Bill Crow’s Band Room

Volume CX, No. 3March, 2010

Bill Crow

While I was shopping at the Apple/Macintosh store in the Palisades Center Mall last December, the computer maven that I was chatting with told me about a recent theft. Someone had made off with four of the iPhones that were on display there. He said the same thief had stolen two more of the phones from another store nearby.

They had no trouble getting the phones back. iPhones are built with a GPS locator, to help owners find lost phones. He said they were able to locate the phones immediately, in a car in a nearby parking lot. The locator even told them which lane the car was parked in. The police simply went there and waited for the thief to return to his car, where they arrested him and retrieved the phones.

New rule: Don’t steal anything with a GPS in it.

Joe Ciavardone told me about heading out for a beer and a sandwich with Lew Gluckin one night after rehearsing with the Sonny Igoe-Dick Meldonian band in Emerson, New Jersey. There was only one problem… they couldn’t find the car keys. They were down on their hands and knees, looking beside and under their car when Sonny Igoe pulled up in his car. “What’s up?” he called. “We can’t find the car keys,” said Joe and Lew. Sonny laughed and pointed. “They’re in the door!”

Joe Bennett told me that the original Ferde Grofe arrangement of “Rhapsody in Blue” for Paul Whiteman’s orchestra began with a bell note on the tuba, followed by the clarinet glissando. On that band, Joe Venuti had been known to occasionally put flour in the tuba, creating a snowstorm when the tubist played his first note. Whiteman felt that “Rhapsody,” being a serious piece of music, shouldn’t be endangered that way, so he removed the tuba note and had the piece begin with just the clarinet glissando.

More on Joe Venuti: he was an irrepressible practical joker. Whiteman’s guitar and banjo player, Mike Pingatore (what a perfect name!), had a crippled leg and walked with a cane for support. Venuti removed the rubber tip from Pingatore’s cane every day and sawed off another quarter inch of it, gradually causing his victim to walk in a more and more bent-over fashion, until he realized what Venuti had been doing. And when the band hired a new pianist who loudly beat his foot out of time with the music, Venuti crawled under the piano with a hammer and nails and tried to nail the guy’s foot to the floor.

Dick Sheridan told me a story about our old friend Ray Starling. Ray was mainly a jazz trumpeter, but like many jazz musicians, he filled in the holes in his playing schedule with club dates that he picked up on the union floor. He figured out a way to avoid having to buy a tuxedo. In the pocket of his black suit, he carried a black bow tie and a piece of black satin that his wife had made for him which fitted neatly over the lapels of his suit, transforming it into a tuxedo jacket.

An e-mail pal of mine, Gordon Sapsed, says a girlfriend of his once asked him who the Bozarts were… the ones who had a ball.

From George Young: (Sung to the tune “You Don’t Know What Love Is”)

You Don’t Know Where One Is

You don’t know where one is.
You never know the changes or the form.
Your playing is so far below the norm.
You don’t know where one is.
You don’t know what beats are.
You cannot tell beat one from that of three.
Just how lame can one poor fellow be?
You don’t know where one is.
Don’t you know the key or chords
For tunes that you claim you are knowin’?
No wonder you sound so lost
Once you’ve started blowin’.
I can’t tell from your line
Whether you’re in three or in five four.
I tell you this and tell you one thing more,
You don’t know where one is.