In October 1952, Stan Getz returned to the East Coast from a summer in California. He called his guitar player, Jimmy Raney, and said, “I’ve got a week in Boston at the Hi-Hat. Get a bass player and come on up.” I was just finishing a job at the Iroquois Hotel that Jimmy was on, and he hired me. We went up to Boston and played a week with Stan, with Roy Haynes on drums and Jerry Kaminsky on piano. Stan kept me on the band, and we went into Birdland in New York for a week. Roy was living in Boston, so Stan replaced him with Frank Isola, and Duke Jordan was our piano player. After that week, the band recorded for a few days and then played a week in Baltimore, and then we came home to New York for a week off. On Monday of that week, Stan called me and said some band had cancelled their booking at Birdland, so we were going in there again for a week. When I went in on Tuesday to set up, I found Kenny Clarke setting up his drums, and I assumed Frank Isola had turned down the gig because he had another booking somewhere. We played the first set, which was broadcast on the radio, as Birdland did every Tuesday night. When I was setting up for the second set, I saw Frank Isola sitting in the “peanut gallery” beside the bandstand. “Hey, Frank,” I said, “What’s up?” Frank shrugged and said, “I don’t know. I turned on the radio and found out I was fired!”
On Facebook, Martin Dalmasi posted this comment:
Jimmy Heath told us about a drunken woman in Philly. She staggered up to the band and said, “I don’t know what the hell in the world you all are playing, but HE (pointing to Clifford Brown) is playing the HELL out of it!” Jimmy told us, smiling, “This is the effect Brownie had on people.”
And Rex Denton posted the following:
I played a wedding gig with Mark Templeton, who has played with Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard. We had a good rhythm section, but it was pretty much a GB gig. We were playing a nice inside bossa when this blue haired lady came up to Mark and started screaming, “Soft pedal! SOFT PEDAL!” Mark burst out laughing. The lady carried on with that after she sat back down at her table.
Ted O’Reilly sent me a message from Canada:
Toronto’s fine trumpeter/flugelist Guido Basso passed away a couple of weeks back. This anecdote is from an obituary in the Globe & Mail (a Canadian national newspaper) by Brad Wheeler:
In 1990, The Tonight Show trumpeter Doc Severinsen flew to Toronto on a matter of urgent business. He was infatuated with a version of ”Portrait of Jennie,” an all-out flugelhorn number performed by the Canadian big band orchestra Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass. The sublime talent of Guido Basso was showcased on the recording, and Mr. Severinsen wanted Mr. Basso’s evocative sound.
Mr. Basso had arranged to sell Doc a French Besson flugelhorn. To facilitate the transaction, Basso had four of them laid out on his pool table when Johnny Carson’s bandleader arrived by limousine. After sampling the instruments, Mr. Severinsen then began playing a trumpet. Seizing the opportunity, Mr. Basso began opening all the windows to his living room. “I wanted my neighbors to think it was me playing the trumpet!” he later explained.
What Wheeler didn’t know was the rest of the story…when Severinsen then picked up a flugelhorn to play, Guido, with a big smile on his face, ran around closing the windows!
Donna Shore posted this on Facebook
When one hears Carmen McRae play piano it is easy to see why she was so critical of her accompanists. Alan Broadbent recalled being hired to play for her, early in his career. He was terrified, and he anticipated her scrutiny. At one point, he played a solo, and instead of taking her cue, she stared at him, mouth agape. He expected a tirade, but instead heard her say, “That was beautiful!”
Donna originally left the pianist unnamed when she posted this, (“he shall remain nameless because I don’t want to embarrass him”) but Alan added a comment: “You can mention me, Donna.”
Reid Hoyson posted this:
In Pittsburgh, there is a summer jazz series at the Homewood Library. I played it a few years ago with Richie Cole. The band played on the sidewalk at the bottom of the library steps, while the audience sat on the other side of the street in a parking lot, and also on the sidewalk. We were in the middle of our set when a Port Authority bus drove up and stopped right in front of the band, between us and our audience. The driver opened the door and sat and listened for a few minutes. Then he smiled, clapped in appreciation, closed the bus door and drove off.
Keith Bishop wrote:
Sometimes you have to take whatever amusement you can get on a gig. I played in the orchestra accompanying a choir recently. At the rehearsal the choir director kept asking people out in the house if they could hear the choir clearly above the orchestra. Every time he posed the question, the response he got from the house was, “What?!” It made me laugh.
From Jon-Erik Kellso:
On a tour in Holland, I felt that the bass players I heard tended to over-amplify themselves. At one point, when I was in Amsterdam, I thought to myself, “Great, another ampster. Damn!”