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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.

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 ...

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 ...


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