The Band Room

Volume 121, No. 5May, 2021

Bill Crow


Roy Haynes recently celebrated his 96th Birthday. He has been a premier jazz drummer since he was in his 20s, and is still at the top of the heap. Here are two stories about him that I found on the internet.

In a long post about Roy on Facebook, Benny Green told this story:

Roy played a breathtaking symphony on the drums for about eight minutes, after which the crowd was on their feet in an uproar, and Roy walked in front of his drums and sounded the final triumphant note by back-kicking the front head of his bass drum with his right boot. He walked back to where I was standing in awe. In somewhat of a daze after what I’d just witnessed, I said to Roy very slowly and deliberately, “I just realized where all that slick stuff that Tony Williams is playing on his hi-hat on ‘Seven Steps To Heaven’ came from.” To which, with no hesitation whatsoever, Roy replied: “Man, you just NOW getting hip to that s***? I may not be the hippest m.f. in the world, but actually, if you think about it, ain’t no m.f.’s hipper than ME!”

Steve Brown posted this on Facebook (referring to Roy’s talent for dancing):

I was in a Master class with Roy Haynes, and before he said a word he just started to hoof, and it was amazing. Then he asked us a question, “What is the most important part of the drum set?”

Now, there were some hip drummers in that class and I don’t think anybody gave the right answer.

“The SEAT!” said Roy.


Gary Solt told Jack Stuckey about working shows with reedman Sal Spicola in Boston. He said that while getting ready for a show, Sal would play incredible lines on each of his instruments. Gary asked him, “What is that?” Sal said, “Warmups.” “Geez,” said Gary, “that’s a lot of notes for a warmup.” Sal replied, “I like to warm them all up at the same time.”


John Perilli sent me this one: 

In the early 1970s, I was working in Boston at the Schubert theatre, on a pre-Broadway break-in with the show “Molly.” I was playing drums, and the great Freddy Buda was playing percussion. He mentioned one day he would be out of town on a matinee day, for two shows. He brought in a student to check out the book, as I recall his name was Ben. Ben played the show well, but he rushed everything he played. In the middle of the first act the lead trumpet player, Ray Katwika turned to me and asked, “John can’t you do anything about that guy’s rushing?” I replied, “You can’t do anything about that, Ray, that’s innate.” Ray replied, “In eight? Well tell him to take it in four!


A friend of Joe Lang’s told him:

I was at jazz event in the L.A. area in an elevator with a gentleman, and trumpeter Pete Candoli. When the elevator stalled, the gentleman said “I’m a judge, and we’ll be moving shortly.” I countered that I was with the FBI, but Pete topped us, saying, “I’m from Sicily.”


I was browsing through some of my old columns, and thought I would reprint a couple of items that some readers might have missed:

I recently got acquainted with Jo DeRisi, the widow of the late, great trumpeter Al DeRisi. I’d never met her while Al was alive, but I ran across her on the Prodigy service’s music bulletin board and introduced myself, since Al and I were old friends. We began chatting, via the bulletin board, about mutual friends, and I struck a chord with Jo when I mentioned my old pal from the Gerry Mulligan band, Nick Travis. She said that Al and Nick had been inseparable friends. “When Al and I were going together, I asked him if I was going with him, or with him and Nick Travis,” she wrote. “I think Nick was everybody’s best friend. One time, after Al and I had been married for quite a while, Nick and I went into Joe Harbor’s bar, where we were to meet Al. We were talking very seriously about something, and Joe Harbor called Nick over to the bar and said, ‘Man, what are you doing? That’s DeRisi’s wife!’ “ Jo said they all laughed about it when Al came in and hugged them both.


On his first tour with Judy Garland, Bill Lavorgna finished an afternoon rehearsal at the Mosque Theatre in Newark and went out for dinner, still dressed in his street clothes. When he returned to the theatre, a security guard at the stage entrance stopped him. “You can’t go in there,” he said. “But I’m with the show!” protested Bill. The guard was dubious. Bill explained that his tuxedo was already inside, in the dressing room. The guard still held his ground. Bill looked through the open door and saw Judy’s manager backstage. He yelled for help, and the manager persuaded the guard to let him in.

Once Bill was inside, the manager insisted on bringing him to Judy’s dressing room so she could hear the story. When he told her, Judy fell down laughing. “He did the same thing to me!” she said. “I had my hair up in rollers with a scarf over it, and the guy wouldn’t believe I was Judy Garland! I had to sing him four choruses of ‘Over the frigging Rainbow’ before he’d let me in!”