All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

1

Easy Swing, Fours and More, Medicinal Jazz

Easy Swing, Fours and More, Medicinal Jazz
Mr. P.C. By

Sign in to view read count
Dear Mr. P.C.:

I just played a gig, and one of the charts said the feel should be "Easy Swing." What does that mean? The bassist thinks he was supposed to play in two, but I think it would have said "In Two" if that was the case. I think he was supposed to walk, but he says the charts would have said "In Four" or "Walking Bass." Please settle our argument.

—Swingless In Seattle


Dear SIS:

Was it a hard tune? The arranger probably knew that musicians like you would mess it up, and he didn't want the audience to notice. "Easy Swing" tells you to play a hard song as if it's easy.

Such an elegant solution! With different instructions you'd flounder, but playing with an "Easy Swing" feel you'll sound like you haven't a care in the world—like the tempo isn't mm = 300, like there aren't a bunch of Coltrane substitutions, and like the rest of the band isn't vibing you.

Unfortunately, for some musicians that sort of blustery self-confidence just doesn't come naturally. If you're one of them, don't despair: You can get that same "Easy Swing" feel by pounding a couple of stiff drinks right before the count-off.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

When we got to trading fours on a tune last night, it went like this:

sax—drums
piano—drums
sax—drums
piano—drums
piano...

The pianist bogarted my four! (I'm the saxophonist)

So what was I supposed to do? Play anyway, and try to play louder than him? Steal his next four?

—Jeff, Sacramento


Dear Jeff:

Fours are widely accepted currency in the jazz community. They can be saved or sold but are more typically swapped; this is the origin of the phrase "trading" fours. The same marketplace also includes eights and, among wholesale distributors, choruses. Musicians prefer to traffic in fours because they're the lowest denomination commonly traded; due to inflation the once popular twos—the pennies of the jazz world—are seldom seen today.

There's no reason you can't get your fours back next time you work with that pianist; just be sure to keep your eye on the drummer, who can easily render any trade invalid. To those of us supporting Fair Trade policies, drummers who drop beats are the discount brokers of the jazz economy: By undercutting their bandmates and promoting an inferior product, they're no better than your local Walmart.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

So the election happened and now a lot of people in the jazz world are upset. Can jazz itself be a healing force?

—Polly Cy


Dear Polly:

Absolutely! And that probably explains why the jazz audience is so small—they get better and move on.

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Sitting In It, Low Blow, Always a Bridesmaid Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...
Sitting In It, Low Blow, Always a Bridesmaid
by Mr. P.C.
Published: July 20, 2018
Read On the Download; Presto, the Audience Disappears!; Showboaters Get the Clap Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...
On the Download; Presto, the Audience Disappears!;...
by Mr. P.C.
Published: April 13, 2018
Read Rushing Collusion, Bits and P.C.s, Ave Maracas Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...
Rushing Collusion, Bits and P.C.s, Ave Maracas
by Mr. P.C.
Published: February 8, 2018
Read Best of Mr. P.C. 2017 Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...
Best of Mr. P.C. 2017
by Mr. P.C.
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Practice Makes Imperfect, The Pursuit of Nothingness, Challenging the Originalists Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...
Practice Makes Imperfect, The Pursuit of Nothingness,...
by Mr. P.C.
Published: October 26, 2017
Read Bits and PCs, The Cosmic Loop, Fake Gigs Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...
Bits and PCs, The Cosmic Loop, Fake Gigs
by Mr. P.C.
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "On the Download; Presto, the Audience Disappears!; Showboaters Get the Clap" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... On the Download; Presto, the Audience Disappears!;...
by Mr. P.C.
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Rushing Collusion, Bits and P.C.s, Ave Maracas" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Rushing Collusion, Bits and P.C.s, Ave Maracas
by Mr. P.C.
Published: February 8, 2018
Read "Best of Mr. P.C. 2017" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Best of Mr. P.C. 2017
by Mr. P.C.
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Practice Makes Imperfect, The Pursuit of Nothingness, Challenging the Originalists" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Practice Makes Imperfect, The Pursuit of Nothingness,...
by Mr. P.C.
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "Sitting In It, Low Blow, Always a Bridesmaid" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Sitting In It, Low Blow, Always a Bridesmaid
by Mr. P.C.
Published: July 20, 2018
Read "Impressions of Monterey Jazz Festival 2017: MJF At 60" Live Reviews Impressions of Monterey Jazz Festival 2017: MJF At 60
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Pat Martino Quintet at Chris' Jazz Cafe" Live Reviews Pat Martino Quintet at Chris' Jazz Cafe
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center" Live Reviews Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "The talking tabla of Trilok Gurtu at Folkclub" In Pictures The talking tabla of Trilok Gurtu at Folkclub
by Antonio Baiano
Published: March 31, 2018
Read "Dan Kinzelman: Stream of Consciousness" Interviews Dan Kinzelman: Stream of Consciousness
by Neri Pollastri
Published: April 30, 2018
Read "2017 Jazz in the Valley Jazz Festival" In Pictures 2017 Jazz in the Valley Jazz Festival
by Richard Conde
Published: December 6, 2017