Anne Phillips, Bob Kindred and Dave and Iola Brubeck wrote the jazz opera called “Bending Towards the Light…A Jazz Nativity” that has been produced every Christmas season since 1985 in New York and in many other cities. Many famous musicians like Clark Terry, Lionel Hampton and Tito Puente have been featured performers in the roles of the participants in the Christmas story. Anne posted the following story on the internet recently:
“In the third year of the show, Phil Woods was a king. Then we re-wrote ‘The First Noel’ with a real high energy arrangement featuring a saxophone playing shepherd. Who else but Phil? When we called him to tell him he would no longer be a king but a shepherd, his retort was ‘What next? A camel?’”
Gene Bensen sent me this e-mail:
“I was on my way to a gig in Peekskill from my home in Somers. My wife Annette insisted that I get directions from Siri, who everyone knows is the Apple phone assistant. Now I know the way, but Annette insisted that I check with Siri. So I gave the order: ‘Siri, give me driving directions to Peekskill, New York.’
“Siri, after many tries, kept giving me directions to every town or place that sounded like ‘Peekskill.’ I got disgusted and started to give Siri a piece of my mind. I was cursing like a trooper.
“Finally, Siri said to me, ‘Gene, would you kiss your mother with those lips?’ She only said it once, but she did say it!”
Herb Gardner posted this on Facebook: “Bandleader Robbie Scott had finally gotten the afternoon wedding guests dancing when one of the waitresses came up and said, ‘It’s time to cut the cake now.’ Not wanting to lose the crowd, Robbie said, ‘Yeah, in a few minutes.’ She returned shortly, much more agitated, and insisted, ‘We really have to cut the cake now!’ But the dancers were getting enthusiastic, and Robbie persisted with another tune. Finally, the chef came furiously storming out of the kitchen and screamed, ‘The wedding cake is an ice cream cake, and it has just melted!’”
Ron Wasserman gave me this one: David Baker told about a gig he played with the George Russell sextet. He said, “I was taking a solo and I had my eyes closed. When I was done, I opened my eyes and Thelonious Monk was standing right there. He said, “They were right, you do look like me.”
A year later, I was playing with the same band in the same club with my eyes closed. I opened them and there Monk was again, but this time he said, “But you’re uglier.”
Dick Burd told me about a time when he was living in Evansville Indiana. He had flown to Chicago for a one-day project, and was waiting at O’Hare airport for his flight home. He noticed a number of men arriving with musical instrument cases and wondered what band was traveling. Just before boarding time, an elderly couple arrived. The man was riding an Amigo power wheelchair and the woman was walking beside him. Dick thought he looked familiar, but he was too shy to inquire.
The couple were seated in the first class section, and Dick and the rest of the musicians were in coach. As the plane landed in Evansville, Dick got up the courage to ask one of the musicians who their leader was. “Hey, man,” was the reply, “that’s Count Basie!” So, as he passed Basie on the way out, Dick stopped, shook his hand and said, “Welcome to Evansville!” He soon found out that they were on their way to the city’s large auditorium for a one-nighter, and that it was sold out. Dick was disappointed that he had to miss the concert, but he was glad that he got to meet Basie.
Eli Dimeff sent me an e-mail regarding a piece I wrote recently about the young disc jockeys on jazz stations mispronouncing musicians’ names. He heard Dinah Washington announced as Deena, and Billy Eckstine announced as Ecksteen. I guess they never heard of the rule “i before e.”
On their property in Connecticut Jonathan Tunick and his wife Leigh had an old red maple tree that wasn’t doing so well. They consulted a local arborist, who examined a leaf with his magnifying glass and told them, “The tree has an infestation of San Diego scale, a tiny parasitic insect.” John said, “San Diego scale? That’s what I made on my last show!”