The Band Room
Volume 120, No. 10November, 2020
Here’s a story Steve Brauner got from his dad, Buzzy:
The Tommy Dorsey band bus was traveling over the Canadian border with Tommy’s mom aboard. At the checkpoint, a customs agent wanted to check Ma Dorsey’s bag. She refused, saying in her Irish accent “Young man, do you know who I am? I’m Mrs. Dorsey!” The customs agent replied, “I don’t care if you’re the Queen of England, I’ve got to look in your bag.” Mrs. Dorsey replied “You’re not looking in my bag. You can turn this bus upside down and you can turn me upside down, and the only thing you’ll find is an old Irish ass, and you can kiss it!”
Buzzy also told him that Tommy Dorsey wasn’t interested in bebop, and told the band, “Don’t be playing any of that bo-peep music.”
Brad Goode posted this on Facebook:
Nobody looked up to the late Ira Sullivan more than saxophonist Lin Halliday. Ira introduced Lin and me at the Blackstone Hotel in 1985. We bonded immediately, and I started playing with Lin, Donald Rafael Garrett and Robert Barry. We were playing at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge when Lin started having trouble with the keys on his tenor. He couldn’t get any notes out, and went into a bit of a panic. I took a set break, and Ira asked Lin to give him the horn. Lin and I followed Ira into the basement of the club, where Ira held the horn up close to a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. He then handed the horn back to Lin, who played a few notes and became unusually excited, maybe even ecstatic. For the rest of his life, Lin Halliday swore that Ira Sullivan had psychically healed his saxophone in the cellar of the Green Mill, simply by holding it up to the light.
Dan Barrett has an Australian jazz guitarist friend named Ian who has lived in Cork, Ireland for many years. When Ian heard that Dan would be in Europe for a while, he invited him to stay with him and play a few gigs with him around Cork. Daniel Patrick Barrett simply couldn’t refuse!
After he arrived, he found out that one of those gigs would be just Ian and Dan, playing in a hotel. Dan didn’t know what the situation would be, and thought a cup mute might be beneficial for soft background music. The trouble was, he didn’t have one with him.
Ian drove Dan into Cork to the one small music store in town. He parked near the store and told Dan he’d meet him at a nearby coffee house. When Dan entered the store, he was greeted by two young women and an older woman who was standing between them.
“Good afternoon. How are all of you today?”
The young women smiled. The older woman’s gruff reply was, “What do you want?”
Dan said she looked a little like Marie Dressler as Tugboat Annie. He smiled and said, “I’m visiting from southern California! I’m a long way from home, eh? Ha, ha. I have a friend who lives just outside of Cork. I’m a professional musician, on a tour.”
She said again, a little more sharply, “What is it you want?”
“Well,” Dan said, “I’m a trombone player. I’m looking for a certain type of mute for the trombone. It’s–”
“Mary!” The woman said to the girl on her left. “Go get the mute! It’s in the back, on the top shelf. It says trombone on the box.”
Mary went off like a shot.
“Here it is, Ma,” Mary said. She held up a rectangular box. It had a big picture of a mute on the side. It was indeed a mute for a trombone, a straight mute.
“Here’s yer mute,” said Ma. “It’s forty pounds. Pay over there.” She pointed to a cash register on top of a glass counter across the room. The other daughter had already hurried over to ring it up.
“Well, please…” Dan tried. “I keep trying to tell you: I’m looking for a cup mute. This is a straight mute. I need a cup mute, if you have one.”
Ma looked at him with a scowl and said, “This is the last mute we have in the store. You’re lucky! You should buy this one!”
“I’m sorry… I just have no use for it. But thank you…” Dan began backing toward the door. As he went out, still trying to be a goodwill ambassador, he said, “Thanks again, very much!” Just before the door closed behind him, Dan heard Ma shout, “I’ll have you know, this is the most popular mute in Ireland!”
Dan had time to say, “Yes, I’m sure it is,” before the door closed. He stood there in the rain for a minute, and started laughing out loud. The most popular mute in Ireland!