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March 2015

March 2015
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

What is meant by the term "Post-Bop"? Since "bop" ended in the 1950s, isn't everything since then technically "post-bop"?

—T.M. in Seattle


Dear T.M.:

It sure is, and that's great news to anyone worried that jazz is becoming irrelevant. What better solution than to be massively inclusive, the biggest of all big tents!

Taylor Swift? Post-bop! Rice a Roni? Post-bop! Richard Nixon? Post-bop! Post-modernism? Post-bop!

Sure, pop, rock and country outsell jazz fifty to one, but we know the post-bop truth—we own them.

The post-bop world belongs to jazz!

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Is there really a "Jazz Industry"? That makes it sound like there are thousands of people slaving away at their craft for little or no compensation. How is that possible in America? Is that why they call it "The land of the free"? I know that's more than one question, but this is so disturbing.

—Olympia Oliphant


Dear OO:

I'm sure you know that there are great jazz musicians all around the world, but apparently you don't recognize the threat they pose to American jazz wages and job security. There is indeed a jazz industry in America, and it has to set wages low so they won't be undercut by artists abroad.

Do you really want to see our gigs outsourced—songs sung in undecipherable Indian accents; cheap Chinese licks flooding the market; charts written from right to left, performed by underfed children working long hours in unsafe clubs? It's not fair to them, it's not fair to you, and it's not fair to America, where jazz was born and must remain.

That's why the industry—of the jazz musician, by the jazz musician, and for the jazz musician—protects you by keeping your pay at bare subsistence level.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I was in the audience at a jam session. My back was to the stage, and I couldn't believe how long a solo the tenor player took. He played like watered down Coltrane, a sound I'm used to nowadays. Then I turned around and realized I'd heard three different tenor players who all sounded the same. Why do they all do that?

—Roger Overandout


Dear Roger:

If tenor players didn't all sound the same, how would they be able to find subs? This way, when a pianist who sounds like watered down McCoy needs a tenor player who sounds like watered down Trane, the bench is deep.

And "watered down" isn't a negative—if Trane were still alive, at 88, he would sound like watered down Trane too. The sax players you heard value historical accuracy, while a player who sounds like Trane at the peak of his career is nothing but a thoughtless knock-off.
       

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