Bill Crow’s Band Room

Volume C, No. 12December, 2000

Bill Crow

Bob Cranshaw and trombonist Cliff Anderson were driving to a Sonny Rollins rehearsal with the car radio tuned to a local jazz stations. As they listened, they commented on the music that was played. One record began without an announcement: a tenor player and a rhythm section. Cliff remarked that he’d like to play with that rhythm section, but Bob had reservations. “They sounded a little monaural to me,” he told me. “I listened some more and, when the tune ended, I was just about to come down heavy on the bass player when the announcer said, ‘That was a record made several years ago by Joe Henderson, with McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass…'”

Ed Metz sent me this one via Stan Auld: When Eddie Miller was with Bob Crosby, he checked into a hotel signing his name “Mr. & Mrs. Eddie Miller.” The hotel clerk asked, “Is Mrs. Miller with you?” Eddie said, “She’ll be coming in late tonight.” The clerk wondered, “How will I know her?” “It’ll be difficult,” said Eddie. “She works for the FBI. Sometimes she’s a tall blonde, and sometimes she’s a short brunette.”

Wyn Walshe was rehearsing for a trust fund job in Pelham. The conductor, Rocco Polera, was unhappy with the brass section. He said, “You guys are playing too loud. When I ask you to play soft, you play louder. Just like at a wedding!” Someone piped up, “They’re the same guys!”

Tony Price had been looking forward to recording with Bert and Ernie, two of the Muppets from Sesame Street. But he told Herb Gardner he was disappointed: “Bert and Ernie never showed up,” he said. “They just sent a couple of guys who sounded like them.”

Russ Moy passed along a story he got from Mike Capobianco: Danny Schwartz was playing an anniversary party at a country club. About an hour into the job the man of the hour fell ill, and the maitre d’ called 911. At about the same time, one of the musicians told the leader that he was feeling queasy, and stepped outside to get some air. He went out in front of the club, where he fainted. When the rescue squad arrived they assumed that he was the subject of the 911 call and whisked him away to the hospital. The family inside couldn’t imagine what was taking the ambulance so long to respond. A second 911 call finally got the original victim some attention.

Burt Collins told me that his very first job was with a big band where everyone was paid a dollar a night except for the jazz trumpeter (himself) and the lead trumpet player, who were each paid two dollars. “I started my career at double scale,” Burt said, “and it’s been going downhill ever since!”

This letter, addressed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Selection Committee, has been bouncing around the internet:


“I wish to apply immediately for the job of Second Trombone. I already have two trombones. Although I have not played much in an orchestra, I have played along with lots of classic (no vocal) records. I found that if I slowed them up a little that the songs automatically went into the flat keys, which are much easier, but I think I could do the sharp keys in a short time.

“I was a student for several years of Mr. Remington (Buck, not Emory) and then went with the circus band where my tone really got great. You don’t have to worry about me being able to blast through on the Vogner stuff that’s for sure. After I watched “10” I got out my horn and worked up a really great solo on “Bolero” (do you know that there is a dance by this name too?) but I still have trouble knowing when to come in with the record. Does your arrangement sound the same all the way through, too? Anyway, I know that if I get the job that the people in Chicago will like my version, which is do-wop.

“Would I have to sit real close to the violins? They never seem to play very loud and my tone sort of cuts off if I have to play too soft so it would be best if I could sit in front of the drums, like in the circus band. Also, I’d kind of like to sit on the outside so that people could see me.

“I am practicing every day for the audition and am working on a new thing called legato, but it’s still a little smeary. I think you’ll like it, though. But if your music is anything like this Rubank stuff, it will be a challenge to my teck… techininuque… tecquch… ability. There is a position on trombones called fifth, but hardly any notes are there. Does your music have many of these notes, and if so, what are they?

“I’d like to know all of this before I pay bus fare down to Chicago and how much does the job pay? I’m really looking forward to coming down, but why would I have to play behind a screen in the winter?

“Sincerely, Slide Rafferty

“P.S. I have lots of music stands and probably have one like you guys use, so that would be a cost saving.”