The Band Room

Volume 122, No. 6June, 2022

Bill Crow

This excerpt from “Jazz Modernism” by Alfred Appel was posted on Facebook by Gaspare Di Lieto:

The house was almost full, even before the opening set  —  Billy Taylor’s piano trio  —  except for the conspicuous empty table to my right, which bore a RESERVED sign, which was unusual for Birdland. After Taylor finished his set, a party of four men and a woman settled in at that table, rather clamorously. Three waiters swooped in quickly to take their orders as a ripple of whispers and exclamations ran through Birdland at the sight of one of the men, Igor Stravinsky.

Stravinsky was a celebrity, and an icon to jazz fans, because he had sanctified modern jazz by composing “Ebony Concerto” for Woody Herman and his Orchestra (1946).

As Parker’s quintet walked onto the bandstand, trumpeter Red Rodney recognized Stravinsky, sitting front and almost center. Rodney leaned over and told Parker, who did not look at Stravinsky. Parker immediately called the first number for his band, and, forgoing his customary greeting to the crowd, was off like a shot.

At the sound of the opening notes, played in unison by trumpet and alto, a chill went up and down the back of my neck. They were playing “KoKo,” which, because of its breakneck tempo, Parker never assayed it before his second set, when he was sufficiently warmed up.

Parker’s phrases were flying as fluently as ever on this particular “Koko.” At the beginning of his second chorus, he interpolated the opening of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite as though it had always been there, a perfect fit, and then sailed on with the rest of the number.

Stravinsky roared with delight, pounding his glass on the table. The upward arc of the glass sent its liquor and ice cubes onto the people behind him, who threw up their hands and ducked.


Chuck Erdahl posted on Facebook:

I was on a bus and truck tour with a Broadway show, traveling from Wilkes-Barre to Schenectady. We stopped for a few minutes at the hotel where the stars were staying, to pick them up. One orchestra member, unnoticed, jumped off the bus to grab a newspaper. The company manager had already counted the 25 people on the bus, and so they left without anyone noticing that the musician wasn’t on board. Realizing he had been abandoned, he rented a car and made it to the gig.

London baritone sax player Ronnie Ross told Keith Bishop that he once was called to dub a solo on a rock date. The producers had him play a solo take after take. Finally they called him into the booth and explained that he wasn’t getting the sound and approach that they were looking for. They wanted him to sound like the bari soloist on a particular Rod Stewart record that they had. Ronnie told them that he was the bari soloist on that record.


John Demas reposted this ad on Facebook:

THE BAND is in need of a guitar player. We got gigs lined up and need a guitar player ASAP. No questions no BS just send picture, photo ID, social media, links of YOU playing, photo, phone # and we will send you a set list. Guitar player will do what they’re told NO BACK TALK. We practice all hours of the night and you MUST be flexible. Once you are a member you are not allowed to be in any other band. NO FILL-INS! You do what we say no questions or excuses. We say play Jimi, you play Jimi. We say dance, YOU DANCE! We tell you what to wear you wear it no DRAMA! Send us samples and all your info or NO AUDITION! Sorry we don’t have time for questions. SERIOUS INQUIRYS ONLY


We’ve all heard the story about the clubowner who was surprised that the piano player complained about the condition of the piano. “What do you mean,” he said, “I had it painted yesterday!” Here’s a variation on that theme: Bill Morrison was playing at a place a few miles north of Boston. He arrived the same time as the piano player. The owner came up to the pianist, all excited, and said “Hey, I got those pedals for the piano that you were talking about!” The pianist looked under the piano and said, “Yeah, but you didn’t attach them to anything!”


Michael Petrosino told about a jazz trio gig he was on. While they were setting up, two women walked in and immediately threw their hands up over their ears. None of the musicians were tuning up or playing anything yet, but the women complained loudly about the loud musicians. And of course, they chose a table right in front of the drums. That was when the trio knew it was going to be a long night.


One night when Al Cohn and Zoot Sims were playing at the Half Note, Zoot was feeling so merry at the end of the night that, when the rest of the band had packed up and headed for the door, Zoot was still on the bandstand, playing and swinging all by himself. As Al started out the door, he turned and called out, “Zoot! Take off the red shoes!”