Len Dobbin, up in Montreal, told me about one of the last record dates Pepper Adams did before he passed away. The date was with the Denny Christianson big band, at Montreal’s old Victor studios. Pepper, already suffering from terminal cancer, laboriously climbed the three flights to the studio and looked into the studio control room. Pointing to the huge control board with all its lights, dials and knobs, Pepper said, “Len, you gotta see the train set that goes with that!”
Bobby Knight was on the date that recorded the theme for the Batman TV show, one of Neal Hefti’s biggest moneymakers. At the top of each part was written: “Word and music by Neal Hefti.”
Bill Wurtzel was playing solo guitar at a local restaurant, and in the middle of a classical piece he was reading, a man and woman got up to leave. They came over to Bill while he was still performing and began to tell him how much they liked his playing, and that they had come especially to hear him. As the final indignity, the man reached out, as Bill continued to play, and tried to shake his hand.
When Turk Mauro was on the Buddy Rich band in 1976, they were doing about nine weeks of one-nighters. During an intermission, some members of the audience came over to chat. One of them asked, “Where did you play last night?” No one in the band could remember. Then they were asked, “Where will you be playing tomorrow?” A chorus arose from the band members, “We don’t even know where we are now!”
Bill Turner has a friend, Monica, with blond hair and a cherubic face, who is an accomplished harpist. She plays for weddings, receptions, parties, etc. On her way to an engagement at a hotel, she carried her large, golden harp into the elevator. A distinguished looking man with grey hair stepped into the car with her. As the doors closed, he eyed her thoughtfully and asked, “Just how far up are you going?”
During an intermission at a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Clarinetist Ron Rubin said to the chief stage hand, “You’ve been here a long time… do you have any favorite composers?” The chief said he liked Mozart and Haydn best. When Ron asked the reason, the chief said, “We don’t have to move the tymps.”
When Rubin was sixteen, he won a contest that was looking for “the schoolboy king of the clarinet.” Benny Goodman was the judge, and when Ron was declared the winner, a photo was taken of him with Goodman, which Ron carried in his wallet. Years later, Ron was at Disneyland and saw that Goodman was there. He waited for an opportunity to speak to him, but when he approached Goodman as he walked by, Goodman just walked faster. Ron trotted beside Goodman, pulled out his treasured photo and held it in front of him. “Mr. Goodman,” he said, “remember this?” Goodman muttered, “Get the f___ out of here!” and hurried away.
Randy Sandke tells me that when Jake Hanna walked into a recording studio and saw that the sound engineer had gone crazy with microphones pointed at every drum and cymbal, he growled, “They’ve got more mikes than an Irish bar!”
Steve Cohen got this message from Marilyn Harris: I had just finished officiating a wedding ceremony. After congratulating the couple, I went into the dining room to return the D.J.’s microphone which I had borrowed for the ceremony. I was impressed with the D.J. He was probably half my age, and handled himself and his equipment in a very professional manner. As I was standing there, the bride’s father walked over and asked, “Do you have any Cole Porter?” The young man politely replied, “I’m the D.J., sir. The bar is over there.”
Joel Shelton lives in a building that is part apartments and part tourist hotel. One evening he got on the elevator dressed in black, head freshly shaved, with his trombone in its gig bag, slung over his shoulder. Riding down to the lobby with him were a middle aged couple who kept staring at the back of his neck. Joel thought they were looking at his case, and said, “It’s a trombone.” The woman pointed and said, in a German accent, “You haff shaving cream on your neck.” Joel discovered that the errant foam had been spread by his trombone case to his jaw, collar and gig bag. As he mopped it up, the frau’s parting words were, “You need a vife!”
Dan Levinson told Herb Gardner about a newspaper review he saw with this rather ambiguous headline: IT JUST DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER!