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.


July 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: Frank Zappa said Jazz wasn't dead, it just smelled bad. If players bathed more frequently would Jazz be more popular?  Thanks. --Jacques Dear Jacques: Check your thesaurus! If something smells bad it is “funky"; Zappa's quote can be paraphrased as “Jazz isn't dead, it's just funky." Funk, in his eyes, is the opposite of death; the funkier the jazz, the more full of life. Reflect on that ...

June 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: Is there a correlation between the better a person can play an accordion and the lower the economic scale he is in? Do skinny people ever play the tuba? I'll hang up and listen. --Kenneth Heard Dear Kenneth: I haven't heard the term “economic scale" before, but I assume it's some kind of scale with very few notes. The law of supply and demand tells us that each of ...

May 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I bought a trombone they said had seven positions, but I can find only one long one. Was I ripped off?  --Jazzprof  Dear Jazzprof: You weren't exactly ripped off, but perhaps misled. There are indeed seven positions, but they are positions between you and the trombone, not built into the trombone itself. This is intricately described in The Joy of Sax, and the positions are pretty universal ...

April 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I just played a long solo gig at a fancy mansion. The hosts offered me appetizers, but since I was playing it was hard to eat without getting food on my hands and the piano. I just wound up eating three tiny morsels. Then dinner time came, but it was only for the guests seated at the table. As I played, I heard the chef describe each amazing course before he served it. It was ...

March 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: What is meant by the term “Post-Bop"? Since “bop" ended in the 1950s, isn't everything since then technically “post-bop"? --T.M. in Seattle Dear T.M.: It sure is, and that's great news to anyone worried that jazz is becoming irrelevant. What better solution than to be massively inclusive, the biggest of all big tents! Taylor Swift? Post-bop! Rice a Roni? Post-bop! Richard Nixon? Post-bop! Post-modernism? Post-bop!

February 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: When I hear an old recording of myself, I'm always hoping I won't like it. Why? Because I'm still practicing and trying to get better. So I'm almost afraid to listen to old recordings in case I like them too much, because that would mean all my hard work since the recording date was for nothing. --Salvador Dear Sal: That makes sense to me, but why not be the ...

January 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?

Best of Mr. P.C. 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: Why is it that whenever I go to a jam session, the best players are the meanest? Does that mean that I have to become a jerk if I want to get good? --Still A Nice Guy Dear SANG: Sounds like you're buying into some very common but misguided notions of “best." Just what is it that you admire about these “jerks"? That they play comfortably and melodically at ...



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