535

February 2010

Mr. P.C. By

Sign in to view read count
Because, as you've guessed, although their voices have changed and they long ago sprouted facial hair, these jazz musicians are juvenile, insecure, and self-involved, and will seize any opportunity to feel slighted. Wild applause at the end of a tune might lead an artist to wonder why his own solo didn't get a comparable ovation, or—as you suggest—if perhaps the audience is just thrilled that the tune is over.

But more evolved artists—and there are some out there—would forgo self-questioning in favor of compassion for their listeners. Pity the poor audience members, Alicia: They want to participate, join the celebration, but they live in fear of making a mistake. Many have sought refuge in jazz after clapping between movements at the symphony, where they were belittled by haughty glares and condescending "tsk- tsk"s from the uppity people surrounding them.

So they go to a jazz club, thinking a less highbrow room might be safer, but to their horror the humiliation continues. Suddenly—though no one warns them in advance—they're SUPPOSED to clap in mid-song, when the saxophonist stops squishing up his beet-red face and the pianist starts to squirm on his bench, and again when the pianist comes to a rest, the band gets quiet and the bassist becomes suddenly audible. How can they be expected to know what these cues mean? Then, later in the tune, the drums begin to intermittently play even louder and busier than usual, but in short spurts; only after the last of these convulsions is the audience supposed to applaud, but who is to say which will be the final one?

And, if that's not enough, even if they clap for all the solos just as they're supposed to, there's a danger of clapping TOO loud. The band members, briefly unable to hear one another, get separated, and the once- driving pulse disintegrates from a unified, joyous exclamation into an awkward, sputtering question. There's no greater embarrassment in jazz, and the devastated players head straight for the bar as soon as the tune reaches its ramshackle ending. Heads hanging, they avoid eye contact with one another and with the audience that unknowingly created this trauma.

So, really, the end of the song should be the audience members' safe place, the one time they can clap without being hated for it. If only the musicians had their own safe place, where they could bask in the applause and leave self-recrimination behind! But, no, they're slaves to a dysfunction rooted in their debilitating adolescence, when no bright young teenaged girl ever recognized their musical genius and gave them the encouragement and admiration they craved. Well, it's never too late, Alicia—and who better than you to help them shed these demons from their past?



Dear Mr.PC:

I took a legit gig—the music arrived and it really sucks. I am a Canadian jazz singer with health insurance and don't really need the gig. What should I do? Jen S.



Dear Jen:

So great to hear from our friendly northern neighbor! Is it true that even your free jazz has no anger in it?

But from the sound of your note, Canadians aren't entirely without issues. Let's start with your second sentence, whose meatiness appeals even to a vegetarian like myself. While I try to avoid all things carnivorous, I can't help but think that Canadian animals are slaughtered with more compassion—after all, you're not a warring people—and are less hopped up on antibiotics, your virtuous farmers resisting the temptation of low-priced Canadian meds.

Here's the crux of it: Consider your sister singers to the South. Theirs is a road fraught with hazards, which I'm sure you've shared: Thrown objects, vocal nodes, and psychological abuse from misogynistic sidemen, for starters. But unlike you, they may not be able to afford proper medical care when tragedy strikes, and their untreated problems may leave them physically or emotionally scarred for life. You say you don't "need the gig" because of your free health care, when in fact that very health care enables you as a vocalist. I'm sure you think globally, so look at it this way: In a world where there isn't enough health care coverage to go around, shouldn't you—as one of the lucky few—be leading the charge, drawing the fire? Take all the slings and arrows, Jen, let even the critics savage you. You've got an impermeable safety net; you'll be just fine.

Now let's go back to your first sentence, where you describe classical music as "legit," though you say this "legit" gig you took "really sucks." Does that mean you consider jazz "illegitimate"? And that you like this bastard art form even less than the purebred classical music you despise? It certainly sounds like it, and still you choose to call yourself a "jazz singer!" The implied self-loathing troubles me, to say the least. But here's the good news: A trained holistic counselor should be able to help you start loving yourself, and your music, again. And for you, it's free!



Dear Mr. P.C.:

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Booze in the Night, CD or Not CD?, and Malodorous Microphone Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Booze in the Night, CD or Not CD?, and Malodorous Microphone
by Mr. P.C.
Published: May 3, 2017
Read Solving the Audience Equation, The Fix is On, and It's a Setup! Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Solving the Audience Equation, The Fix is On, and It's...
by Mr. P.C.
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Best of Mr. P.C. 2016 Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Best of Mr. P.C. 2016
by Mr. P.C.
Published: December 10, 2016
Read Easy Swing, Fours and More, Medicinal Jazz Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Easy Swing, Fours and More, Medicinal Jazz
by Mr. P.C.
Published: December 1, 2016
Read Death By Banjo, Playing With Emotion, and Musical Divorce Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Death By Banjo, Playing With Emotion, and Musical Divorce
by Mr. P.C.
Published: October 27, 2016
Read Background Gigs, Small Fonts, and Incestuous Quotes Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Background Gigs, Small Fonts, and Incestuous Quotes
by Mr. P.C.
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Solving the Audience Equation, The Fix is On, and It's a Setup!" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Solving the Audience Equation, The Fix is On, and It's...
by Mr. P.C.
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Best of Mr. P.C. 2016" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Best of Mr. P.C. 2016
by Mr. P.C.
Published: December 10, 2016
Read "Death By Banjo, Playing With Emotion, and Musical Divorce" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Death By Banjo, Playing With Emotion, and Musical Divorce
by Mr. P.C.
Published: October 27, 2016
Read "Easy Swing, Fours and More, Medicinal Jazz" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Easy Swing, Fours and More, Medicinal Jazz
by Mr. P.C.
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Booze in the Night, CD or Not CD?, and Malodorous Microphone" Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... Booze in the Night, CD or Not CD?, and Malodorous Microphone
by Mr. P.C.
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "The Donny McCaslin Group at The Arden Gild Hall" Live Reviews The Donny McCaslin Group at The Arden Gild Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio at Germantown Settlement School" Live From Philadelphia Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio at Germantown Settlement School
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957" My Blue Note Obsession Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017" Live Reviews Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: June 24, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!