Pain Relief Beyond Belief





From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.


Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?


Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.


For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.


Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.






Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin



       In Her Own Words



Nelson E. Harrison, Ph. D., RA, ASCAP

November 18, 2005 10:56 PM – February 23, 2017 12:29 AM


"Jazz musicians are the only workers who will put in a full shift for pay and then go somewhere else and continue to work for free."---George Carlin


All joking aside musicians are an endangered species.  They are dying off prematurely without health insurance and not being replaced in sufficient numbers to assure their continuance as a species of human being. It is about time someone officially diagnosed this ancient incurable disease that infects the right temporal lobe of the brain called musicality.  It seems to enter the body through the ears although deaf people have been known to be afflicted by it, e.g., Beethoven.  It can be recognized in victims who seem to respond to regular rhythmic, harmonic and melodic sounds spontaneously to the extent that they remember them and sometimes have trouble getting the sounds to leave their awareness.  On occasion you may find them whistling or humming in public, patting their feet in rhythm to sounds audible only to themselves or even responding to music that is audible to others in ways that seem to indicate pleasure.  They have been known to smile inappropriately or make spontaneous noises at performances of music and even clap their hands in response to some sounds they particularly enjoy.


Years ago we played a gala event in Chester, WVA for a Jay Rockefeller sponsored foundation for leukemia.  I wondered why the billionaires could not support these foundations on their own with tax deductible contributions.  Why do they need OUR services and money and offer US the tax deduction instead of compensation?  Isn't there something wrong with this picture?  Oh, I forgot... the government GIVES them tax deductions.  Duh!!!


On numerous other occasions while playing gala gigs for a popular incurable disease like juvenile diabetes, cystic fibrosis, lupus erythematosis, etc., an auctioneer rises during the band break and raises $1,000,000+ from the floor in about 30 minutes.  It may cause one to wonder why the disease remains incurable given that level of spontaneous support or if there is something else going on. I couldn’t help but to try imagining what it would be like if the obviously incurable disease of musicality were to receive that level of spontaneous support.


The purpose of this article is twofold.  First it is to provide readers with information that will be informative and helpful in understanding quarantine and treatment protocols and the way in which they relate to the process of purchasing a musician.  Secondly, it is to offer an explanation as to how and why this policy is used to triage musicians in the workforce, i.e., discriminate against creativity and hipness.



The Blue Gene

"Musicianship and musicality must be formally diagnosed as an incurable
disease!!!"  I am therefore offering this paper describing its symptoms and
etiology and disastrous consequences, e.g., monetary tips are given to the valet, waitress etc. but not to the musicians.  The waitresses make more than the musicians.

What others have said


"Though little thought is given today as to the meaning or function of music within society, the civilizations of former times were usually very conscious of music's power.  In fact, the further back in time we look, the more people are found to have been aware of the inherent powers locked within the heart of all music and all sound… With the coming of jazz, pulsation and syncopation became pronounced in music as never before.  Syncopation places the accent on the offbeat in 4/4 time.  It is a deliberate attempt on the part of the musician to disrupt the even character of his rhythm.  The effect of jazz syncopation is primarily sexual: The beat somehow ties in with the rhythm of sexuality in man and woman.

---David Tame, 1984---


"After the dissemination of Jazz, which was definitely 'put through' by the Dark Forces, a very marked decline in sexual morals became noticeable…Now, it is just this over-emphasis of the sex-nature, this wrong attitude towards it, for which Jazz-music has been responsible.  The orgiastic element of its syncopated rhythm, entirely divorced from any more exalted musical content, produced a hyper-excitement of the nerves and loosened the powers of self-control.  It gave rise to false exhilaration, a fictitious endurance, an in-satiability resulting in a deleterious moral and physical reaction.  Whereas the old fashion melodious dance--music inspired the gentler sentiments, Jazz, with its array of harsh, ear-splitting percussion instruments inflamed, intoxicated and brutalized, thus causing a set-back in Man's nature towards the instincts of his racial childhood.  For Jazz-music at its height very closely resembled the music of primitive savages.  A further result of it was to be seen in that the love of sensationalism which has so greatly increased.  As Jazz itself was markedly sensational, the public has increasingly come to demand 'thrills' in the form of 'crook dramas' and plays, the only dramatic interest of which is connected with crime, mystery and brutality.  This also applies to sensational fiction; for the sale and output of this type is prodigious.

---Cyril Scott, 1958---


"In the present stage of (mankind's) development, the emotional nature needs to be calmed down and controlled.  But jazz acts to the contrary.  It excites the emotions and plays up the desires.  And most devotees of jazz are teen-agers upon whom it has an especially deleterious effect.  From the age of fourteen to twenty-one the adolescent goes through a crucial time in development while the mind has not yet reached a point where it can control the emotions.  To be continually exposed to jazz, which over stimulates the emotional nature, can have but the one effect of being destructive if not actually disastrous…The result of this condition is seen on all sides; in the use of drugs and alcohol by young people; in the frantic love of speed on the highways, which gives a false sense of freedom to the excitable youngsters; robberies, rape, and even murder committed by some who are so young as to be scarcely adolescent.  Jazz and juvenile delinquency are twins.  Where one flourishes the other will appear.  And those who assist in the dissemination of these destructive rhythms are drawing upon themselves a harvest of sorrow and pain, though they may be entirely ignorant of any wrong-doing; for ignorance of the law excuses no one…The psychic conditions created in times of war lay humanity open to the most damaging onslaughts of the Dark Forces, for at such times it is as if the human psyche is stripped of its protective sheath of high-mindedness and idealism and is responsive to evil impulses, which it accepts as its own.  The legacy of World War I was jazz, which can be traced to African sources.  It came from Africa with the slave trade of colonial times and took root in America, undergoing an evolution in its new home, and then bursting into blossom after the first war.  Its current popularity originated in the night clubs of New Orleans.  From New Orleans it spread through the nation, found a welcome in Paris night clubs, and from Paris infected all of Europe and finally the world."

---Corinne Helline, 1965---

A patient goes to the doctor and complains that he has not been able to evacuate his bowels for over a month. The astonished doctor gives him some very strong laxative telling him to come back the next day.  The following day the patient returns saying that he took the medicine, but was still not been able to relieve himself. The doctor is amazed and takes him to the surgery toilet, where he gives him an injection of a very powerful laxative guaranteed to have an immediate effect.  However, after half an hour of much straining on the toilet, the treatment fails to produce any result.  Doctor:  "This is unbelievable! Please come into my office, you obviously have a psychological problem. I shall have to ask you some questions:  firstly, what do you do for a living?"  Patient: "I'm a jazz musician."  Doctor:  "Well, why didn't you say so in the first place!?  (Takes money out of his wallet) Here, go and get yourself something to eat!"




Jazz music's influence on the Beats


The writings of the poets of the Beat Generation, namely Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, resulted from the many factors of the time in which they wrote. They were accused of being crazy, yet their only real fault was writing with complete honesty. Their originality consequently placed them on the outskirts of society. The post-war, in which their poetry thrived, was a huge influence on their writing. Also influential on the poets’ literature was jazz music at this time; evoking many of the same feelings that these marginalized poets were feeling. Jazz was used either in coherence with poetry or as an inspiration for some of the writing techniques. The post-war era and the jazz music of the time heavily impacted the writings of Kerouac and Ginsberg. These two factors created for them inspiration as well as an outlet through which they escaped war and the negative aspects and feelings of the times. Both the jazz musicians and the writers of the Beat Movement were able to relate to the same type of feeling: ostracism. The predominantly African American jazz musicians were feeling ostracized during this time period because of the discrimination against their race. Like these musicians, the writers of the Beat Movement, a…



What is illness? “Emotional issues that are unresolved block the healing vibrations or cause the disease state to return.”

 ~ R Gordon

The Musicality Syndrome

What is musicality?

Is it a bacterial disease, viral, acquired or is it hereditary?

Who gets musicality?

Musicality is prevalent among the grass roots classes or common people of a society who have a sense of connection to the sounds and rhythms of their environment.  It is prevalent among children of all ethnicities but those who grow up in rich, blue blood families seem to outgrow it by the time they reach their teens.

What are the symptoms of musicality?

Poverty, social ostracism, self-imposed victimization, refusal to accept treatment and get a day job, hypersensitivity to the blues, inability to attract large
sums of money, the inability to stop playing or singing even after the paid job is over by looking for a jam session, dying prematurely without health insurance, etc. etc.

How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?

The range is from 9 months to 30 years.  It often occurs immediately after hearing a particular piece of music or a performance.  A powerful enough single exposure could afflict an unsuspecting victim for the rest of their life.

How is musicality spread?

Although not clearly understood, musicality is thought to spread through prolonged close contact (as may occur in a household, community or school) with an untreated musician. The music enters the air from the musician’s instrument or voice and probably spreads to others by coming into contact with the auditory membrane of the previously unaffected. Untreated mothers may pass the condition to their unborn children.

When and for how long is a person able to spread musicality?

Persons have been known to spread musicality that enter the entertainment field or the teaching profession.  It is most easily transmitted by those who are also afflicted with incurable musicality.

How can musicality be prevented?

Protection from the deleterious effects of musicality can be enhanced by making lots of money in unrelated fields or associating with those who cannot clap their hands or snap their fingers on the off-beat (2 & 4) or people who cannot dance.

As we embark on the new millennium, the goal of eradicating musicality as a public health problem is in sight. However, case detection rates in highly endemic regions appear to remain stable. This may partially be due to changes in accessibility and an improved distribution system via cyberspace. However, there is still no way to assess the prevalence of exposure in an endemic community. If we are to make progress towards eradication and assess the impact of musicality as it is actually delivered in situ, such a test will be needed.  If it were possible to develop a test that would allow us to measure total exposure in a community, this could help us eventually to predict mathematically the relationship between exposure and the incidence of musicality, and also to assess whether the risk of transmission in the community is changing over time. Such a test would need to be highly specific (i.e. non-exposed persons from non-endemic strata of society should be non-responsive); there should be some way to differentiate a response due to exposure to music from that due to other auditory stimuli; an increase in the proportion of the population testing 'positive' for the test should predict (at least in a subset of those 'positive') an increase in the risk of acquiring disease; and finally, a 'positive' test result should be more common in sub-groups of the community known to be at higher risk of disease (i.e. infants, blacks [though some immunity has become detectable since 1965], mentally retarded, autistic, especially the very young contacts of musically responsive persons).

Toddlers of all ethnic derivations seem to display a natural proclivity toward musicality, however, as they reach puberty there tends to be a “disconnect” between the auditory sense and the ability to move the body in response to music.

The finger snap sensitivity in identifying afflicted persons has made it the accepted measure for assessing the incidence of affliction in endemic communities. There are many parallels between musicality and dancing the number of exposed persons far exceeds those who actually develop clinical symptoms; there is a significant lag time between exposure and observable symptoms; and in both instances, the immune systems of a high proportion of 'very rich’ individuals suppress the symptoms soon after contact.

The search for a sensitivity test for musicality is not new. In longitudinal studies conducted in the US, any degree of bodily reactivity to music was associated with increased subsequent risk of developing musicality.

Phase I clinical safety trials in the US have further shown that fractional exposures are non-toxic and do not elicit a significant reaction in individuals from non-endemic social circles who have not been exposed to or value musicality.  A phase II trial, which will also take place on Capitol Hill in 2017, will investigate the appropriate dose, immunological dynamics, sensitivity and specificity of fractional exposure in a city with high musical endemicity. This trial will assess the effectiveness of the extermination teams that repossessed the government buildings after the exit of the highly toxic previous occupants.

The eventual development of a useful musicality test will provide new opportunities for mind control, for rational targeting of musicality resources and a tool to investigate the remaining epidemiological conundrums of musicality.

Isolation will be employed to accomplish the separation and restriction of movement of ill people to stop the spread of musicality to others. People in isolation may be cared for in their homes, in hospitals, or at designated health care facilities. Quarantine, will be applied to people who have been exposed to music and may be infected but are not yet ill. Separating exposed people and restricting their movements is intended to stop the spread of music. Quarantine can be highly effective in protecting the public from infection.  Music classes in schools will be de-emphasized or eliminated in favor of math and science and students will be forced to spend elective time preparing for standardized tests designed to measure the level of extinction of their musical responsivity.

What is quarantine and what is its purpose?

Originally in the 1400's a "quarantine" referred to a period of 40 days during which time an incoming ship suspected of carrying a contagious disease was held in isolation away from the shore.  Now days quarantine procedures not only protect humans from diseases and pests, but they also protect plants, musicians, and even our environment.  The primary purpose of a quarantine is to protect a designated subject from contamination. 

A quarantine may be a casual situation in which its purpose is simply to observe a musician for outward behaviors that might indicate a potential problem.  For example, a manager might quarantine a particular player or vocalist to make sure that they are practicing regularly.  In this situation protocol would simply consist of placing the person in a practice room alone during musical attacks.  Over a period of two or three weeks the manager may conclude that the musician is playing fine or that they are a problem musician and need additional attention.  This situation would not require any special procedures or even complete isolation since its purpose is only to determine the musical behavior of a particular person.  Because of its simplicity it is inexpensive and easy for the agent to manage.  This type of quarantine is suitable for isolating musicians that already exist in a collection that just need a little extra attention; however, it would not be suitable for students for it does not offer any measurable degree of protection from indoctrination.

For instance, an agent may have a very valuable and large roster of musicians.  For him the quarantine has several purposes.  He may want to be sure the musicians are eating normally but most importantly he wants to protect his primary artist from any serious drug abuse.  In this situation protocol would require a very strict and complete isolation of the musician off premise for a period of at least 30 days.  It may even require the use of additional managers not associated with the primary agency or its location.  And it would require a number of auditions and possibly even the use of union musicians.  At the end of this quarantine the agent might find it necessary to exterminate some or possibly all of the musicians in quarantine.  Should he choose not to exterminate some of the musicians then he would need to continue the quarantine for another 60 days.  He would then re-evaluate the surviving musicians at the end of this second period.  Because of the complexity and details involved, this type of quarantine is very expensive and difficult for an agent to manage.  This type of quarantine offers the maximum level of safety from drug abuse and is the protocol of choice for protecting established musicians from possible seduction by new designer drugs.

And of course there are a wide variety of quarantines in between the most simple and most complex.  For example, a simple quarantine might last for a period of 4 hours.  During this time the musician would be held in isolation in a soundproof room separate from the primary occupants but still in the same building.  During this 4 hour period the employer may do some simple lab work such as monitoring a series of sound samples to make sure they are not too loud.  Based on the results of these samples the employer would then treat the musician with the appropriate level of non-responsiveness.  The employer may also observe bandwich feeding, imbibing and smoking habits, and other behaviors related to the wellness and general condition of the musician.  Quarantines may vary considerably based on the individual needs of each employer.  If the employer is on a budget there are many things he can do to keep cost down.  If management is an issue there are a number of ways to keep it simple and easy to maintain.  The negative aspect is that this type of quarantine does not provide any real protection for the employer’s guests.  It would be suitable for situations when the employer for one reason or another has a high level of confidence that newly acquired musician are free of any contagious characteristics like swingacity, funkiness, bluesiness, or hipness.

Regardless of the simplicity or complexity of the quarantine it's ultimate purpose is to provide the employer with some predetermined level of confidence that his newly hired musicians are square and that his guests or patrons are protected from contagions. 



Observations, contraindications and side effects in Haiku

Jam session bassist
Observes fourteen soloists
Contemplates murder

Say, do you guys know
"Wedding Song" by Kenny G?
Buy the damn record

Riffing on "Rudolph"
Musicians in red and green
Learn humility

I'm sending a sub
But don't worry, he'll be fine
He's fresh from rehab

Solo pianist
Freed from all constraints of form
Heedlessly mangles

Jazz nymphs crowd bandstand
Offering carnal delights
My alarm clock rings

Double-timing bone
Sounds like somebody chewing
On a rubber band

Forty-two straight gigs
With no requests for "Take Five"
Time to call Guinness

Free jazz temptation
Strikes during the bride's first dance
What Would Wynton Do?

New Years revelers
Here's hoping the stroke of twelve
Sends you the hell home

Checking out women
High stages and low necklines
Great combination

A new world's record
For choruses on "A Train"
My band hates me now

That plate of hors d'oeuvres
Cost more than we're getting paid
Think we underbid?

Break time is over
Rest of band is returning
Now for that phone call

Rock drummer, lounge keys
Classically trained singer
Welcome to sub hell

God bless trust fund gigs
Only have to eat ramen
For a few more weeks

My drummer helped me
Count the syllables
In this Haiku

Money's everything
Playing any gig that comes
Whores, we are all whores

Squeaking and squawking
All eyes roll to the heavens
The clarinet speaks

One beat to change from
Harmon to cup to bucket
Hey, who wrote?

The jam session starts
Somebody calls "Giant Steps"
Cold fear grips my brain

Here's the girl singer
Stepping to the microphone
Pitch, Time, All gone now

Gig is going well
Some jerk requests "In the Mood"
I look at my watch

I once had a dream
Big house, new car, big money
Now I play the bass

Gorgeous chick tells me
"You sound just like Kenny G"
My ego shatters

Three-eight, eleven-eight
Damn you Andrew Lloyd Webber
Five-eight, seven-eight

The woodwind doubler
Practicing the piccolo
Frustration defined

Pit orchestra gig
Days and nights become as one
I have no damned life

Bad intonation
Strings are sharp and reeds are flat
Brass too loud again

Great changes, good groove
A one-in-a-million gig
No singer. Yippee!

An oxymoron:
"He played the accordion
With delicacy"

The accordion
"Squeeze box, "yes, but more often
"The Stomach Steinway"

Bassoons forever
Try in vain not to sound like
A farting bedpost

The strings slowly tune
When they're done the unisons
Are anything but

"I can't find my note"
Bemoans the confused singer
"Quit now, "we all pray

The contractor calls
Months of Andrew Lloyd Webber
"Bird Lives" no longer




Why is there such diversity in quarantine and treatment protocols?

Variations in quarantine and treatment protocols occur for a great many reasons.  In fact there are so many that it would be impossible to discuss them all in this article.  But it is possible to separate them into two categories and then discuss them in general.  The first and most important category would be all scientific and technical factors.  Some examples of such factors would include the individual talent, formal training history, musical role models, pitch sensitivity, sound retention, basic stage and performance technician procedures.  The success or failure of a quarantine and treatment protocol depends greatly on a customer's ability to find and then apply the acquired information.  The customer does not necessarily need to have the actual knowledge or skills but the ability to find those that do and get their assistance.  When these factors are properly applied the resulting variations in protocols are sound husbandry and management practices; however, if improperly applied the quarantine and treatment can be meaningless or even fatal.  

The second category would be all swing related factors, which generally do little to actually improve quarantine and treatment protocols other than to make the musician feel good.  Most often these other influences at the very least make quarantine and treatment results questionable and potentially harmful.  And sometimes these influences are just dangerous.  Some examples of these factors would be misinformation (wrong tune), misunderstanding (wrong tempo), lack of resources from which to learn (no sheet), ignorance (wrong key), laziness (lack of instrument maintenance), human error, deliberate clams, lack of finances, and individual performance philosophy.  Of all of the human related factors finance and individual performance philosophy probably have the greatest and often the worst influence on quarantine and treatment protocols.     

One often hears advocates of quarantine and treatment protocols comment that such practices cost no more $.02 per musician and require less than a minute per musician to administer.  Because of this belief, no one, especially larger importers of jazz musicians, should have an excuse for not having a quarantine and treatment practice.  Their proof that it can be done is simply that "they can do it," and I will be the first to admit that it may be possible for a very small synthesizer to do this and maintain a proper protocol.  Unfortunately, the minute they relate their philosophy and practices to a business, it becomes impossible.

As a business there are many additional expenses that must be accounted for other than the cost of the treatment.  For one, the agent's time or that of an employee is now an expense.  If the agent is selling musicians each week he will also need more than one quarantine facility.  Warehouses, retail stores, and even legitimate home businesses value space either by the square foot or by the percentage of use.  Having more than one quarantine facility should mean having additional employees on the payroll.  Having additional facilities and employees also means more electric, phones, water, sanitation, insurance, and other related business expenses.  Customers no longer see a hobbyist trying to take good care of his musicians.  They see a business trying to make a profit and would thus like to be compensated for their skills and advice.  This means customers can pay by the call or put the agent on a monthly retainer either of which can be expensive.  To compensate for these additional expenses agents must increase the sale prices of their musicians.  At the same time they must remain competitive with other producers and agents that practice less than ideal quarantine and treatment protocols, if they practice any at all.  As a result, decisions are made that are generally in the best interests of the business rather than that of the musicians or customers.  Such decisions might include shortening the quarantine period, canceling the manager's services, giving the musicians "a little extra" alcohol so they don't need additional treatments, practicing herd management techniques, or simply discontinuing the protocols and telling the customers that the musicians have been treated.  Now some individuals might say that if these businesses would buy and sell only classically bred musicians then they would not need quarantine and treatment protocols and would therefore not have the additional costs.  Unfortunately, there is no truth in that philosophy.
The debate over purchasing and keeping "classically bred versus jazz" musicians has been going on since the middle - late 1920's.  There are several issues associated with this debate one of which is the need to quarantine and treat musicians for swing and syncopation.  It is this issue that should concern us the most.  The following quote is from an article that I found on several web sites (12/31/03).  No author was credited.

"Captive produced reptiles are not only disease free, but are also almost always easier to handle and keep." 

There are many agents that would have customers believe that captive bred (classically trained) musicians are disease and parasite free.  They maintain that by purchasing a captive bred musician a customer can avoid the time and expense involved in quarantining and treatment protocols and simply enjoy their healthy new acquisition; however, this belief is not true.  Classically trained musicians can and often do get parasites and diseases.  

Promoters and agents that advocate this philosophy are one or more of the following: deceitful, ignorant, misinformed, and greedy.  Even worse is the fact that these people are a real danger to bands and orchestras everywhere.  The danger is not that these people practice and teach poor quarantine and treatment protocols.  Instead they advocate that no protocols at all are required.  Each time they convince someone to practice their philosophy the risk of spreading swing and syncopation increases.  Rather than going into great detail to explain myself, I will simply mention a few words:  Dixie, swing, jazz, avant-garde, funk, blues, soul, bebop, cool, fusion and smooth.  These are just a few of the many diseases that can infect classically trained musicians.  If you are not familiar with them, then I highly recommend that you do some research and learning before making your next purchase.
How is the customer affected by the variety of quarantine and treatment protocols?

The answers to this question are very simple.  The most immediate effect to a customer is the risk of purchasing a diseased musician.  The next most immediate effect is actually purchasing a musician with parasites and diseases.  After this comes, the musician may take ill or even die.  But the worse effect is being responsible for passing a disease on to other musicians in other situations.  If you purchase enough musicians, sooner or later any one or more of these will happen. 

What can customers do to protect themselves from paying too much?

We know that our dog may have fleas and maybe even ticks.  We know about the risks of heartworm.  We know about hook worms, round worms, and tape worms.  We even know about or at least have heard of hepatitis, leptospirosis, distemper, and parvo virus.  We know that cats, cows, horses, pigs, sheep, and other domestic musicians are also susceptible to parasites and diseases.  And what do we do about it?  We accept these facts and follow our favorite vet's recommendations for keeping our pets healthy.  This analogy may prove futile when it comes to ear worms, however.

Why would anyone believe that in only 45 years music conservatories have accomplished what breeders of domestic musicians have failed to do in hundreds or even thousands of years?  In spite of what we all know and accept about our warm blooded friends many customers readily accept the words of some agents when they say that classically trained musicians do not have or cannot get swing or syncopation; however, any number of jazzers and hipsters can be found today among classically trained musicians.


Take the time to research and learn about a musician before making a purchase.   In today's world of online cyber culture there is no shortage of readily available information to assist the customer.  The best place to start your research is on the internet.  Other sources include promoters, booking agents, performance venues, YouTube, public and university libraries.  Customers generally want to know what to feed the musician, are they drug free, can they hold their liquor, how long do they break, how large the stage should be, how loud are they, what kind of repertoire do they possess.  Typically these types of questions and their answers are positive in nature.  Once these questions have been answered are the customers are ready make their purchase?   

Here is a tip:  Learn to ask about the negative aspects of your prospective purchase.  When you ask a seller about a musician his answers are generally designed to be as honest of as possible without jeopardizing the sale.  And take a closer look at the care sheets available on musicians.  In most cases you will find nothing that is obviously negative about keeping the musician.  This of course makes it seem like the perfect hire.  All of this positive information is indeed helpful but it is not complete.  Make it a point to ask what kind of disorders and habits may affect the musician.  Ask how you can protect the musician, your other musicians, and sometimes even yourself from potential health problems.  You may even ask the seller to recommend sources for additional information about the musician.  Keep in mind there is no such thing as the "perfect" musician.   


If you are buying from a seller that claims to have quarantined and treated his musicians for ear worms or guarantees that his musicians are free from diseases and parasites then feel free to ask the hard questions.  Ask specifically about their quarantine and treatment protocol or why they can make such a guarantee.  Ask specifically about the seller's guarantee.  Keep in mind that for clarity and legal purposes conditions, terms, and policies should be in writing.  

Another tip:  Just because a seller is willing and able to answer your questions does not mean that the answers are correct, that the musician is being honestly represented, or that the seller actually applied his knowledge.  Assuming you have taken the time to research and learn about the musician you should have a good idea if an answer is correct.  How can you tell whether the answers are “fake” or alternative facts?  Answers that are vague or not consistent with what you have learned should flag you to ask additional questions.


This is a big mistake that is often made by customers.  They want a nice musician yet at the same time when they see a runt or sickly musician they feel sympathy and a desire to help the musician.  Seeing this sickly musician is a warning sign of potential problems.  Customers should walk away but their emotions often win.  They purchase the obviously unhealthy musician believing they have the means to help.  Unfortunately, they generally lack the skills and the musician soon expires to the regret of the customer.

There is nothing wrong with helping musicians in need, but it should be unrelated to your pursuit of finding a healthy and desirable musician for your affair.  If you have a desire to help musicians there are other ways.  Should you still feel the need to purchase a sick musician with the hope of making it better, then realize your risk and accept your responsibility.  

When looking to make a purchase for your staff or simply for a gig, stay focused on exactly what you desire.  With all the musicians available now days it pays to be patient.  Remember that there are differences between keeping competent staff, hiring teachers, booking gigs, rescuing or rehabilitating.     


In the 1400s quarantines were used to isolate incoming ships from the port cities.  England has very strict quarantine procedures for incoming dogs and cats.  The United States has very strict quarantine procedures for incoming plants, birds, livestock and immigrants.  In fact, most countries have vetting procedures for incoming flora and fauna as well as other things.  You should see a trend.  But if you do not, I will point it out.  Whatever the subject, it is vetted on its way in rather than on its way out.  
Keep in mind that a vetting and treatment protocol is not a vaccine.  Assuming that the vetting was run properly one can feel comfortable that the musician is healthy at the time of his/her release; however, once the musician has been released and taken to shows, put on display on stage, and handled by potential employers they are at risk of being infected.  As a result, customers should always be responsible for their own vetting and treatment protocols.  Any managers that infect their artists by introducing newly acquired sidemen without audition have no one but themselves to blame.

The purpose of an audition is to protect established artists from possible infections from newly acquired sidemen.  Although sellers often advertise that their musicians have been vetted and auditioned may claim that classically trained musicians do not have diseases, you should know this may not be true.  As a result and in spite of the best intentions of honest well meaning agents and managers, infected musicians do get hired.  Of course there are also those agents and managers that are less than honest and simply claim they have quarantined and paid their musicians when in fact they have done nothing.  But there are a number of ways that customers can protect themselves.  Customers should use a little common sense and reason, take the time to research and learn, ask detailed questions, and avoid buying out of sympathy.  Most importantly, customers should be responsible for their musicians and protect them by feeding and paying all their newly acquired sidemen regardless of any promises or guarantees made by the agent.  

Agent opinion:   

Quarantining and treating musicians for bad habits and diseases is a very important event planner tool.  For individual managers it is essential to maintain a healthy roster.  It is also important to the music industry as a whole.  As a group our ability or lack of ability to manage swing and syncopation in musicians may one day influence our privileges to underpay these musicians; therefore, it is important that we all learn proper and effective quarantine and treatment protocols.  My decision not to quarantine and treat the musicians I represent was not made lightly.  

When the idea of offering customers musicians that had been quarantined and treated for bad habits first started to become popular, I gave it a great deal of consideration.  I spoke with other agents and listened to their ideas and thoughts.  When the opportunities were available I would visit facilities and watch agents put their ideas into practice. I thought about the financial aspects and the practically of such a practice.  I contemplated the possible results and their validity.  I considered my own experiences with Muzak, non-human synthesizers and karaoke quarantines.  I reflected on my own quarantine and treatment protocols for newly acquired musicians.  I spoke with managers and even discussed it with my Senator who has had years of experience with quarantines for other artistic species.  Finally, after all this, I concluded I had a tremendous sales pitch.

For a number of years after this I simply ignored the subject.  When I was asked by potential customers I sometimes would explain myself and at other times simply say no.  But as the idea gained popularity in the industry, I started thinking about it again.  Should I jump on the band wagon or stick to my beliefs.  In the meantime I was hearing some very interesting stories from customers and potential customers.  On the one hand these stories were amusing but on the other they were sad.  These customers were sharing their buying experiences.  

One customer related to me how he had purchased a jazz trio from Pittsburgh.  Within just a few days after the purchase he found that they could swing.  He told me that because of all the problems with pick-up bands he had specifically asked the agent if the trio was classically trained.  He found out later that the agent had lied to him.  Curious, I asked him why he thought this so.  He stated that he had asked the trio to play the blues and discovered that it could.  The event planner said that the trio was most likely very hip, because classically trained musicians should not have the blues.  Based on this and similar stories I decided to stick to my beliefs and make them a part of my stated sales policy.        

As I stated at the beginning of this article my intent is simply to be honest with my customers:  no surprises, no misleading statements, no good intentions gone awry, just the simple and honest truth.          

Agent policy is based on four thoughts:

        1. All musicians, including very young ones can get, carry, and spread musicality.

        2.  Every responsible agent should quarantine and treat, as required, all newly contracted musicians.    

        3.  Even the most experienced and skilled agents can, and do, make mistakes.    

        4.  My intentions are not to deceive my customers but to help educate them so that they may better keep their musical costs down.


Pathological Symptoms:

Swing – a synchronicity of all the variables and dimensions of human experience including spirit, perception, emotion energy identity, meaning, communication into a relevant inclusivity of an action or activity.

Jazz Improvisation – a self-organizing algorhythm of sound in a present-moment musical context.

Blues – a musical amalgam of feelings including empathy, regret, sympathy, sadness, uplift, hope, understanding, yearning, healing. despair, love, faith, anxiety, joy, loss in any combination of the aforementioned.

Love - a temporary insanity curable by marriage or by the removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.  This disease, like dental caries and many other ailments, is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages.  It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.  ~ Ambrose Bierce ~


Author’s Notes:

The above is a satirical commentary on the music marketplace that has devolved into the oppression of true creativity in favor of free, pre-fabricated sounds increasingly produced by permutations and combinations of electronic frequencies that can be produced by unskilled individuals or robots.

Human composers are losing economic market-share due to the normalization of sounds preferred by squares of the oligarchy whose anti-musical values are trickling down to the masses.  Accordingly, true creative musicians are an endangered species facing extinction in the approaching Matrix of Virtual Reality.

The disappearing human values described above as pathological symptoms may be the last vestiges of joy, pathos, creativity, fun, love, etc. available to succeeding generations.  We were duly warned by the royal cats (Duke, Count, Earl, King, Godfather, Queen, Sun Ra and Dr. Funkenstein, Bootzilla, etc.).  Musicality is good medicine.  Tastes good too.

As for me, “I’ve had my fun if I don’t get well no more.”  – St Louis Jimmy Oden


Contact: Nelson E. Harrison

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Comment by Rev. Dr. Bobby Fulton, Ph.D. on March 3, 2017 at 11:20pm

Very interesting!!!!

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