If I ever get the chance to call in to the Big Steve Show, I would ask him how the thematic jams developed. These are the instrumentals and jams that reappear or become so attached to a song, they become the song. Some examples are, the ’74 outro jam in Eyes of the World, the Mind Left Body Jam (72-74 Dark Stars), and the jam in Let it Grow. The jam in Let it Grow is special because like the title states, the band let it grow. Over the years it took on different structures and feeling.
The chord progression remained relatively the same; D major, A minor, and E minor with Sevenths and chromatics scattered throughout. The stand alone Let it Grows played in the 80’s had a distinct progression when the E minor came around. It is a very recognizable ascending climb (or bounce) up the first three notes of the E minor scale. Click here to listen to the jam from JFK ‘89 when the E minor bounce begins at 8:06. That bounce resumes after the last chorus at 10:40. That progression, however, was not played when Let it Grow was performed as part of Weather Report Suite. Instead, the rhythm of the A minor and E minor sections was played with special emphasis on beats seven and eight (if you count it in 4/8). Click here to listen to the jam at Winterland ’74 as the A minor begins at 4:51. After the last chorus that same flavor returns with the E minor outro jam. There is no E minor bounce like the 80s.
Surprise! A third progression appeared for a short period when the band inserted a drum break before the last chorus. These versions were played in ’76 and have a remarkably different flavor. The jam begins in D major and then moves to A minor like we would expect. But during the A minor section, the band alternates up to F major and then back to A minor several times. This creates a very comforting tension in the music. Click here to listen to the Orpheum Theater jam from ’76 as the F major is introduced at 5:50. The progression stops quick on an F major and then bang: drums. No E minor; at least, not until after the last chorus and again with special emphasis on the seven and eight; not the bounce.
We have been mindful to pay the proper respect to the Let it Grow jam. Click here to listen to our Weather Report Suite played at 118 North on 12/4/2021. During that jam we stayed true to the period. Click here to listen to our Let It Grow>Drums>Let It Grow from Blueprint on 9/18/2021. The F major begins at 6:36. On 6/5/2021 at Artifact Brewing we played an example of an ‘80s-like Let it Grow jam with the E minor bounce. Click here to listen.