Bill Crow’s Band Room

Volume CX, No. 12December, 2010

Bill Crow

Here’s an e-mail I got from Paquito D’Rivera:

I met the great African-American soprano Martina Arroyo during a celebration of the Jazz Masters’ National Organization in New York.

They had placed chairs on one side of the Marriott Marquis Grand Ballroom, behind a curtain that separated us from the audience.

On each chair was a paper with each of our names, and we were called to the stage in the order of the chairs.

Dave Brubeck, Nancy Wilson, brothers Percy and Jimmy Heath, George Benson, Freddie Hubbard, Buddy DeFranco and David Baker (whose chair was next to mine) were all there.

But when I got to my seat, instead of Prof. Baker, I found the eminent Martina Arroyo, who had nothing to do with the world of jazz.

I sat down, looked around, greeted everyone and glanced at the sign by her chair. “Excuse me madam, but, aren’t you Martina Arroyo?”

Opening her eyes as wide as she could, the diva responded loudly: “What, did you think I am David Baker?”

Everyone’s loud laughter coincided with the real David Baker’s arrival, who immediately asked if Martina was up to something.

They had been colleagues and friends for years, and he had invited the illustrious “Ebony Valkyrie” to the celebration.

Randy Sandke tells me that someone put Murray Wall’s biography through a spell-checker before printing it in a concert program. As a result, Warren Vache was listed as Warren Ache, Kenny Davern as Kenny Tavern, Ken Peplowski as Ken Pillowslip, and Benny Goodman as Benny Goddamn.

Dick Sheridan sent me this one:

Carl Reiner was telling of a writer’s meeting for the Sid Caesar show. Reiner arrived late because of a doctor’s appointment. He told the group, “I’ve got arrhythmia.” Mel Brooks immediately said, “Who could ask for anything more?”

Larry Fried speculates that, if Henry David Thoreau led the Tommy Dorsey band, the theme song would be “I’m Getting Transcendental Over You.”

Bill Wurtzel and his wife were headed for a Central Park performance of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn. Near the entrance, a saxophonist was playing a magnificent chorus of “Misty,” when someone looking for directions to the concert called out, “Where’s the music?”

Chris Byars always sings his daughter to sleep, and the songs he chooses come from the Great American Songbook. His daughter, now eight years old, has a friend who is just beginning to learn a few notes on the clarinet. When the friend asked Chris’s daughter what she would like to hear her play, her requests were “Sunny Side of the Street” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

An old army buddy of Keith Zaharia’s, Tillman Buggs, sent him an entertainment industry dictionary. Here are a few of the definitions:

AGENT: A character who resents performers getting 90 percent of his salary.
BALLET: An art form for people with eating disorders.
BANDSTAND: The area furthest away from an electrical outlet.
BIG BAND: Nowadays, an aggregation consisting of two musicians.
CABARET: A venue where singers do songs from shows that closed out of town.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: God’s way of telling you that you’ve practiced too much.
CLASSICAL COMPOSER: A man ahead of his time and behind in the rent.
CRUISE SHIP: A place where a musician has two reasons to throw up.
D.J.: The guy your son would rather have play for his Bar Mitzvah.
DOWNBEAT: The magazine that would have you believe that all jazz musicians are working.
ELECTRIC PIANO: The instrument that enables its player to pay for the hernia he sustained lifting it.
JAZZ: The only true American art form beloved by Europeans.
NEW YEAR’S EVE: The night of the year when contractors are forced to hire musicians they despise.
ORCHESTRATOR: The musician who enhances a composer’s music, only to be chastised for it.
PERFECT PITCH: The ability to pinpoint any note and still play out of tune.
PIANIST: An archaic term for a keyboard player.
SIDEMAN: An appellation for a musician that indicates he will never be rich.
STAFF MUSICIAN: Harder to locate than a cavity among the Osmond family.
STEADY ENGAGEMENT: Look up in Webster’s Dictionary under the word ‘’obsolete.’’
UNION REP: A guy who thinks big bands are coming back.
VERSE: The part of a tune that’s disposable, except to its composer.
WURLITZER: The Ford Pinto of pianos.