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A positive experience - so don't dispair
(02-23-2021, 05:50 PM)jazzerone Wrote: My 2 cents, as a JK jazz drummer... Have had a mixed bag of sessions.

Tuesday evenings I have a session with 5 players, 4 of us local (drums, bass, guitar, vocals), sax player in Chicago (the rest of us in New Mexico). This session has always been excellent, even though the Chicago guy is always in the red.

Wednesday afternoons is a 3 player session, 2 local (me and the local bass player from Tuesday nights), keyboard in California. This session always suffers from latency issues with the Cali player, although the other local player says he doesn't have any problems.

Thursday evenings is a 3 player session, all local (drums, bass, guitar from Tuesday nights). This is the best session, like we're in the same room, locked in.

Every other Saturday is a 3 player session, me and 2 California players, including the one from the Wednesday sessions. This session is impossible to play in. Latency is in the high 40's to 50's.

Here's my observations...

> Latency is obviously dependent on gear, and "weakest link" effect definitely comes into play, especially with distant players. On the Saturday sessions both the California players have gear latency around 11; by the time we add in network latency over that distance, the session falls apart.

> Drummers suffer the most from latency effects, simply because everyone is trying lock into our time. If we try to lock into their time, everything slows down in a circle that eventually has us playing Cherokee at 40bpm. The only way this works at all is for the drummer to hold time, even when it's not in sync with the others. This can lead to me playing anywhere from a sixteenth to half a bar ahead of what I'm hearing from other players in the session... that makes it really hard to have an enjoyable session, and is one of the reasons I think many JK sessions are reluctant to let drummers in.

> Interestingly, my local bassist, running slightly higher latency than me (4.3 vs. 6.6) says he has no issues with the California keyboard, even though their combined latency is as high as mine, and I am constantly have to push the time through the latency, as described above. This confirms, for me, that the other musicians are able to work with whatever latency they have because they're not trying to hold the time, they're trying to lock onto my time. If I reverse this and try to lock onto the bass player, we slow down dramatically.

CONCLUSION: Overall, I grade out these sessions at an A-minus overall. The local sessions are terrific, very much as described by the OP, like we're in the same room, all locked in. As we add in distant players things begin to erode, primarily because of gear latency with the remote players, but also because of the inherent issues of playing drums in these sessions.

Two other observations...

1. Jazz ballads hold together better than up tempo swing tunes. I think this is because there's more room between the 2/4 on ballads, where we can accommodate some latency, and less on the up tempo stuff, where we have much less time between beats, so the latency can easily eat up that time.

2. Latin jazz tunes = nearly impossible without minimal latency, because of all the syncopation required between drums and bass. There's simply no room to be off, even slightly, without the rhythm turning into an incomprehensible mess. Last week we tried several times to get through an up tempo samba with the California keyboard, couldn't get past the 3rd bar before it fell apart.
Excellent post... Thanks!

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RE: A positive experience - so don't dispair - by StuartR - 02-24-2021, 04:05 PM

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