Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum

Daily articles carefully curated by the All About Jazz staff. Read our popular and future articles.

Inspired by the cutting edge advice of Abigail Van Buren, the storied bass playing of Paul Chambers, and the need for a Politically Correct doctrine for navigating the minefields of jazz etiquette, I humbly offer my services.

Count-Off, Off of My Cloud, Going Off

Read "Count-Off, Off of My Cloud, Going Off" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Count-offDear Mr. P.C.: I have a question. What's the difference between “counting it off" and “counting it IN" ??? I know it's “counting off the beat" and “counting IN the band," but it's still weird to me. --K.M., Seattle   Dear K.M.: Actually, the opposite of counting a song in is counting it out, terminology borrowed from the boxing world. There's no need for a song to be counted out if it ...

Cattle Calls, Tuning Wrenchers and the American Dream

Read "Cattle Calls, Tuning Wrenchers and the American Dream" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Cattle Calls Dear Mr. P.C.: When a bandleader calls me for a gig and says, “I know you're probably already booked, because I tried 20 other pianists and everybody's working," what am I supposed to say? --#21 Dear #21: Look at his words closely. If he knows you're probably booked, why is he calling you? Obviously not because he wants you for the gig; it's so he can tell the next pianist ...

Sneezing, Spouses and Singers

Read "Sneezing, Spouses and Singers" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: I'm playing solo piano at an old folks home. Suddenly I feel an explosive sneeze coming on, and I can tell it's going to be “productive." I don't want to be responsible for infecting the vulnerable elderly. Where am I supposed to point my problematic proboscis? Do my hands get involved? --Achoo! Dear Achoo!: What kind of distance can you get? How accurate are you? Will it hold its ...

De Bass

Read "De Bass" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: When a pianist and bassist argue over chord changes, who's usually right? --Believing Either Bass Or Piano Dear BEBOP: Does it matter? It's purely ritualistic behavior, as inborn and inescapable as bucks tangling antlers in the spring. But the feuding still establishes dominance, and that has far-reaching effects: When the rhythm section gets lost, the submissive will take the blame even if it's clearly the dominant's fault. ...

Disgruntled Masters

Read "Disgruntled Masters" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: Is it okay to grunt or hum while playing the piano? I'm looking for a career in jazz but don't have any musical talent, but I'm pretty sure I could figure out a way to remaster the great tunes from the likes of Oscar and Erroll to exclude the annoying 'hum' from their recordings.  --Peter from Poughkeepsie Dear Peter: What few people realize about grunters like Oscar and Erroll ...

Bits and Bytes

Read "Bits and Bytes" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: On the bandstand, in the middle of a tune, is it okay to move your lips while you're counting? —Patient Percussionist Dear PP: Of course--if you don't, you'll sound really strange. Dear Mr. P.C.: I saw someone post on Facebook, just before a gig: “Hurry down--we're selling out!" My question is, are they selling out of seats, or selling out musically?

Faking Bad

Read "Faking Bad" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: I'm in a band with a bassist who wants to rehearse every week. Considering that all we do when we have a gig is fake standards, isn't he being a little OCD? —Kevin A., Raleigh Dear Kevin: The hardest thing about faking standards is that there too many directions you can take. It can be overwhelming. When you rehearse faking a standard, anything you play is automatically ...


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