Bill Crow’s Band Room

Volume CVII, No. 10October, 2007

Bill Crow

William Zinn sent me another story about Boris Malina: After the guests had a sumptuous chicken dinner at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills one evening, the band played a 10 p.m. show. When they were finished, Zinn and four other musicians packed their instruments and headed for Zinn’s two-door white Volvo, which he had parked behind the hotel’s back door. Zinn always left the car unlocked because the driver’s side door lock was broken. When he opened the door, he discovered a shopping bag on the front seat, filled with a roast chicken, french fries, pies, cakes, and fruit. He assumed that Boris Malina, the contractor, had provided the food as a thank you present for a gig well played.

The musicians wolfed down the food on the way back toward the city, and stopped at the famous Red Apple Rest on Route 17 to slake their thirst at the water fountain there. Zinn noticed Malina at one of the tables and walked over, intending to thank him for the bag of food. Malina interrupted with an angry denunciation of the busboy at the Concord. Malina had given him $2 to pack a bag of food for him and put it in his car. Malina thought the busboy had failed him, and was furious. Unfortunately, Malina also was driving a white two-door car, and had parked it by the kitchen door, near Zinn’s Volvo. Realizing what had happened, Zinn and his companions held their laughter until they got back to the car, and then laughed all the way back to New York. They agreed to tell no one, and Boris never found out what really happened to his bag of food.

Zinn’s story about Malina in an earlier column prompted Joe Bennett to send me some memories of the infamous contractor. He said Boris played the trombone just well enough to work at the Palace when it was a vaudeville house. Once they were rehearsing an act that used “Song of India” for its music. Probably thinking of the famous recording of that tune by Tommy Dorsey’s band, the actor said, “Mr. Trombone Player, could you play that part up an octave?” Malina growled, “What am I, your partner? If I could play it up there, I’d be on stage with you.”

Boris used to complain about not being able to land a Broadway show. For a gag, the guys in Joe Harbor’s bar wrote out a ridiculous solo and told Boris that Hank Singer played it every night in the overture of the show he was doing. Boris got front row tickets for himself and his wife in order to hear this marvelous thing. When it didn’t happen, Boris began swearing loudly, in Yiddish, at everyone in the orchestra. The theatre manager finally had to ask him to leave.

Boris once contracted an orchestra for his sister, Luba Malina, a star on Broadway at the time. At one point in her show, Boris had a bell tone to play, and splattered it into a million pieces. Luba looked into the pit and said, “Ah, Golden Lips!”

Once Boris fell down and broke an arm. Joe and Urbie Green met him walking down Broadway. He displayed his injured arm and said to Urbie, “This is what I get for trying to play one of your solos!”

Bill Wurtzel was playing in Rothman’s Steak House with Alex Leonard. A woman and her college age son came over to compliment them on their music. When she bought one of Alex’s CD’s, he pointed to her son and asked, “Is he a musician?” “No,” she replied, “he’s an intellectual.”

Bruce McNichols once announced to his audience that he was about to play the tune “Banjo’s Back In Town.” Someone muttered, “Sounds like the name of a horror movie!”

On a gig, Art Baron and Jackie Williams were talking about several musician friends who had recently passed away. Jackie shook his head and said, “That’s one gig you can’t send a sub in for.”

Roger Post was playing a club date with a band that was playing a medium tempo swing tune when the cornet player took a solo that was at least three metronome clicks faster than the tempo the band was playing. The bassist looked at Roger and said, “What the heck was that?” Roger replied, “He’s just killin’ time.”

Gim Burton found this one on the Internet and passed it along:


  1. “God what a kick, playing all those Glen Miller stocks!”
  2. “I love it when the trumpets lay back like that. It makes playing drums so easy.”
  3. “Wow, as usual everyone played perfectly all night long!”
  4. “The leader got every tempo right, as usual!”
  5. “Why is that cigarette shaped so funny?”
  6. “Should we go back for the drummer?”
  7. “Checkmate!”
  8. “Sure, roll ‘em down the aisle all you want. They’re only cymbals.”
  9. “So I walked her home, kissed her goodnight, and came back to the bus.”
  10. “No, the monitor mix was perfect. I just screwed up.”
  11. “Why is there porn on the VCR?”
  12. “Can you believe all the money we’re getting?”
  13. “Boy, I can’t wait ‘til we get to Omaha.”
  14. “No thanks, I don’t want another beer.”
  15. “Ladies, I need to see some proof of age, please.”

This one went around the Internet fast! At least 30 people sent it to me:

Question: What is the difference between a blues musician and a jazz musician? Answer: A blues musician plays three chords in front of a thousand people. A jazz musician plays a thousand chords in front of three people.

A music fan once asked a veteran saxophone player why he had chosen jazz as his career. He answered, “I don’t like crowds.”