Bill Crow’s Band Room

Volume C, No. 1January, 2000

Bill Crow

Here we are in the Y2K already! I started this column at the beginning of 1983, and haven’t run out of stories yet. Every time my collection of items looks like it’s running on empty, a few more phone calls, letters and e-mailings will come in, giving me enough material for a couple of months more. Thanks to all of you for making this so enjoyable.

Jeff Atterton of London dropped by the office when he was in town and left a copy of the newsletter of the Duke Ellington Society of England. (Their motto is “nil nisi pulsatur,” a Latin translation of “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.”) The newsletter item he wanted me to see showed a couple of wonderful CD record cover goofs: A Lester Young album on Vintage Jazz with a cover photo of Paul Gonsalves holding a tenor saxophone, and a Double Play album titled “Charlie Parker, Chasin’ the Bird,” with a cover photo of Johnny Hodges playing the alto. Aren’t reissues confusing enough as it is?

Kenny Berger remembered an inserted comma that gave him a laugh, in the title of one of Thad Jones’ charts written as a feature number for Pepper Adams on the band that Thad and Mel Lewis co-led for several years. On his saxophone part Pepper Adams had turned Thad’s title, “Quiet Lady,” into “Quiet, Lady!”

While Irving Fields was playing solo piano at Harrah’s Hotel in Atlantic City, he returned from a break and found a banana in his grand piano. He called out to the audience, “Who put the banana in my piano?” Nobody answered. Every night, for the entire week, he would find another banana and would ask the same question. He used the idea for a children’s song, “Who Put the Banana in the Piano?” The song has become a favorite at his children’s concerts – but he never found out who did put the banana in the piano.

Five or six different people forwarded this one via e-mail. The original author is purported to be Jonathan Dlouhy of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra:

The Star Spangled Banner:
from the Percussionist’s Perspective

Oh, say can you BOOM, CRASH!
By the dawn’s early BOOM, CRASH!
What so proudly we BOOM, CRASH!
At the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright BOOM, CRASH!
Through the perilous BOOM, CRASH!
O’er the ramparts we BOOM, CRASH!
Were so gallantly streaming? 3 &
1…2…3… 2…2…3… 3…2…3… 4…2…3…
5…2…3… 6…2…3… 7…2…3… 8…2…Oh,


Returning from a Sunday brunch gig on a beautiful spring day, bassist John Arbo passed a garden center. He glanced a bit too long at the busy scene, with customers swarming among the beautiful plants and flowers, and by the time he focussed again on the road in front of him, the car directly ahead of him had stopped. John hit the brakes but smashed into the car’s rear bumper, destroying the front end of his own car. Both drivers quickly got out – but instead of yelling and screaming, they shook hands and beamed warmly at each other. The other driver turned out to be a drummer friend that John hadn’t seen for nine years. While the garden center customers wondered why these two guys were so happy about literally running into each other, John’s friend said, “I can’t believe it! Come here!” He took John around to where he could hear the cassette that was playing in his car . . . a tape of the last gig they had done together, nine years earlier.

Ted Sommer sent me a page from a travel magazine with a letter from a travel agent in Ontario who used to book a cellist client onto airlines with a seat beside him for his instrument. He would book the extra ticket for Master C. Ello, at half fare. On one tour the cellist had to purchase his own ticket at the last minute in Madrid. He mentioned to the Iberia Airlines ticket agent that the reason he was buying a seat for his cello was that the instrument was more than 200 years old. The agent then demanded full fare for the extra seat, ruling that the half-fare ticket was only valid for children under twelve!