Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum: October 2011

October 2011

Dear Mr. P.C.:

On my steady gig, I'll be trying really hard to play well. You know, being in the moment, trying to come up with ideas I've never played before, treating jazz with total respect. Right in the middle of all that I'll hear the drums start to sound like something is wrong. When I look over, the drummer is making kissy faces at some cute woman in the audience and showing off for her with all these fancy but totally inappropriate fills. It totally destroys my concentration. What should I do?

-- Drummer Ruins My Sanity

Dear DRMS: I understand why you're so upset. Instead of singling out and objectifying a "cute" woman, he could perform a real service by flattering a less attractive woman, particularly a geriatric or grossly misshapen one. Or he could deliver an even bigger blow to chauvinism by "making kissy faces" at the men in the audience, especially the more macho guys--the ones pounding beers and looking hatefully toward the bandstand. But think about it, DRMS: At least he's accompanying you, taking part in your journey. During his solos, you don't even play! Instead, you disengage from the music, silently counting "one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four..." while worrying about what you'll eat during the next break. I can only imagine what you'd be doing if you had his arsenal of gadgets at your disposal: Swiveling around on the drum throne (Look how tall I am! Now look how short I am!), twirling the sticks (Take cover--I'm a nunchuck Master!), and wearing the ride cymbal on your head (Quick, someone find me a rice paddy--it's a coolie hat!). Your drummer may have his faults, DRMS, but you have to give him credit for engaging the audience. And I've got some great news: You can take his approach to a whole new level, combining audience outreach with social activism! Best of all, you can do it during his solos, when you're normally nothing but dead weight on the bandstand! Here's how: When he starts to solo, turn to the people in the audience and leer at them suggestively. But--this is the key--leer only at those who are least accustomed to it, and would therefore most welcome it: The disadvantaged, the disenfranchised, and the disfigured.


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