The Band Room

Volume 123, No. 4April, 2023

Bill Crow

Royce Campbell sent me this:

I love your “Jazz Anecdotes” book. I was Henry Mancini’s guitarist for 19 years. I don’t know if you’ve heard any stories of Mancini’s wit but here’s a good one. He was eating in a restaurant and this couple came up to the table and the husband said, “This is a bit embarrassing to say, but my wife and I used to make love to ‘Dear Heart.’” Mancini said, “She must not be very satisfied, because that track is only two minutes and 30 seconds long!”

Here’s another example of Mancini’s wit. We were having dinner together before a concert in Akron, Ohio. It was common for fans to come up to him during dinners to shake his hand. So this guy is heading for the table and we assume for Mancini. But he went straight to the sax player, offered his hand and said, “Aren’t you Al Cobine? I’ve played your arrangements. I like your music.” Then he turned and walked away, totally ignoring Mancini, who then calmly looked over to Al and said, “Okay, Al, I’ll give you Akron.”


Jeanie Perkins posted on Facebook:

I gave my little grandson his first piano lesson yesterday. I was just trying to teach him a major scale, but he repeatedly refused to stop until he got to 13! Future jazzer, for sure.


A message from Michael Weiss:

In the 1980’s I was hired to provide a jazz band, a five-piece combo with no amplification, for a wedding reception in one of those humongous Brooklyn catering halls in Bay Ridge, easily the size of an airplane hangar. As guests started to come in the door, we eased into the five-hour engagement with a bossa nova. Within seconds a big burly guy runs over to us and yells, threateningly, “Pick it up! Pick it up!!” A moment later I spotted a frail elderly man from far away, very slowly making his way to the bandstand for what seemed like an eternity. He finally arrived and I was thinking he was going to request a song. After what seemed like another eternity, getting his mind and voice coordinated, he finally blurted out, “You guys STINK!” and he turned around and shuffled away. Four and a half hours to go.


Christine Keller posted:

Strangest gig of 2022 for me was last week. While I was playing acoustic grand piano in a fine restaurant, an elderly lady approached me and asked, “Is this live music or is the music piped in?” When I was able, I responded “Yes ma’am, I am actually playing this piano!” She then asked if there was a volume control dial on the piano; said her friends couldn’t hear each other speak at their table nearby.


In 1984 Bob Alberti was dispatched to New Orleans to conduct an orchestra for the Bob Hope Show at the World’s Fair. He said, the band shell was directly on the riverfront, and as they were pre-recording, Bob heard a C natural seemingly coming from the trombone section. Upon stopping, they all said they had only C# on their part. During the course of the recording Bob heard it again. It turned out, there was a boat docked directly behind the band shell whose whistle was a perfect C natural. Bob apologized to the trombone section while the producer begged the captain not to blow the whistle while the orchestra was playing. Problem solved!


When pianist Judd Woldin was booking a private party, he agreed to work solo, but said it would be better with a bass player. When he told the lady how much it would cost, she said, “Well, I usually pay that amount for a large bouquet of flowers, so we’ll just do without the flowers.” So, Judd told me, “I just wanted you to know, you’re subbing for a bouquet.”


Gregory Waits posted this:

One night after a late gig Vince Giordano started up his old Volkswagen squareback only to find that the cable from the gas pedal to the throttle had snapped. The engine ran okay, but nothing happened when he pushed on the gas pedal. Since the car was open to the engine compartment in the back, he was able to take a string from his bass, tie one end to the throttle, wrap the other end around a drumstick and drive home using his hand as a gas pedal.


Steve Hunter sent a note from Canada:

Back when stewards were appointed on every gig, you had to fill out a standard form. One of the lines was “describe any unusual occurrences.” The usual joke was, “the band swung.”


Lin McPhillips posted this story:

In 1943, Johnny Mercer, after his breakup with the very young Judy Garland, wrote the great torch/saloon song “One for My Baby.” He wrote it on a napkin while drinking at the bar in P. J. Clark’s on Third Avenue in Manhattan. Tom Joyce was the bartender that night and, Mercer reportedly called Joyce the following day and apologized, saying he couldn’t get Tom’s name to rhyme. Seems “Set ‘em up, Tom,” just didn’t work as well as “Set ‘em up, Joe.