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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.

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 ...

Audience Requests, Invisible Soloists and Rhythm Changes

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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: ...

Best of Mr. P.C. 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I was driving on a highway yesterday, and the person in front of me was going way too slow. But I couldn't pass her because there were double lines on the road and lots of curves. So instead I drove right up to her bumper and tailgated her until she drove at the correct speed. What I'm wondering is, can I do something like that to a drummer who is dragging?

November 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I played on a recording session not long ago, and took four guitar solos. When they sent me a CD, I discovered that they'd had a trumpet player come in afterwards to play throughout the project--including during my solos! So everywhere I left space in a solo you'd hear the trumpet player adding little filler licks. Then the first review came out and praised the “uncanny interplay between guitar and trumpet!" This raises all kinds ...

October 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I used to get all the calls in town when someone needed a bassist. Now I don't get any, and the weird thing is that I've only been getting better. I still practice all the time and can tell I'm improving. So why would I suddenly disappear? I'm not in the clubs anymore, and apparently I'm not in anyone's book either. --Invisible Man Dear Invisible: When the phone isn't ...

September 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: Should it matter whether a jazz musician is or isn't pretty or handsome? --Can't Understand The Etiquette Dear CUTE: No it shouldn't, but unfortunately it does anyway. Jazz has historically been music of the down-trodden, disenfranchised and disfigured, and that's led to tremendous prejudice against good-looking players. What can we do? A full-fledged affirmative action plan would be hard to implement, but a sensible informal policy would ask each ...

August 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: What's wrong with the people who made up the names for how to play? When you get to a section that's double-time, you would think it would take twice as long, but it's actually faster. Then you get to a part that's half-time, so it should take half as long to play, but it's slower. Am I missing something? --Concerned Citizen Dear Concerned: Yes, you are. Your math assumes ...

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