It seems unlikely that anyone who follows jazz closely has not encountered Mr. P.C., counselor to musicians who wish to do the right thing but are confused about what that is. However, it’s tough to keep up with much of even the most valuable information in the bountynot to say glut of digital outpourings. If you have missed Mr. P.C., Rifftides is happy to call him to your attention. The credo prefacing his column on the All About Jazz website begins:
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.
Here is a sample of his servicesthe Q and some of the A in an exchange from his most recent column:
Dear Mr. P.C.:
A friend of mine books a successful outdoor music series featuring crowd-pleasing groups like rock cover bands. He called me up and told me that there was a problem: crowds had grown too large, forcing the city to hire extra police and trash collectors. Because of the city’s budget crisis, he was under pressure to book bands that would draw smaller crowds. Then he offered my jazz trio a date in the series.
How should we dress for the gig?
— Kirk, New York
Dear Kirk: I totally understand your dilemma. Since the crowd is used to rock bands, they probably expect your trio to wear spandex body suits with plunging chest lines and cucumber-stuffed crotches. But that would objectify you as mere sex objects—albeit middle-aged, saggy ones—and detract from the profundity of your art.
On the other hand, if you were to dress in the more high-toned attire of intimate jazz clubs and cocktail lounges, all the nuances—matching patterned bowtie and cummerbund, polished cufflinks, ruffled shirts—would be lost in the physical distance between you and the audience.
But these may be moot points. Given all the challenges they’re having with their budget and trash collection, don’t you think they’ll expect you to help clean up the garbage after your performance? Well, there’s your answer!…
Well, there’s part of the answer. To see all of it and some of his other advice, go here.
Those who note a resemblance between the portrait of Mr. P.C. on the upper left and the Seattle pianist Bill Anschell may be onto something.
Think about it. Have you ever seen them together?