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Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum

Accompanying 101, For Your Consideration, Bandstand Violence

Accompanying 101, For Your Consideration, Bandstand Violence
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Accompanying 101

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I'm a pianist and have a question about reading charts. If I get a lead sheet that includes a measure with a very basic written rhythm in addition to the chord changes, how should I approach it? Should I:

1) Play the chords in the specified rhythm, and play nothing else;

2) Play the rhythmic hits in my left hand and comp and/or play fills with my right as I would otherwise; or

3) Not play the rhythm explicitly, but look for ways to complement the bassist and drummer while they're playing it?

I had a singer yell at me for picking option 2 (she wanted 1), but the rhythm looked so basic I thought it would sound stupid if I just played it just naked.

I don't think anyone has addressed this issue, so please be the first.

—Antonio


Dear Antonio:

And while you're turning her backing track into a piano concerto what, exactly, becomes of her choreographed dance moves?

For Your Consideration

Dear Mr. P.C.:

"For your consideration...." Those three words are flooding my Facebook feed this time of year. So an artist has been nominated for a Grammy by his label or even just a friend, which puts him in the book with 1,000 other artists who also want my consideration. Big deal!

Do they really think that kind of post will win them a Grammy? Or are they trying to look important, knowing most people have no idea what a minuscule honor the big book really is?

—Fed Up With Fake News


Dear Fed:

You've obviously given it plenty of consideration, which is exactly what they asked for. I don't know how to put this nicely: you've been played.

Bandstand Violence

Dear Mr. P.C.:

When a jazz musician likes another player's solo, I've heard them say (as a compliment) "Killing!" or "Crushing!"

Why the violence? Who or what is being killed or crushed?

—Conscientious Objector


Dear Conscientious:

Who knows? Maybe the rest of the band is being killed, maybe the notes are being crushed, maybe the music itself is being murdered. Since YouTube has turned "amazing" into a musical aesthetic, playing jazz has become an athletic event. Throw in the competition for fewer and fewer gigs, and some form of violence is inevitable.

One thing we know for sure: The safest people are the audience members, who are now protected under the Endangered Species act.

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

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