An internet friend, Colin, sent me a story he heard from the British jazz tenorman and clubowner Ronnie Scott:
“I tried teaching myself to play guitar at one time. I’d get home about 3 a.m. and start playing my little D-minor to A-seventh exercise. It was enough to send anybody crazy. One morning there was this thumping on the floor above, because the guy upstairs couldn’t take it any more.
When I got up later that morning, I found a note that had been pushed through my letterbox from this neighbor. It went on about not understanding how a man of my intelligence could make this dreadful twanging noise in the middle of the night.
I knew the chap to nod to… he’s okay. He’s a lecturer of economics somewhere. So I put a note through his door apologizing for the disturbance, but explained that I had Andres Segovia staying in the spare bedroom.
Next morning, back comes another note to say it was an honor and privilege to be waked up at 3 a.m. by Senor Segovia, and would I please pass on his best wishes to the maestro.”
Ian Royle sent me an email note that mentions Iain Pattinson’s book on British bandleader Humphrey Lyttelton titled “Lyttelton’s Britain,” in which he found a story about a big band whose musicians were experiencing stage fright. A course of hypnotism was recommended, after which, when the bandleader counted off “One, two, one-two-three-four,” the whole trumpet section fell asleep.
Roger Post was on a gig at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, Connecticut. Pianist Arnie Gross led the group through a number of traditional songs, and was surprised that Roger, a jazz drummer, played all the music correctly. He said, “I didn’t know you could play Jewish drums!” Roger replied, “I don’t. They’re Ludwig!”
Joe Levinson in Chicago sent me this one: Trombonist Loren Binford told drummer Ron Barron, “I’ve been playing in a rehearsal band for months, every Monday night in this bar. One night the owner comes over to the band and says, ‘I’m sorry, but I have to let you guys go.’ I can’t even play for nothing any more!”
My friend Steve Voce, in England, did an interview with the rotund trumpeter Jack Sheldon, who announced that he was on a diet. “I only eat one meal a day now. A salad and a cow.”
When Steve posted this remark on the internet, Bruce Adams replied:
“I’m on two diets. I got so hungry on just one.”
Maria Schneider’s band was at the Jazz Standard. A piece called Bombshelter Beast began with Scott Robinson playing a weird opening solo cadenza on a small, hand-held photo-optical theremin that makes otherworldly electronic sounds. While Scott made his bizarre warbles, Jay Anderson leaned over to Ingrid Jensen and said, “I hear he plays really good Dixieland, too!”
Kurt Kolstad sent me a list of new music terms and definitions. Here are the ones I like best:
AL REGRETTO: When you’re sixteen measures into the piece and realize you’ve taken too fast a tempo.
A PATELLA: Accompanied by knee slapping.
APPOLOGGIATURA: A composition that you regret playing.
APPROXIMENTO: Somewhere in the vicinity of the correct pitch.
CACOUGHANY: Music played by or for people with chest colds.
DILL PICCOLINI: A very small wind instrument that only plays sour notes.
FERMANTRA: A note held over and over, and over, and over…
FIDDLER CRABS: Grumpy string players.
FRUGALHORN: A sensible and reasonably priced brass instrument.
TROUBLE CLEF: Any clef one can’t read.
VIBRATTO: Child prodigy vibraphonist.
John Perilli sent me a story about the late great jazz drummer Jake Hanna. Jake had suffered a stroke, and had a successful rehab. When he later appeared in a concert at the Bickford Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey, with Howard Alden and Harry Allen, Perilli visited with Jake after the gig and commented on his playing. “Jake, I heard you had a stroke, but there was absolutely no sign of it in your playing.” Jake replied, “I was very fortunate, John. It was only a single stroke. If it had been a paradiddle, I’d have been in big trouble!”