Bill Crow’s Band Room

Volume CIV, No. 6June, 2004

Bill Crow

Andrew Beals told me about a job Ravi Coltrane was playing at a jazz club out on the coast. Ravi, son of the famous John Coltrane, is a fan of Jim Carrey’s movies, and was excited to see that Carrey was in the audience. “Do you think it would be okay if I went over and met him?” Ravi asked his band. They told him, “Man, he came in to see you. Of course, go on over.” So Ravi went over and introduced himself. Carrey told him, “I’m a big jazz fan. My dad played the tenor sax.” Ravi said excitedly, “Really? So did mine!”

Herb Gardner passed this one along from Randy Reinhart, who was playing a children’s concert at which Dave Ostwald held up his tuba and asked, “Who knows what this is?” A little girl raised her hand and said, “A trapeze?” John Erik Kellso muttered, “No, you can SWING on a trapeze!”

Sherman Frank told me about a Wednesday afternoon on the exchange floor at Roseland many years ago. Contractor Irv Grauer approached Solly Tepper and asked if he knew a good guitar player. Sol nodded “yes,” and Irv asked, “Does he play electric?” Sol replied, “No…gas.”

Cliff Morris told me about a Saturday night gig he used to have at the Chief’s Club in Key West when he was in the Navy in 1956. One Sunday Bob Eberle and his band appeared at the club, and Cliff went to listen. He said, “Eberle had obviously been drinking, but I wanted to meet him, so I walked over to the booth where he was sitting during a break and introduced myself. Eberle slowly looked up, fixed his eyes on mine, and said, ‘You’re fired.’”

In the early 1950’s Alfonso Tomaino was studying clarinet at his teacher’s apartment on 58th Street when the telephone rang. The French-American teacher, Mr. Duqués, asked Alfonso to answer the phone. “Eef eet ees Bay-nee Goodman, tell ‘eem I no here.” It was Goodman on the phone, and Alfonso gave the instructed reply. Goodman said, “Tell him Benny Goodman called.” The same scenario occurred during a lesson a few weeks later. Curious, Alfonso asked Mr. Duqués why he wouldn’t speak to Goodman. He replied, “‘E ees a pain een de nak. ‘E send ‘is chauffeur over eere and ‘e want me to go to ‘otel Pierre to play duets.” Alfonso asked, “What’s so annoying about that?” Mr. Duqués replied, “‘E no pay me!”

Wayne Goodman was on a gig at the midtown Marriott hotel. On a break, the conversation turned to automobiles. Wayne told Mike Carubia that his sister was very happy with her new SUV, and Carubia said, “My new SUV got great reviews!” Doug Romoff quickly said, “Good, I hope it runs!”

Gene Bensen and Regent Scott have a big band that rehearses for fun up in Mount Kisco, and occasionally plays a gig or two in the summertime. I’ve gone up and played with them a couple of times, when they were short a bass player. Gene told me, when he was playing trumpet on the road with the Ice Capades, there had been a lot of grousing about this and that, so the management put up a sheet of paper on the bulletin board and encouraged tour members to write down their complaints. To the list of problems that the skaters had written down, Gene added: “My mouthpiece has a hole in it.” A management interviewer promptly offered to get it fixed.

Leo Ball told me about a gig he once played with the Sonny Igoe-Dick Meldonian band. The comedian Charlie Callas was on the bill. Charlie started out as a drummer before getting into stand-up comedy, and he always liked to sit in. Sonny stepped aside for one number and let Charlie take over his drums, and Dick called a tune for them to play. Sonny’s understanding of the band was sorely missed during the number, and when the end mercifully came, there was a moment of silence. Then trumpeter Charlie Camilleri announced, “Better than Mickey Rooney, not as good as Mel Tormé!”

Playing with a jazz group in a restaurant, Wayne Wright was on his way to the stage one night to do his show when a man at a table stopped him and said, “Wayne, do me a favor before you go on. Could I have your autograph…and some more butter?”

I got a note from Beth, one of my nieces, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Her son Brian, in grade school, has a play fort in the back yard. When they were closing it up for the winter this year, Beth found a handwritten agenda Brian had left behind:

  1. Sacrifise to Gods
  2. Discus Gierls
  3. Pray to Boy Gods/Imortant Pepoel
  4. Rain of Taror
  5. Meeting Starts