The Magic of Ten Minutes

10.12.10 - Broomfield (S. Short)

Once upon a time, Phish jams routinely stretched past the fifteen minute mark, exploring funk textures and various other musical realms before coming to rest. Beginning in 1994 with “Bowies” and “Tweezers,” but more earnestly developing during the groove era of 1997-2000, the long jam became a fixture at Phish shows. Four-song sets, dance marathons, loose ambient experiments, meandering psychedelia; all of these were parts and parcels of bygone eras in Phish history. These days, while the band still drops jams that push fifteen minutes every now and again, highlights of fall shows have most often been their more compact ten to twelve minute excursions. A growing trend of musical density that was born last fall is now coming to fruition with directed, collaborative playing that continues to hit the sweet spot.

One of the most interesting parts of these compact jaunts is how much longer they feel in concert. Bombarding the audience with layers of musical ideas, these living pieces of improvisation create a time warp, stretching a ten-minute period to something that feels much longer. With seemingly effortless collaboration, and without over-thinking, the band is diving into their pieces with urgency, making good things happen right away. This is not to say Phish is being impatient – they are not – they have honed their improvisational conversations and are simply taking less time into the meat of jams. Playing with a precision and tightness unseen since in eras, the newest Phish music has a distinctly retro vibe while simultaneously pushing themselves into the future.

Fall 2010

There have only been two (non-“YEM”) jams that have reached fifteen minutes thus far – Broomfield’s “Ghost” and Charleston’s “Crosseyed and Painless” – and the latter only got there with two lyrical reprises and three segments of improv. More than ever, with current Phish, time is nothing and music is everything. The most intense and impressive jams of the last five shows have landed smack dab in the nine to twelve minute range, something that is always a surprise upon download. There is no need to list all of the highlights that fit this framework, for they are plentiful and everyone has the tapes. But the point is that, now, Phish can be both exploratory and concise in one jam. Some obvious examples are Broomfield’s “Twist,” “Split,” and “Carini,” and Charleston’s “Disease,” “Sand,” and “Tweezer.” The band has made powerful musical statements in far shorter times, increasing the impact of each individual jam on the psyche.

8.5.10 (W. Rogell)

Trust me, I would still love to see the band drop twenty minute jams a la The Greek’s “Light” or Alpine’s “Disease > What’s the Use?” and I’m sure that they will; it just doesn’t matter any more. Phish can just as easily play outstanding shows laced with ten to twelve minute jams a la Broomfield’s second and third nights. With the intensity of their communication better than it has been since their return, these dense pieces are only becoming more interesting. With five down and nine to go, it will be interesting to track to watch the course Phish jams over the second two-thirds of tour and to see if this trend continues.


Notes From the Road: As the scene shifts from South to North tonight, so does the mode of transport from plane to car. Tonight’s show in Augusta, Maine is followed by an all-night cannonball run to Utica, hence, I’m not sure when my review will be posted.

Recent Halloween Rumors:

Frank Zappa – “We’re Only In It For the Money

King Crimson – “Lark’s Tongue In Aspic(w/ Robert Fripp on second guitar)

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1,154 Responses to “The Magic of Ten Minutes”

  1. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Great post, Miner.

    Re; jams seeming longer in person

    I was shocked when I saw the 5-minute timestamp on the JB Timber

  2. Matso Says:

    @ type III –

    Great read. I also highly recommend this one (it’ll give you the psychological underpinings for what Mike is always going on about, including in that new Relix interview, as well as how meditation fits into the whole thing)

  3. lastwaltzer Says:


    Halfway to the moon is a great example of Frissels tone. I guess most of the whale stuff has a touch of it.

    I LOVE his tone, especially on his recent stuff. The History, Mystery album. Really great arrangements with a string section, the way frisell plays with the strings sounds great.


    Frissel is gonna be in evanston next month.

  4. Guyute711 Says:

    ESPN has jumped the shark.

  5. jdub Says:

    Great post Miner and perfect timing as the NE portion of the tour gets under way and throws all expectations to the wind. These real time short and dense jams have created an interesting affect in the live setting. They force the listener to take hold of the moment and submerge into the musical forest without holding back.

    For me, the time warp is created not only because of the intensity and speed that these jams are created but also cause in the back of my mind I know this moment of bliss may pass before I know it. But I get so excited cause it could also be the beginning of a landmark journey in the vein of Greek Light or JB # Line. Using Brims Carini as an example cause that moment is so etched in my brain, they drop into that ambient groove so quickly and beautifuly after reving you up for 5 minutes that you just start swimming without any effort. Was it going to peter out quickly like so many ambient segues or go off into the stratosphere like Greek Light? Ultimately it was so good it didn’t matter and when Fish’s taps started for Bowie a communal gasp errupted from the crowd as we prepared for launch again. The rest of that set played with the moment and fucked with ones expectations till the end, capping it with a group Melt. Why I love that set so much even with the Joy and ’89.

    This is perfect Phish for me and they are only going to develop this to higher levels of intensity as the leaves change colors.

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    thing about phish funk in 97 is that the best of the funk jams (7/23 ghost, 8/10 Cities, 11/19 Wolfman’s, 11/21 halley’s, 12/6 Tweezer to name a few) really only have pockets of funk and are all end up in at transcendent phish space sort of realm .. and others of the best jams (2/17 DWD>Carini>Taste>DWD, Went Gin, 11/23 gin) are not really funk per se at all. Of course there are exceptions (dayton tube)

  7. andrewrose Says:

    Matso shouldn’t you be getting your nest in order? 😉

    I agree with the less notes more soul. The only thing I’d like to see a bit more of is that middle ground between soloing and texture, the rhythmic stuff that can still lead a jam. In his more inspired 2.0 moments (2/28/03 Tweezer, 6/20/04 Twist), there are moments where he’s not soloing necessarily, but he is leading the band with melodic ideas..changing the course of a jam and generally launching it into outer space.

    I do like the more concise playing and even listening back to some of the more heralded 97 stuff lately, I’ve found myself getting a little bored at times. That said, I have no probelms with the band coming out and opening Set II with a 25 minute Tweezer or Gin. It’s not like they haven’t sculpted 30 minute jams that are engaging from the first to the last moment. (And yes, I’d prefer that to a 12 minute Ghost->Joy).

  8. Jtran Says:

    Agreed on that #Line

    Couldn’t believe how “short” it actually was

  9. negev79 Says:

    Good morning board! Sounds like the tour is going swimmingly so far. heh. I have been so swamped with work, I haven’t had any board time or couch tour time. Haven’t downloaded any new shows either, and most likely won’t before AC. Quite a contrast with pre-Greek and Indio last year. I am wondering how, if at all, the involuntary hiatus will affect my headspace when I’m there. We shall see! I’ll certainly need a vacation from my real life more than I did this summer or last year. I’m getting excited – finally have all my AC tickets in hand.

    See you on the Boardwalk.

  10. BTB Says:

    SC2 saw the return of Trey’s CLEAN TONE. Also, a little more edge with his tube screamer pedals and other dirty effects. It was refreshing.

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    @t3 I read that book on a rec from here….

    I was slightly offput by some of the dude’s Scientific tone and generally dismissive attitude towards spirituality etc but overall definitely a great read. His tone was likely a product of the timing of the book too (1991).

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ESPN has jumped the shark

    ESPN took the shark, jumped over it, then showed the replay of it for two weeks, then had retired shark jumpers talk about why they jumped it for another few days. then they did an outside the lines on it to talk about the effects of shark jumping on inner city youth.

  13. c0wfunk Says:

    “As Miner has noted, there is so much more to fall 1997 than the funk.”


  14. c0wfunk Says:


  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, that s the “failing” of the book. there are follow up books on the main topic that get more to the root of it, but he is definitely taking the scientific approach to experiential flow.

  16. Jtran Says:

    I think the funk sound/vamping of 97 led to those huge transcendant jams because the vamp allowed space, and the space allowed thoughts to develop more slowly, and in the one we still talk about today, fully.

    I think good examples of what I’m tryign to say are the 11/22 Halley’s and 4/3/98 Roses…start as funk vamps, then slowly move into some really amazing music in their latter halfs. I’d be willing to bet this place is harder to get to going into the music at fall 95 pace, where the more percussive, freight train sound seemed to happen a lot.

    So, yea cow funk was sweet, but the places it allowed the most transcendant music to get to were what really made 97 special (and the fact that it is totally different then other Phish music)

  17. Matso Says:

    @ lastwaltzer

    I saw Frisell about a year ago here in London with Joey Baron on drums and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. They were doing arrangements of Frisell’s stuff. It was amazing – Baron in the middle of an orchestra and all this ethereal playing from Frisell, adding this incredible propulsive rhythm. Baron’s infectious enthusiasm (imagine him and Trey in the same room?) totally inspired and loosened up the orchestra and Frisell’s dream-like tones enveloped all of it.

  18. lastwaltzer Says:

    new halloween pick:

    A Rainbow In Curved Air – Terry Riley

  19. Matso Says:

    Sorry – the rhythm came from Baron of course. Not sure that was clear.

    @ andrewrose – the nest is in order and so is work. Hence why I can afford to hang out here!

  20. lastwaltzer Says:


    That sounds incredible. Any chance it was recorded?

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    night 1 done about to dive into SC2 🙂

    I can see why people thought this show fell off mikes was ferocious and the fall into horse was smooth, but a stand alone series of mexicuz paug suz slave char0 isn’t going to win a lot of fans.. And Trey sort of bails right at the peak of weekapaug in the middle of a cool little run and then runs it back to the groove. But tomorrow is another day…

    Really need to get some work done now we’ll see how it goes.
    Could you guys stop being interesting for a little while, please?

  22. Matso Says:

    @ lastwaltzer –

    It was recorded for BBC Radio 3 ( but no longer available for download.

    It’s probably floating around out there somewhere though, so if you find it, let me know!

  23. Nagarjuna Says:

    @matso – really like your historical take from the last page.

    Also Baron is one of my all time fave drummers. Seeing him plenty was a great part of living in NYC

  24. kenny powers Says:

    seeing those intense pictures of CK5’s magic on Phish’s FB page is getting me really excited for some indoor Phish.

  25. lastwaltzer Says:


    In searching for it, I found this:

    London, UK 11/15/05
    01 Improvisation #1
    02 Across The Universe
    03 Improvisation #2
    04 Beautiful Boy
    05 You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
    06 Improvisation #3
    07 # 9 Dream
    08 Revolution
    09 In My Life
    10 Julia
    11 Please Please Me
    12 Come Together
    13 Nowhere Man

    Gonna have to download that when I get home.

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