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July 2015

July 2015
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

Frank Zappa said Jazz wasn't dead, it just smelled bad. If players bathed more frequently would Jazz be more popular?  Thanks.

—Jacques


Dear Jacques:

Check your thesaurus! If something smells bad it is "funky"; Zappa's quote can be paraphrased as "Jazz isn't dead, it's just funky." Funk, in his eyes, is the opposite of death; the funkier the jazz, the more full of life.

Reflect on that for a moment, if you will. Zappa's imperative to the musician is not to bathe, and at the same time to emphasize the groove, even at the expense of melody and harmony.

If you really want to keep jazz alive, smelling better is the last thing you should consider, right after bebop lines, Coltrane changes, and metric modulations.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I think it's time we admitted that today's generation processes music visually, not with their ears. Every hit song has a video and every popular singer is beautiful, highly choreographed and perfectly costumed. What can a group of old, awkward and unattractive middle-aged jazz men do to stay relevant?

—Uncoordinated Gents Look Yucky


Dear UGLY:

Stop selling yourself short! There are plenty of jobs behind the scenes, so there's no reason to think you can't to work your way up to being a videographer, publicist or roadie. Just be sure to stay off camera, and remember that under no circumstances are you to mingle with the talent.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

We often hear of  certain people being called the "father" of stride, or bop or free playing, etc.... no specific mention of the mother is ever made.  This looks like male chauvinism at its most blatant! Yet, in countless other cases, this or that great player (usually a male) is called a "Mother."  In a music community that prides itself in its NFL class macho qualities, there seems to be a lot of gender confusion going on here.  And where do totally anti-macho players, such as Bill Evans and Paul Desmond, fit in to all of this?

—Sleepless in Seattle


Dear SIS:

What you're saying is that those who gave birth—to stride, bop and other styles—are called fathers. This is a classic manifestation of "birth envy," a male complex arising from inadequacy around fertile women. Most men would give anything to be able to give birth to an actual child; the next best thing—a distant second—is claiming paternity when they birth a style.

Birth envy also explains why male musicians call their most promising peers "Mothers." It's the greatest compliment, an honor elevating the designee to the apex of the collective male fantasy.

"Anti-macho players" Bill Evans and Paul Desmond simply embraced their own feminine sides; a more direct, individualized and perhaps hermaphroditic way of becoming Mothers.

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