a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History

Mr. P.C.

Music: John Coltrane

Vocals: Instrumental

Original Artist: John Coltrane

Original Album: Giant Steps (1960)

Debut: 1988-07-30

Historian: Kazimierz O. Wrzeszczynski

“Mr. P.C.,” a jazz classic, first appeared on John Coltrane’s debut record Giant Steps. This song and most of Giant Steps come from recording sessions in the spring of 1959 while John Coltrane was still a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, but had recently signed his own first major recording contract with Atlantic Records. The title of the composition comes from the nickname Coltrane called the extraordinary bassist of the Miles Davis Quintet, Paul Chambers, who also appears prominently on this record. 

“Mr. P.C.” has become a major vehicle for jazz improvisation or all-out jam sessions. Most every jazz musician knows the very familiar chords at the song’s centerpiece and whenever a spontaneous jam arises and the assembled group of musicians is struggling for something to play, somebody is bound to yell out “PC!” 

Whether or not this is what occurred on the first two Phish performances of the piece (7/30/88 Telluride, CO and 11/11/88 Newmarket, NH) is unknown, but one can only believe that with Carl Gerhard and Russ Remington aboard for the latter performance some serious jamming was experienced. Again "Mr P.C.," Spider-Man and Carl Gerhard showed up to save the day when during a power outage at the Campus Club on 5/17/91 the band was forced to improvise with a drum and trumpet jam which spontaneously evolves into "Mr. P.C." being played until power was restored.

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