some Type II, in the form of a "silent jam" and basically a quadruple jam segment (jam>silent jam>jam>vocal jam). The 5/5/93 Albany version contains some major league Type II, as does the 10/31/95 version if memory serves, and several others. The 8/28/93 Greek YEM contains a severe Oye Como Va jam, but it is still basically Type I.
    • Coil is usually Type I, but check out 5/8/93 (nice ending!). Reba is usually Type I, but check out 8/17/93, I think it is, which has three jam segments basically. Maze is Type I.. and I can't think of any Maze off the top of my head that has some serious Type II in it (but I think 11/8/96 *smokes*, as does 12/8/94). Actually, maybe the recent Champaign Maze contains some Type II...
    • Antelope? Most old versions are 100% Type I. But 10/24/95 and the version from Phoenix (7/29/97) contain some Type II activity.
    • Gin used to be squarely Type I, as did SOAM and Stash. But check out the Orlando 11/14/95 Stash (must hear; hear at all costs; you suck if you haven't heard it), or the Bathtub Gins from 8/17 Went; 7/25/97 Dallas;12/29/95 Worcester;8/13/93 Murat; etc. The 12/5/95 and 5/20/94 Gins are killer versions, too, but perhaps not as Type II as the aforementioned versions. The SOAM from Deer Creek on 8/10/97 (with that Crimson jam) is siiiiiick, and definitely has some Type II activity. The Stash from Vegas 11/13 has some Type II jamming as well, if memory serves. Not to mention the Amsterdam Summer '97 Stash, which has an incredibly melodious Type II jam towards its end.
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