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Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...

January 2013

January 2013
By Published: January 3, 2013
Dear Mr. P.C.:

I was playing at a club in town, a pretty fancy place, the gig all the guys in town want. On the break a pretty woman in the audience came up to me and complimented my playing. So far so good! But then she asked if I play professionally! What should I have said? John G., Denver



Dear John:

You should be flattered! Obviously she was attracted to you and just wanted to make sure you have some other, more viable source of income. Like being a realtor, or an insurance salesman, or whatever it is you actually do for a living.



Dear Mr. P.C.:

On a recent trip into the city I attended a master class by a well-known jazz guitarist. At one point he claimed that it is our limitations that truly define us. I have read about this kind of thing before so the idea was not entirely new to me, yet hearing him say it so clearly was inspiring. I really would like your opinion on this as I have more limitations than most and feel ready to take advantage of that in a big way. I gave notice at the local middle school where I teach P.E. and have packed my drums but am now having doubts. Please help! Walter "Sig" Mathews, Milepost 17, State Route 4, Tulelake, CA



Dear Sig:

Milepost 17—I've totally been there! It wasn't in Tulelake, but I remember it vividly. It was just outside of Eagle, Idaho, a few miles before the VFW hall where I had a gig. Inside the hall, in the men's bathroom, they had decorated the urinal with a drawing of Jane Fonda's face, so that each user had no choice but to direct the stream into her mouth. I remember wondering: Was her acting really so bad? Distracted by that thought, and rushing to make the downbeat, I started urinating before I realized what I was doing. Could I stop, mid-stream? Hardly—I don't have superpowers! But I've never forgiven myself, to this day.

Why was I urinating so hurriedly? You see, my arrival at the Elks club—and with it, my subsequent defiling of Jane's image—had been delayed at Milepost 17, where I struck a deer. Was it my fault or the deer's? Oh, how I'd love to blame the deer! Then I'd at least have a partner in the blame for what I did to Jane. But, alas, I'll never know.

The poor bloodied deer, involuntarily quivering in the harsh glare of my headlights. The crude, glistening drawing of Jane Fonda, desecrated by an endless procession of war-hardened veterans... That's my Milepost 17, a nightmare that will haunt me to my dying day. Your Milepost 17 apparently involves some light wordplay about limitations and definitions. Forgive me, Sig, if I have trouble pretending to care.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Everyone's telling me that in this day and age, at this point in my career, I can't take my career to the next level unless I have a video. Is that true? Can't Afford Video Engineers



Dear CAVE:

It's absolutely true! The video they're referring to, of course, is my new instructional DVD, Socially Conscious Licks for the Two-Five-One.

Never before have jazz musicians had access to lines specifically crafted to make the world a better place. Well, the time has come!

My program is based on five essential scales and modes:
  • Holistic whole tones!
  • Peaceful Pentatonics!
  • Fair-Trade Phrygian!
  • Multicultural Mixolydian!
  • Inclusive Ionian!


Five intervallic approaches:
  • Free-range fourths!
  • Feminist fifths!
  • Sustainable sevenths!
  • Occupied octaves!
  • New Age ninths!


And three broader concepts:
  • Developing solos organically!
  • Recycling used licks!
  • Creating greener blues!


As with so many of today's theory-based jazz systems, Socially Conscious Licks for the Two-Five-One might not actually sound any different to your listeners. But knowing you're saving the planet will make you feel a difference!

And isn't feel what jazz is all about?

Have a question for Mr. P.C.? Ask him.


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