The Band Room
Volume 117, No. 4April, 2017
My old friend, songwriter Margo Guryan, attended a party at Neil Diamond’s house. Three large tables were set up for the guests. At Margo’s table, Bob Dylan was seated to her right, and her husband David to her left. When David got up to go and say hello to someone, Neil Diamond came over to greet the guests at her table. David returned, saw Neil sitting in his seat, and sat down at another table. When Neil went off to another table, Margo was left sitting next to Dylan and an empty chair.
Dylan didn’t speak, to Margo or to anyone else. The rest of that table, mostly lawyers, chatted with each other. Margo said to Dylan, “That’s the film table,” and pointed to where Suzanne Pleshette and some other actors were seated. Dylan turned his chair and looked at the film table, but he didn’t speak.
At another table, where Rob Reiner and Albert Brooks were seated with some friends, laughter erupted every few minutes, and Margo wished she was with them. She said to Dylan, “And that’s the comedy table.” Dylan turned his chair toward them, his back now to Margo, but he said nothing.
Margo sat silently for another few minutes and then said, “And I don’t know what the f*** this table is!” Dylan burst out laughing. Margo told me, “I couldn’t make him speak, but I made Bob Dylan laugh!”
The late Eddie Bert once told Dan Miller that when a Debut Records box set came out on CD, he wanted to get the single session he had done with Charles Mingus, Max Roach and Mal Waldon. The people at the record company told him they couldn’t break up the set and just sell him the single disc. But they agreed to sell Eddie all 12 CDs at $5.00 apiece without the book, CD cases or the box that the set came in. After receiving the discs, Eddie consulted his card file of every gig he had ever done and discovered that he been paid $62 for the record date. The CDs plus shipping cost $65. Eddie said, “I can’t believe I lost $3 on this deal!”
Jazz musicians who play in restaurants usually confine themselves to songs from the Great American Songbook. But Mark Devine posted on Facebook that, on his last New Years’ Eve gig at a fancy Manhattan restaurant, the waiter handed him a tip and said that a customer wanted anything by Tadd Dameron. So they played “Our Delight” and “If You Could See Me Now.” Then the patron requested “Four,” and began showing the table next to him the similarities.
Felix Lamerle posted a reply: “At my solo gig on New Years Eve, I was playing Matador by Grant Green, and the security guard started humming the melody along with me!”Only in New York!
After moving to New York, Jack Stuckey spent his first year playing with a band called the Ninth Street Stompers. They played mostly on the street in a loosely-knit Dixieland style,. A large part of the band’s entertainment value came from Tom Kirkpatrick’s trumpet playing and vocals.
On occasion, the band would be invited to play a private party, where they would be paid considerably more than the change they collected on the street. One of these parties was at a private home in Connecticut. The band was set up in the basement near a large indoor swimming pool.
One of their big numbers was the “St. James Infirmary Blues,” with a colorful vocal by Tom. During the last instrumental chorus Tom eyed the diving board and a large rope that hung from the ceiling above the middle of the pool.
Still playing, Tom casually walked to the end of the diving board. The song ended with an elaborate trumpet cadenza. Then there was a pause while Tom jumped to the rope in the middle of the pool, and then played a final triumphant note from his trumpet as he held the rope with one hand. Splash!
Tom spent the rest of the party in a robe as his tuxedo was dried by the amused host.
Kirby Tassos attended a master class given by the renowned flutist Julius Baker. The piano had not been tuned, and Baker winced at the sound. “Boy,” he said, “I didn’t think an out-of-tune piano would bother me this much, after all the time I spent playing with the New York Philharmonic!”
At a flute camp, the 80-year-old Baker was getting ready to play a Bach sonata when the pianist asked him if he would like a tuning note. He responded, “Hey, if I don’t know where the A is by now…”
Peter Zimmerman sent me this one:
Some time ago, the tenor saxophonist Frank Foster was playing a street concert sponsored by Jazzmobile in Harlem. He called for a blues in B-flat. A young tenor player began to play “out” from the first chorus, making sounds that had no relationship to the harmonic progression or rhythmic setting. Foster stopped him.
“What are you doing?”
“Just playing what I feel.”
“Well, feel something in B-flat, mother!”