Bill Crow’s Band Room

Volume CVI, No. 3March, 2006

Bill Crow

Dave Frishberg wrote the liner notes for a Verve reissue of a record called “You ‘n’ Me” by the Al Cohn-Zoot Sims Quintet, a band he used to play piano with. In those notes he told this story:

One night we finished at the Half Note and Zoot didn’t want to stop. The customers were gone, Mousie (Alexander) was packing up the drums, and Zoot was alone on the bandstand, wailing away chorus after chorus of “Stompin’ at the Savoy” or something like that. Al was standing at the bar with his coat and hat on, and he yelled, “Zoot! Take off the red shoes!”

Scott Robinson’s uncle laid a zinger on him at their Thanksgiving dinner last year. His aunt asked, “What is this place you’re working in this week?” Scott said, “It’s a nightclub in New York City called the Jazz Standard.” His aunt asked, “Do you play there normally?” Before Scott could answer, his uncle said, “No, he plays jazz!”

Bill Mays was playing at the Knickerbocker in the Village several years ago. A man came up to him at the end of a set and said, “I loved every minute of it. I have all your records, and I love your work.” Bill asked, “Which record is your favorite?” The man replied with a title that Bill didn’t recognize. He said, “I’m a bit confused…I never made a record with that name.” The man said, “But, aren’t you Cedar Walton?”

The name of Russ Anixter’s copying service, Anixter Rice Music, is printed at the bottom of the score paper they use. One day he got a call at the office from the cell phone of a musician in the bass section of an orchestra in Houston, Texas, where they were rehearsing Linda Eder’s music for “Rainbow’s End.” The musician asked, “Do you have the bowing for bar 75?” Russ explained that Anixter Rice just did the copying, and did not have those markings on file. The musician said, “We couldn’t get the conductor’s attention, and we thought you might know.”

From Steve Voce in Liverpool: At a formal affair in England, Gordon Jenkins arrived and walked over to the functionary who was loudly announcing the names of everyone as they arrived. The man bent down as Jenkins whispered into his ear, then straightened himself up and announced loudly, “Mr. Mensroom.”

Michael DuClos, the bassist with “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” told me about an early experience in the music business. Twenty-five or thirty years ago, when he was a young bassist in Albany, he was hired with a group of local musicians to play a show with Connie Francis at the Coliseum theatre in nearby Latham, NY. The other musicians were in the pit, but Michael was asked to stand onstage with Ms. Francis’ rhythm section. Albie Berk, her drummer, seeing that Michael was young and nervous, went out of his way to make him comfortable at rehearsal, cracking jokes and putting him at ease.

One of the charts was a long medley, and the bass part had many pages of nothing but quarter notes, without chord symbols. The performance went well, and when they came to the medley, Michael kept his eyes glued to the part, being careful not to lose his place. But as he played, he heard Albie softly calling his name, insistently and repeatedly. Afraid he was lost, Michael finally looked up, and saw Albie cracking up. Horrified, he realized he’d been had. He quickly looked back at the music, but now he was lost. He had no idea which measure they were in. Albie let him panic for a moment, and then gave him a bar number and got him back on track. Michael said, “Even though I’ve never seen him since, I’ve never forgotten him.”

A few years ago, when Wayne Andre was still with us, Joe Gianono sent him a friend who wanted to learn the trombone. During his first lesson, two of his biggest heroes of the trombone, Urbie Green and Bill Watrous, stopped by Wayne’s studio to say hello. Wayne said that, for the rest of the lesson, his new pupil seemed to be slightly in shock.

Herb Gardner got the directions to his New Year’s Eve gig last year and saw that the time was 8 p.m. to midnight. He called the client and told them that it would sound like this: “5-4-3-2-1-goodnight folks!” They agreed to change the hours to 8:30 to 12:30.