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.

Cursing, Gambling, Drinking and Smoking

Read "Cursing, Gambling, Drinking and Smoking" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

CursingDear Mr. P.C.: Sometimes when a jazz musician is soloing, I hear him groan or even curse when he hits a bad note. But I never hear any squeals of joy from musicians when they play something they like. Why all the negativity? —Pollyanna in Pittsburgh Dear Polly: That groan or curse you hear is actually an important form of messaging within the band. When a player hits a bad note, his ...

Best of 2020

Read "Best of 2020" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: So with the ever-present question of “selling out," my question for you is this: Is it better to alienate your audience by playing complicated original music, or to lift their spirits playing standards you can't stand? --Dave the Dichotomist   Dear Dave: If the only thing that lifts their spirits is seeing you miserable, what kind of people are they? Go ahead and play your original music—they ...

Inside Out

Read "Inside Out" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: I was playing bass on a trio gig along with a guitarist and drummer. I was comping during a drum solo and I suddenly heard “Quit playing!" from across the room. Now I don't always lay it down for drummers, but this guy did not know the form of any of the tunes we played, so I thought some nice hits and sparse walking in key parts of the tune would help keep things together. ...

Talking While Playing, Sub Division, and Translating Scat

Read "Talking While Playing, Sub Division, and Translating Scat" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Talking While PlayingDear Mr. P.C.: You are in the middle of an improvised solo, eyes closed, really in the flow, when someone walks up and starts talking to you. What do you do? Sure, I can have a conversation while strumming the chords to a pop song or some repetitive part, but while navigating the changes in real-time to a song like “Dolphin Dance," I just don't have the brainpower to have a conversation simultaneously. Challenges of the ...

Bits and Bytes

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

Dear Mr. P.C.: Do you really have to suffer to be a great artist, or is that just Hollywood BS? --Pete L., Chicago Dear Pete: It's absolutely true, and that's why you should always seek out and play with the worst musicians possible. Dear Mr. P.C.: Some jazz players record all their gigs and listen studiously to the playbacks. Others can't stand to hear themselves and don't even ...

Do the Math

Read "Do the Math" reviewed by Mr. P.C.

Dear Mr. P.C.: Here's what I don't get. Say you're the leader on a $400 quartet gig, and the club owner offers you a 50% raise, but “changes his mind" a week later and cuts your pay by 50%. You wind up with less than you started with--$300! ($600 -$300) But then look at the opposite: say you have another $400 gig with the same club owner, but this time he first cuts it by 50%, then a ...

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 ...


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