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March 5, 2014 | Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette; March 2014

We've mentioned before Seattle musician and "All About Jazz" humorist Bill Anschell and his offbeat take on the club jazz scene. His March 2014 installment aptly discusses the nature of transcription.


Dear Mr. P.C.:
What do you think about the whole transcribing thing? Studying the best players, transcribing their solos, and learning to play like them. I thought jazz was supposed to be an individual expression.

Trying to Be Myself

Dear Trying:

Look, when you transcribe a solo and try to play Coltrane or Bird's exact lines, you never do it as well as they did, right? Well guess what: those imperfections are the very "individual expression" you're looking for -- they're your sound!

Obviously, this offers tremendous opportunity for musical growth. Whether through inaccurate transcription or poor playing, the more mistakes you make, the more personalized your concept becomes!

Someday down the road, a student from the next generation may transcribe your flawed renditions of Trane and Bird's solos, and add his own mistakes. That, my friend, is a legacy; it's what keeps jazz moving forward, and might just cement your place in the music's storied evolution.

Dear Mr. P.C.:
How should I set my pay scale when a piano player calls me for a duo gig and asks how much I need? I hate that question!

Jim of MD

Dear Jim:

Of course the enlightened path is to act selflessly -- to put others' needs before your own. So the answer should be obvious enough: Ask the pianist how much he needs, and tell him he can just pay you the rest.

Read complete March 2014 entry

Like his Facebook Page: Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum

Posted by Ted at March 5, 2014 5:55 AM

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