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.

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 ...

November 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I got offered a low paying gig through an agent who's been screwing musicians royally for years. What should I do? --T.W., Atlanta Dear T.W.: Think about it: His 15% cut of a low-paying gig is just a fraction of the 15% other agents make booking high-end ones. Yet he books it anyway, taking a passionate stand for the underclass. He's so committed to the little guy ...

October 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I was playing piano in a building lobby where I perform regularly. A woman walked past the piano and discreetly left something at the far end (it's a grand piano). When I finished the song, I walked around the piano to see what she'd left. Turned out it was her trash! I'm a little old and out of touch so I'm wondering: Is that okay nowadays? --Don't Understand Selfish Treatment ...


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