Faking Bad

Faking Bad
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I'm in a band with a bassist who wants to rehearse every week. Considering that all we do when we have a gig is fake standards, isn't he being a little OCD?

—Kevin A., Raleigh

Dear Kevin:

The hardest thing about faking standards is that there too many directions you can take. It can be overwhelming.

When you rehearse faking a standard, anything you play is automatically ruled out for performances. It wouldn't be "faking" if you played it the same in concert, right?

That means the more you rehearse faking a tune, the more possibilities you eliminate. Eventually you'll be able to fake with full confidence and complete authority, knowing that of all the paths you might have taken, there's only one left.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

What do you think of guys who play the same solo every time they play a song? Isn't jazz supposed to be about improvising?

—Improviser, NYC

Dear Imp:

Do you know how hard it is to play the exact same solo over and over again? It takes flawless memorization in advance and perfection in delivery. All this while the rhythm section, without warning, varies what they play! Still, the brave soloist stands resolute against the trio's spontaneous messiness, determined for the audience to hear his solo just as he conceived and practiced it.

Contrast that with improvising artists who just make up their solos as they go. Even though their playing is always flawed, they get a free pass because there's nothing to compare the solo to, no right or wrong, just a sliding scale created and enforced by others who share their love of imperfection.

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