Indie and newbie musicians alike can flex their chops and get honest critiquing from their peers on a Facebook page devoted to jazz artists working their craft. Called “Jam of the Week” or JOTW, it’s run by trumpet player Farnell Newton, whose own signature sound is smooth, chill and blends in some hip hop and soul.
Followers can either participate by uploading their own videos based on the designated tune or react to the other musicians on it. Thanks to Newton’s lead, the atmosphere is friendly and civility rules.
This is a much-needed service to jazz lovers everywhere. Fans can show him some love by checking out his newest CD called “Lofi Nights” at https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/farnellnewton112.
When and why did you start up Jam of the Week?
It just started as a way to connect my brass-playing friends on Instagram almost 6 years ago. Then it started to spread onto Facebook, Twitter and all over the internet by all kinds of musicians.
I was kind of freaking out and brainstorming with my wife what am I going to do with all these musicians tagging and posting videos and Jam of the Week was born.
Check out the origin story here: https://soundcloud.com/user-961182067/1-the-origin-story
Your rules are pretty simple, and I especially like how you ask people to be constructive if they don’t like something they hear. How is that working out?
It has worked out great. Every once in a while, I have to go in and remind people to treat everyone with respect regardless of anyone’s level of musicianship. Sometimes I have to ban people from the group who are overly negative, sexist and just plain downright awful.
How far ahead of time do you have your JOTW scheduled? Do you try to vary the subgenre or period a song comes from?
I try to keep it different and with many variations but I usually think of the next jam the night before or early in the morning. You can always tell when I don’t have an idea…….that’s when it becomes Poll time.
Do you get requests from musicians who just learned a piece and want to post their own cover?
All the time. I also get people who never post but practice each week and are just appreciative of having such a group around.
Is JOTW a labor of love or does it help you with your own creativity as a trumpet player?
It is a labor of love but it keeps me connected with so many musicians across the country. Musicians like Rob Araujo, Joel Ross and many others were a part of the group when it first started and they were much younger. Now these musicians are world-known for their music and collaborations. I only have one partnership in Jam of the Week and it is with DANSR, the North American Distributor of Vandoren woodwind products and Denis Wick Brass mouthpieces and accessories. I have been performing on Denis Wick for 11 years and they have always been supportive of my music career and the JOTW community.
You’ve played with some of the greats – George Clinton, Jill Scott, Stevie Wonder, and others. Is jazz in a new heyday today?
Jazz is always current and keeps pace with all the new trends. You just might not know it but jazz musicians are almost in every big touring group around the world from Karl Denson in The Rolling Stones or Jeff Coffin and Rashawn Ross in Dave Matthews or Arnetta Johnson, Lessie Vonner and Crystal Torres in Beyoncé’s band. We will always be hipped and will always be able to support all genres and styles.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have a couple of new projects releasing from Posi-tone records in 2020 as well as many Lofi hip hop and jazz hop projects with my label NWSoulAcademy. I’m always mentoring musicians worldwide and being active in my children’s lives.
Why did you start the Northwest Soul Academy?
Really it’s just a platform to help musicians get where they want to get musically and in business. A friend might want to know how to start a T-shirt printing business, work on a new release, put together a music licensing project for TV commercials, etc. I’ve done so much in my life and I feel I have a lot of skills to help my community and that is how Northwest Soul Academy was born.
Based on JOTW, are musical tastes changing?
Musical tastes are always changing…I remember when the J Dilla/Glasper style of hip hop and soul was very influential in jazz on Jam of the Week. I encourage everyone to always post the jam in their own personal way. To add the music they love no matter if it is hip hop, Death Metal, rock, country, etc.
What are your plans for it?
I just want to keep building it and connecting musicians worldwide. Creating the new website and starting to do interviews with musicians to help inspire others is an obtainable goal.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/groups/jamoftheweekgroup.