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

Strange Guitarists, Entitled Musicians and Fictional Managers

Strange Guitarists, Entitled Musicians and Fictional Managers
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Strange Guitarists

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Is it possible to maintain inner peace while playing "Misty" or "Autumn Leaves"? Why are guitarists strange?

—Jack


Dear Jack:

That's quite a puzzle you've created there! I think you're suggesting that guitarists are strange either because they can maintain inner peace playing those songs, or because they can't. I can't tell which, and it doesn't matter.

Here's the thing: Guitar players have so many notes inside, they can barely contain them. So the question for them is: Can they play all those notes on "Misty" and "Autumn Leaves"? Unfortunately, both songs were written as ballads, and although it's easier to spit out copious notes at ballad tempos, it's considered unmusical, since ballads intend to soothe. This creates extreme cognitive dissonance in the poor guitarist, with mind and fingers coiled and ready to let loose, while external forces—the other musicians, the audience, and even occasional bouts of good taste—insist otherwise.

And therein lie our answers. First of all, it isn't possible for guitarists to maintain inner peace playing those songs; they're far more likely to implode. But it is possible to maintain inner peace playing those songs so long as you're not a guitarist. As for your second question: The reason guitarists are strange is precisely that they can't maintain that inner peace on those songs or any other ballads, and the reason they can't is that they're guitarists.

Entitled Musicians

Dear Mr. P.C.:

It's time you heard from a clubowner, don't you think? My experience is that jazz musicians act entitled. They know what the deal is at my club, I pay all the bands the same. But each new band that comes in acts like I owe it to them, on top of the pay, to feed them, give them free drinks and let them take long breaks.

My profit margin is no better than theirs, and my bartenders, waiters and kitchen crew don't make nearly as much as I pay them. What makes jazz musicians so damn special?

—Exploited Ed


Dear EE:

I could tell you, but you wouldn't understand. Just like you don't understand jazz; just like everyone who isn't a jazz musician doesn't understand jazz. And if you don't understand jazz itself, how could you possibly understand what makes jazz musicians so "damn special"? Only jazz musicians understand it, and if they feel that entitles them to special treatment, you're in no position to argue.

Fictional Managers

Dear Mr. P.C.:

There's a musician in the band I lead who always shows up for our steady gig with his girlfriend. He tells the owner she's his "manager," but I know he just doesn't want her to have to pay a cover. The club doesn't offer us any comps, so it's almost an act of defiance. It puts the club (and me) on the spot, and is really embarrassing. How can I get him to stop doing it?

—Ken, New York


Dear Ken:

I've got news for you: Managers don't really exist! Think about it: have you ever had one? Do you know anyone who has? We hear stories of marquee jazz artists having "managers" who supposedly travel with them, but have you ever met one?

There's a tremendous amount of disinformation that comes from the top in the jazz world; "managers" are just the beginning. We hear about well-appointed green rooms, magnificent concerts halls, pristine acoustics, great sound crews, beautiful accommodations, and enthusiastic audiences. Have you ever experienced any of those? Of course not! They're fake news—conceived by the jazz Illuminati and promulgated by the jazz media.

In truth, you're just a hapless cog that keeps the industry turning, and you should have left long ago. But their propaganda keeps you toiling away, head down, oblivious to what should be simple truths, like this one: Managers don't really exist!

Have a question for Mr. P.C.? Ask him.

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