The Band Room
Volume 120, No. 9October, 2020
Back in the 1940s Randy Brooks had a popular big band that featured his trumpet playing. He prided himself on his powerful high register. When they played an engagement in Montreal, Randy made a publicity guest appearance during the day with a band at the local radio station. At the rehearsal, they went over one of the numbers that featured Randy’s high notes. After they took a lunch break, Randy headed back to the studio with his drummer, Buzzy Bridgford, who had accompanied him. Buzzy told me that, as they approached the studio door, they heard a trumpet playing Randy’s parts an octave higher than they were written! That was their introduction to young Maynard Ferguson, who was in the studio band.
Charlie Camilleri told Gabe Villani that he was on the Maynard Ferguson band when Carmen Leggio got up to take a solo and just stood there. Someone said, “Carmen, your solo,” and Carmen said, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Gabe later ran into Carmen at Birdland at the bar, and asked him if this was true. Carmen said, “No, it was Charlie that it happened to.”
By the way, an Italian friend of mine on Facebook tells me that “leggio” is the Italian word for “music stand.”
Tim Wendt told, on Facebook, about a wedding band gig he had in California. He was walking across the dance floor toward the bandstand with his trumpet case slung over his shoulder when he heard a voice from behind him: “YOU’RE TOO LOUD!” He looked around and saw the event coordinator, who shouted again, “YOU’RE TOO LOUD!” He said, “Excuse me? I haven’t played a note yet.” She said, “You’re the trumpet player, right? I can tell just by the way you’re walking that you’ll be TOO LOUD! DON’T BE!”
Also on Facebook, Sal Lozano told about a party he once played with the Ray Anthony band at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Marshal Royal was the lead alto player, and Sal watched him get a glass of vodka with a large olive in it just before they were to go on stage. Then a lady came up and told them there were to be no drinks on the bandstand. Marshal turned his back to her, pulled the olive out of his drink and gulped it down whole. He then asked the lady, “How about water?” “Water’s fine,” she said, and Marshal took his place with his glass of “water.”
Lou Donaldson, in his Smithsonian oral history interview, describes this as occurring in a place called the Paradise:
When Charlie Parker came in, there were about ten saxophone players on the stand, and all of them ran, you know, like a rattlesnake was coming in there. I was getting ready to get off the stand too, and he said, “No, you play with me.” I said, “Man, I’m not playing with you.” He said, “Yeah. If you don’t play, I’m not going to play.” So the manager comes by and says, “Man, you’ve got to play now, because Bird says he’s not going to play if you don’t play.” I said, “Ok.” So we played a couple of tunes, “I Got Rhythm” or something. I played, and he leaned over to me and said, “Man, what was that you played on that thing? That was some nice stuff.” It was stuff I had copied off one of his records! So I said to myself, “Is he pulling my leg, or is he really sincere?” That’s when I realized the guy was a genius. He didn’t really remember.
Roger Middleton played trumpet for a few summers in the Poconos, first with Bobby Newman at Mount Airy Lodge and later with Bob Boucher at Tamiment. He was playing a round of golf at Tamiment one day with leader Boucher and fellow trumpeter Chris Griffin when Chris hit a horrific shank deep into the woods. Chris muttered crossly, “What the hell’s happened to my golf game?” Bob, in his most sepulchral tones, replied “This IS your golf game, Christopher!”
Lou Caputo posted this on Facebook:
I was on a gig with Sal Nistico once and an over zealous fan kept firing questions at Sal. Sal was trying to be patient. When the guy ran out of things to talk about he asked Sal, “Your family is from Sicily, right?” Sal said, “yes.” He then asked, “Where in Sicily?” Sal said, “Catania.” The guy asked, “What crops do they grow around there? Sal looked at the guy and said, “WHAT CROPS DO THEY GROW? ROCKS!! IF THEY COULD GROW ANYTHING, THEY WOULDN’T HAVE COME HERE!”
And Sal Lozano told this story on Facebook:
Gene Cipriano was sitting next to flutist Arthur Gleghorn on a movie session in Los Angeles, which was conducted by Bernard Hermann. Gene told me, after they rehearsed a passage on which Gleghorn played piccolo, Hermann said to him, “Mr. Gleghorn, I do not like metal piccolos in my orchestra. Please use a wooden piccolo.”
On a break, Gleghorn got some black tape from an engineer and covered his piccolo with it. When they resumed rehearsal and he played his piccolo, Hermann flashed him an OK sign.