The captain of the shuttle that made the flight to the orbital space station last February was Mark Polansky, the nephew of Louise Sims. Several months ago Louise called to tell me that Mark had asked her for a tape of some of Zoot’s music, to be played as a wake-up call from Mission Control. Louise chose some tunes from Zoot’s recordings that had appropriate titles, and she asked if I would dub them onto a cassette for her. I did, and she sent the cassette to Mark. She called me on the Sunday after the launch to say that the astronauts had been awakened that morning to the sound of Zoot playing and singing Jack Segal and George Handy’s song, “Where You At?” The lyric begins, “Where you at? Where’s your natural habitat?” Louise said Mark had told Mission Control that the astronauts felt they were in their natural habitat, and happy to be there.
Speaking of astronauts: Andy Messenger’s seven-year-old daughter came to him one afternoon and proudly announced, “Daddy, I know who Louis Armstrong was!” Andy asked, “Who was he?” She replied, “He was the first man in space!” Andy told me, “You know, I really couldn’t disagree with her.”
Bob Curtis, living down in Florida, sent this one to John Thorp, who passed it along to me: Bob says: After living here for more than a year, I still get a half dozen calls every day for a Chinese restaurant called Jade Tree. I’ve begged information to stop giving out my number for this restaurant, but to no avail. I could change my phone number, but that would cause some major disruptions in my lines of communications to friends, family and business associates. My frustration got the better of me recently. Here’s a transcript of my conversation:
My phone rings. I answer. “Is this the Jade Tree?” “Yes.” “Do you deliver?” “Sure.” “I want one egg roll.” “We no sell one. Must order two.” “I always order one.” “Sorry, policy change.” “OK, two eggrolls, and some Dim Sum.” “Sorry, no damn Dim Sum.” “How about a small order of spareribs?” “Only sell large order.” “How much is that?” “Twelve and ninety five.” “OK, and I want a pint of hot and sour soup.” “No sell pound of soup . . . only large tureen.” “But I’m just one person. How will I consume a tureen?” “We sorry you have no friends, but we no sell pound.” “OK, give me a pint of pork lo mein.” “We no got lo mein. We got pork with Sechuan noodle, and we don’t sell pound. Only quart.” “When can you deliver?” “First you pay.” “How?” “Give credit card number.” “Why can’t I wait until you deliver?” “No deliver. First you pay, then pick up.” “I thought you delivered!” “NO deliver! You pick up, but pay first.” “FÑ- you!” “FÑ- you too, and don’t call Jade Tree no more!” Click!
Gordon Sapsed, in London, emailed me a nice photo of tenor man Spike Robinson along with this story: Spike is featured in the UK with a group that calls itself “Young Lions, Old Tigers.” Spike is about 40 years older than the other musicians, who like to tease him about his “senility.” At a recent gig at the Concorde Club, co-leader Derek Nash called a less familiar number, which made Spike reach for his glasses and begin thumbing through the music book. As he waited, Derek whispered, “They’re in alphabetical order.” Spike replied, “That’s okay, but I can’t remember the damned alphabet!”
Sam Levine enjoyed a program note he found about a trio in Connecticut that consisted of two guitarists and a drummer: “Our specialty is recreating the big band sounds of the 1930s and 1940s.”
Fred Sharp, Jim Hall’s first teacher, who played guitar with the Adrian Rollini Trio, Red Norvo, Muggsy Spanier, etc., retired to Sarasota, Fla., about ten years ago. He began teaching at Gottuso’s, a local music store, where he interviewed a prospective student. “You know,” he told the young man, “I only teach jazz.” The youngster replied, “Oh, I already took that.”
Fred also told me about running into tenor man Moe Zelman, a friend from his home town, Cleveland. Both men are Jewish. Fred happened to ask Moe where he was planning to be buried when he died and Moe said, “I’m going to be cremated.” “That’s against our religion!” said Fred. Moe answered, “So’s ribs!”
John Barbe sent this one in: A conductor was unhappy with the playing of one of his drummers. After giving him much unheeded advice, he said acidly before the entire orchestra, “When a musician can’t handle his instrument and doesn’t improve when given help, they take away the instrument, give him two sticks, and make him a drummer.”
A stage whisper was heard from the percussion section: “And if he can’t handle even that, they take away one of his sticks and make him a conductor.”
George Ziskind attended the Jazz Educators conference in New York in January and overheard a conversation between Jimmy Heath and a friend. The friend said, “You’re really looking good, Heath!” Jimmy replied, “Man didn’t you hear? I’ve been diagnosed with Age!”