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Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...

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.

Practice Makes Imperfect, The Pursuit of Nothingness, Challenging the Originalists

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Dear Mr. P.C.: What I don't get is rehearsals. When you rehearse before a gig, you have no idea what will actually go wrong. If people were to rehearse after their gigs, they'd know exactly what to work on. What am I missing? --Practice Isn't Making Perfect Dear PIMP: Here's my question: How do you know that the problems from the concert could be accurately recreated afterwards in a rehearsal environment? ...

Bits and PCs, The Cosmic Loop, Fake Gigs

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Dear Mr. P.C.: Is it ever ok for a horn player to scat? If so, what are the proper syllables for upbeats? --Zee-bop Dear Zee-bop: The correct syllable for an upbeat is “and." Besides alerting the band to where you might be rhythmically, it lets the listeners know there's more to follow, giving them hope it might get better. Dear Mr. P.C.: I've played a few casuals where ...

Booze in the Night, CD or Not CD?, and Malodorous Microphone

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Dear Mr. P.C.: What are you supposed to do with loud drunks? The kind that love to scream at each other when you're in the middle of a tender ballad. --Songus Interruptus Dear Songus: Here's my question for you: Which is a more authentic expression of human emotions in the moment--your practiced licks, or the cries of those anguished patrons drinking away their sorrows? I'm not surprised their emotional outpouring ...

Solving the Audience Equation, The Fix is On, and It's a Setup!

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Dear Mr. P.C.: This whole “jazz musicians play thousands of chords to three people" vs. “rock musicians play three chords for thousands" thing: What is the correct chord/audience ratio? Perhaps zero chords for an infinite audience is the ideal; or all chords for no audience. I certainly have landed closer to the latter. Is art about this kind of calculus? --Randy H., Atlanta Dear Randy: Let's break it ...

Best of Mr. P.C. 2016

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I'm just an audience member, but I have a question on behalf of a lot of us listeners: If I make a request and the band plays it, do I have to listen to the whole thing? After they play the melody and then go into all the other stuff, sometimes I'd rather talk to my friends or just leave. --Short Attention Span Suzie Dear SASS: Don't ...

Easy Swing, Fours and More, Medicinal Jazz

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I just played a gig, and one of the charts said the feel should be “Easy Swing." What does that mean? The bassist thinks he was supposed to play in two, but I think it would have said “In Two" if that was the case. I think he was supposed to walk, but he says the charts would have said “In Four" or “Walking Bass." Please settle our argument. --Swingless In Seattle

Death By Banjo, Playing With Emotion, and Musical Divorce

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I just played a gig with a bad banjo player. I spent a lot of time learning the music, and the gig went fine. My problem is that now I can't get that music out of my head. It's killing me! What am I supposed to do? --Troubled in Tallahassee Dear Troubled: Unfortunately, offensive music in your head can only be displaced by music that's more offensive--that's how the ...

Background Gigs, Small Fonts, and Incestuous Quotes

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Dear Mr. P.C.: When we're playing a “background music" gig and the crowd is so loud there's no way they can hear us, and we can't even hear ourselves, does it matter what we play? --Invisible Dan Dear Dan: Jazz is all about responding, in the moment, to the sounds around you, right? To do otherwise is dishonest and untrue to the art form. So of course it matters what you play; ...

Texting on the Bandstand, Practicing, and Playing Each Note as if it's Your Last

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I took my son to see his teacher play sax at a local club. In the middle of a song, on stage, his teacher pulled out a cell phone and started texting someone. What kind of message does that send? --Can't Explain Lackluster Lesson Dear CELL: Probably “Hey, I'm here on stage texting in the middle of a song, LOL." Dear Mr. P.C.: Why do people rehearse ...


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