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Inside Out

Inside Out
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I was playing bass on a trio gig along with a guitarist and drummer. I was comping during a drum solo and I suddenly heard "Quit playing!" from across the room. Now I don't always lay it down for drummers, but this guy did not know the form of any of the tunes we played, so I thought some nice hits and sparse walking in key parts of the tune would help keep things together. I did lay out in some tunes after that, and it was a free-for-all, as far as form goes, during the drum solos.

Should I expect drummers to stick to the form when they are soloing?

—Stickler, SC


Dear Stickler:

What is form but an artificial construct, a tool of oppression? It's designed to hem musicians in, keep them racing around within it like hamsters on exercise wheels. Outside the form lies an entire world; inside it just a bunch of looping chord changes.

If your drummer has managed to escape, you should joyfully follow him—two wrongfully imprisoned musicians busting free. And if the guitarist refuses to join you, it's because he's decided the food and shelter he earns by playing "inside" make it worth being the music's bitch.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

"Outside jazz," "inside jazz": Who came up with these terms, and what exactly do they mean?

—Stuck in the Middle


Dear Stuck:

It should be obvious: "Inside jazz" is meant to be played inside; it's an unobtrusive, soothing style that pairs well with fine wine and upscale decor. "Outside jazz" should be played outside; it has a ferocious sound that protects the audience by keeping predators at bay.

There is no room for compromise: When inside jazz is played outside, its polite tinkling dissipates into inaudibility. And when outside jazz is played inside, its angry tone turns four-course gourmet dining into ordinary indigestion.

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