I got a call last summer from a leader who said, “I have a gig for a Dixie trio that I can’t do. Do you want to do it?” He told me the date and hours and the money, and I said, “Sure, you want me on tuba?” “Yeah, I’ll send you the directions.” He did so, and called again a couple of days before the job to make sure I was all set. On the appointed date I went to the venue, a golf club, and found the lady in charge, who showed me where we were to play. When they were ready for the music, the rest of the trio hadn’t showed up. The lady called the guy who had booked me, and he said he didn’t know where the other musicians were. She asked me, “What shall we do? I need you to march the tournament ladies from the cocktail lounge to the dining room…it’s supposed to be a Mardi Gras dinner.” I said, “Let’s go,” and I began to play “The Saints” on my tuba, leading everyone into the dining room. I stayed there, playing the melodies to various songs, taking as many choruses as I felt like taking, and generally enjoying myself for the two hours for which the gig had been booked. When I got home, I called the guy who had hired me and said, “What was that? I just played a single on tuba!” He asked, “Didn’t the other guys show up?”. “No!” I said. “Well,” he asked, “who did you call?” There was a large, dumbfounded pause on my end. “You expected ME to call the other musicians? You never said that!” He had just assumed that I understood what he meant. So I’m thinking of adding “tuba single” to my business cards.
A jazz fan, Jim Young, passed this one along: A friend of his who lived in Baltimore, and who was a longtime fan of the Count Basie band, caught three of Basie’s road appearances in a row — one in Washington, another just outside Baltimore, and a third in Wilmington, Delaware. Freddie Green, strumming his guitar beside Basie, noticed the same face at a front row table for the third night in a row. Freddie leaned over and asked him, “Man, where do you live?”
In one of the first issues of Allegro that carried this column, back in 1983, I ran a couple of lists of fictitious musicians’ names. I’ve had a few requests to print them again. The first had been passed around studio and pit bands for a while, with everyone making additions:
Leader: Owen Guys. Vocalists: Rachel Prejudice and Sybil Rights. First trumpet: Kenny Makit. Second trumpet: Diz Astor. Third trumpet: Kent Reed. Fourth trumpet: Noah Count. Scream trumpet: Al Tissimo. First trombone: Hy Register. Second trombone: Slip Shod. Third trombone: Willie Show. Bass trombone: Lew Slips. First alto: Otto Tune. Third alto: Les Tone. Second tenor: Manny Notes. Fourth tenor: Don Swing. Baritone: Al Thumbs. Piano: R. Peggio. Bass: Pete Zicatto. Percussion: Phil Din, Chick Boom and Perry Diddle. Guitar: Django Bells. Banjo: Ricky Tick. Harp: Anne Dante. Organ: Page Turner. Tuba: Sue Saphone. French horn: Belle Tone. Vibes: Hal Mallet. Violins: Vi Bratto, Fay Kerr, Vera Sharp. Cello: Bo Braker. Harpsichord: Aaron Variations. Asst. Conductor: Justin Case. Arranger: Walt Smedley. Copyist: L. Eligible. Librarian: Miss Inga Page. Manager: Hiram Cheep. Band Boy: Manuel Labor. Agent: Gig Booker. Bus Driver: Oliver DaRode. Fan Club President: Doug DeBan. Emcee: Darryl B. Morticome.
I came up with a few additions of my own:
Trumpets: Al Taykit, Val Voyle, Miles Awai, Diz Lexia. Reeds: Reed Flychit, Harlan Nocturne, Barry DeMelody, Chu Bertalli, Buddy Ansole. Trombones: Rocco Caine, Duncan Drisordley, Axel B. Hocht, Albie Laight. Tuba: Erasmus B. Dragon. Piano: “Changes” Khan. Guitar: “Acupulco” Gold. Fender Bass: Basil Offendia. Drums: Burr Rumpum. Composer: Debussy Handy. Arranger: Kent Wright. Copyist: Don DeHatch. Manager: Noah D’Vance. Conductor: Yul C. Sordplay. Assistant Conductor: Flayling Wilder. Vocal Group: Wanda Lust, Frieda Hostichess, Rhonda Rytrack, Marsha Time, Lois Carmen DeNominator. Sound man: Hamp LeFeyer. Bus driver: Juan Wei Striit.