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

Inspired by the cutting edge advice of Abigail Van Buren, the storied bass playing of Paul Chambers, and the need for a Politically Correct doctrine for navigating the minefields of jazz etiquette, I humbly offer my services.

January 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I was driving on a highway yesterday, and the person in front of me was going way too slow. But I couldn't pass her because there were double lines on the road and lots of curves. So instead I drove right up to her bumper and tailgated her until she drove at the correct speed. What I'm wondering is, can I do something like that to a drummer who is dragging?

Best of Mr. P.C. 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: Why is it that whenever I go to a jam session, the best players are the meanest? Does that mean that I have to become a jerk if I want to get good? --Still A Nice Guy Dear SANG: Sounds like you're buying into some very common but misguided notions of “best." Just what is it that you admire about these “jerks"? That they play comfortably and melodically at ...

November 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I got offered a low paying gig through an agent who's been screwing musicians royally for years. What should I do? --T.W., Atlanta Dear T.W.: Think about it: His 15% cut of a low-paying gig is just a fraction of the 15% other agents make booking high-end ones. Yet he books it anyway, taking a passionate stand for the underclass. He's so committed to the little guy ...

October 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I was playing piano in a building lobby where I perform regularly. A woman walked past the piano and discreetly left something at the far end (it's a grand piano). When I finished the song, I walked around the piano to see what she'd left. Turned out it was her trash! I'm a little old and out of touch so I'm wondering: Is that okay nowadays? --Don't Understand Selfish Treatment ...

September 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C. I play five nights a week in a restaurant, and there's a sign right at the entrance that says “Restrooms are for Customer Use Only." My problem is that it's a four-hour gig, and sometimes I have to go really bad by the end. Would it be out of line for me to ask the management if I could use the restroom once a night? --John Dear John:

August 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I work with a guitarist who I mistakenly thought was playing wrong notes when he took a solo. When I asked him about it, he explained to me that he was anticipating the chord change. My question is, do you have to anticipate a chord change in the same song? Or is it cooler to anticipate a chord in a song that you might be thinking of playing in the next set? --Wanting ...

July 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I hate my playing almost all the time. What's worse is I don't seem to hate it any less even though I'm getting better. At least I think I'm getting better, when I'm not busy hating my playing. Is there something wrong with me? --Having Absolutely Terrible Esteem Dear HATE: Instead of getting lost in self-loathing, try to focus on the times when you don't hate your playing. What ...

June 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I knew a singer once who couldn't read a note of music. But when she got lost she'd go over to the pianist and start pointing at his music as if he was lost and she was helping him. She even did it on TV once so everyone watching thought it was his fault. My question is for him, I'm wondering what he was supposed to do. --Singer's Tyranny Oppresses Pianist

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