The Band Room

Volume 122, No. 10November, 2022

Bill Crow

Marcus Miller wrote this tribute to the late Joey DeFrancesco: 

Here’s one of my favorite memories — Miles Davis brought Joey to the studio to work on “Amandla,” an album I was producing for him back in ‘88. Joey was just 17 years old, and he was already an incredible organist and keyboard player. He was swinging his tail off even back then.

A year later, I brought Miles to perform on David Sanborn’s “Night Music” TV show. During a break, I was kicking it in the dressing room with Miles and Joey. Miles had brought him along to hang out with us. Out of nowhere Miles said, “Check this out,” and he handed his trumpet to Joey, who proceeded to play the hell out of it! I asked, “When did you start playing trumpet?!” He said, “A few months ago.” I said, “I few MONTHS AGO?” Miles was sitting there with a proud look on his face, knowing he had just blown my mind.

David Sanborn told me that years later, Joey called him and said he’d been messing with the tenor sax, and he played it over the phone. Dave said he sounded incredible. Then Joey said, “I think my uncle has an alto sax in the closet. I’m thinking about fooling around with that.” A month later, Joey sent Dave a tape of himself just wailing on the alto.

Joey D.! The tools didn’t matter. He could create beauty with whatever was in his hands.


Tom Grimm posted this on Facebook:

Some years ago, while I was driving home from a tennis match, I turned on the radio and caught what was a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Count Basie’s birth. They were interviewing alumnae of the Basie band. One of the players talked about Basie’s management style. Basie would assign a veteran player to mentor newcomers. The core message was that the Count had several rules. The first rule was to listen to Freddie Green, the guitar player, and if you did that, you wouldn’t need the other rules. Basie often said, “If you can’t hear Freddie, you’re playing too loud.”


And Peter Leitch posted this:

In 1967 I took the bus from Montreal to New York, to take a lesson with Jim Hall. I was expecting an hour at most. He kept me there for most of the afternoon and was very generous with information, insight, and honest answers to my musical questions. At the end of the afternoon, he made sandwiches for us! I left there with enough to work on, think about and practice for years.

Forward to 1994. Jim and I were both teaching at a summer guitar workshop in York, UK. I asked Jim if I could come into his class. He said I could come in, but he would have to put me to work. He handed me a guitar and had me play chords and comp for him while he demonstrated motivic improvisation, among other things, to the students. I learned at least as much as they did.


Rick Faulkner was playing with a New Orleans-style brass band on the street in Harlem, at the opening of an art exhibit dedicated to Harlem heroes of the pandemic. He posted: “We hit a good groove right away, and after a couple of tunes we had drawn a nice crowd of neighborhood folks. I saw an old lady with a walker coming up the street towards us. The next thing I knew, the walker rolled past us, unmanned, and the lady had staked out the sidewalk as her personal dance floor, shaking her booty and generally getting down. I wish I’d been able to get a video.”


Phil Seamen was a well-known British drummer about whom many bizarre stories have been told. One of the most famous took place in a London theatre. Phil had nodded off in the pit during a long bit of dialogue, and when he awoke, he thought he heard his cue to strike a loud gong. He struck it. Then, as everyone looked at him, he realized he was in the wrong place in the score. He promptly stood up and announced, “Dinner is served.”


On Facebook, Rod Baum posted this story:

The late Adrian Kerridge (Lansdowne Studio, London) was working on his board one day and heard a commotion outside the studio door. The studio was one level below the surface at Lansdowne House. Bang! Crash! And the door was flung open. He turned to see Phil Seamen with a cymbal case under his arm. Phil said, “Where’s the effin’’ band then?” Adrian replied, “Next week, Phil, next week.”


A friend of Gary Fuller’s was playing dinner music on the deck of an outdoor restaurant. A patron reached OVER the tip jar and dropped two one-dollar bills into his half-full cup of coffee.