Going Solo

Going Solo
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I'm a saxophonist, and someone just came up from the audience tonight and started talking to me while I was in the middle of soloing on a hard tune. I was having enough trouble just making the changes—what was I supposed to do?

—Blown Blowing

Dear BB:

I'm no theory expert, but blues scales usually work.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

When a horn player at a jam session solos two or three times as long as anyone else, what is the proper way to stop him? Or should everyone just start doubling and tripling the length of their own solos?

—In a Jam

Dear IJ:

In the 80 years since Jo Jones famously threw a cymbal at Charlie Parker's head, jam session etiquette has become far less accepting of aggression, largely due to the threat of litigation.

Unfortunately, that makes it harder to stop the filibustering soloist. Doubling or tripling your own solo length would only give him an excuse to double or triple that, and the escalating war would quickly drive away both people in the audience.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

When I solo and the audience really loves me, I have to stay away from them during my breaks. Why? Because I'm afraid if I meet them and they're a bunch of idiots, then their applause didn't really mean anything. Right?

—Hans Soloist

Dear Hans:

Consider this: What if your solos happen to be so bad that only idiots can appreciate them? If that's the case, idiots are your people, and hiding from them is like hiding from yourself.

This is no time for cowardice, Hans: Spend your break working the room, and brace yourself for a good hard look in the mirror.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

If the universe is really infinite, does that mean that somewhere there's some guy exactly like me who took the same solo I just took but didn't hit the horrible note I accidentally ended on?

—Phil O. Sopher

Dear POS:

Yes, but somewhere else there's a guy just like you who ended on an even more offensive note!

Take comfort in this next time you start fretting about your playing. You could be a lot worse—just not in this lifetime, on this planet.

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