Herb Gardner
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Herb Gardner

Crow Stories Archive
(from The Bandroom)

   John Harbison was playing a weekend job at one of the New England schools with our college jazz band during a semester in which he was immersed in an intense conversational German course. Traveling light, he had packed everything into his valve trombone case. When he played the first note, a loud "STRUMPH" was all that came out. Immediately recognizing the German word for "socks" he looked in the bell of the horn and, sure enough, there was a balled-up pair of socks.

# # #

   Wedding band leaders tend to be an anxious lot. On a recent club date a leader cautioned a young sideman, "If you take a drink onto the bandstand, put it in a coffee cup so people won't know what it is."

   The sideman said, "It's OK, I'm just drinking coffee."

   The leader nervously retorted, "Well then... put it in a wine glass."

# # #

   One of Walter Piston's students asked if there was such a thing as a tuba mute.

   "Oh, yes." replied the famous composer, "It's an imposing-looking device, rather like a large wastebasket."

   "In fact, one of my pieces has a passage calling for a muted tuba. During the fortissimo orchestral climax that just precedes it you can see the tuba player standing on the top riser with his arms fully extended towards the heavens, lowering the mute into the bell of his instrument."

   "Of course when he plays you can't hardly hear it, but the installation, with all that loud music going on, is a magnificent sight."

# # #

   In preparation for his first gig as a kid, with Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Haynes had memorized all of his arrangements After the first tune Dizzy turned around and asked, “Hey, Kid, why’d you play the song that way?” Roy answered, “That’s the way Cozy played it on your record.” Dizzy snorted, “That’s why Cozy ain’t here.”

# # #

   Who says they have no sense of humor? A bassoonist with Joe Hanchrow in college noticed that his recital piece ended on a low Bb, not previously played. Since all the holes on the bassoon are closed on that note, he attached a surgical rubber glove to the top of the instrument. When he finally played the Bb, a ghostly hand appeared to rise and wave goodbye to the audience.

# # #

   While leading a nightclub job, the late "Deacon Jim" Lawyer spent much of the first set on the mike, flirting with a long-haired beauty seated at a dimly-lit table in the corner. When his efforts produced no reaction he finally said,"Stand up, Honey. What's your name?"

     The long-haired beauty stood up to a height of 6'5", turned around to reveal a full moustache and beard, and replied, "My name is 'Al'."

# # #

     One June day I overheard two kids discussing their graduation ceremony. “...And when the graduating class walks in the band plays this real slow march called ‘Papa Smurf’s Dance’.”    

     Sir Edward Elgar had no idea he’d be so immortalized.

# # #

From Rick Stepton:

   A musician turned down Buddy Rich’s offer of a tour, saying that he had settled down and bought a dog, and that he just couldn’t take living on the road any more.

     Buddy snapped back, “What? You’d rather stay home with your dog than play with my band?! ...I’ve got to meet this dog!”

# # #

   Everyone was hungry after the Nighthawks' late job in Rhode island so I told them about the famous Mayflower Diner on the way back to New York. "What's good there?" they asked. I said, "Well, I like their Liver & Onions." Strangely enough, almost everyone approved and we started home.

   So at about 2:30 in the morning two guys in tuxedos walked into this all-night diner and both ordered liver and onions. Ten minutes later three more guys in tuxedos walked in, sat at another table and all ordered liver and onions. Fifteen minutes later when five more guys in tuxedos did the same thing the chef warily stuck his head out of the kitchen door looking around nervously for hidden cameras. I think he still feels like he's been tricked somehow.

# # #

Tony Tedesco had just finished playing an extremely demanding show that required every bit of his advanced training as a percussionist. As he was wheeling his drums through the lobby after the performance, an elderly Jewish lady smiled appreciatively at him and remarked,  “Nice banging!”

# # #

   The Japanese people I know have always amazed me with their ability to master the English language, but they do have a problem pronouncing the letter "L", making it sound like the letter "R". My favorite example of this was told to me by sax player Jack Stuckey.

     After a concert on a tour of Japan a very excited Japanese gentleman came running up to him applauding furiously and said, "Your music just makes me want to crap and crap and crap!"

# # #

My father-in-law, piano tuner Richard Zoller, got  an emergency call from the local theater to fix a broken string on their grand piano. Leaving the theater after finishing the job he glanced up at the marquee to find that he’d just replaced the “G”-string for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

# # #

A friend of Linc Milliman’s who lived between the hospital and the fire station in the middle of downtown Manhattan found out that Linc lived in rural Rockland County.
     “I spent a weekend there once.” He said. “How do you get any sleep with all those goddam crickets?”

# # #

When Bruce McNichols walked into the Atlantic City ballroom amidst frantic preparations for that night's show he spotted what must have been the agent for the affair bustling around giving orders to the staff. To introduce himself, he approached the agent and said, "Hi, I'm Bruce McNichols from the Smith Street Society Jazzband." The agent wheeled around and answered absently, "Yeah, yeah. Same here..."

# # #

One night at the old Red Blazer Vince Giordano informed the crowd of Nighthawks fans that it was Bix Beiderbecke’s birthday.

“If he were alive today he would be 92 years old,” Vince said, “...and he’d be playing here on Thursday nights!”

# # #

Singers often have to modify gender-specific lyrics. (Like a guy singing “The Man I Love” etc.)

My favorite example of this is the girl in a nightclub who sang an impassioned version of “Sidney By Starlight”.

# # #

On a gig with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks the wedding cake was festooned with hundreds of little silver metallic decorations. When the bride, who had consumed a considerable amount of alchohol went to cut it she lost her balance and received quite a gash on her hand. After it was bandaged up the festivities continued. It was sweet revenge for pastry everywhere. Just this once, the cake cut the bride!

# # #

The band from Condon's was hired to play jazz  versions of carols for the Christmas tree lighting at Lincoln Center. Eddie Polcer had brought a book of holiday music so he could sing the ones he didn't know.

Out of the intellectual but very enthusiastic audience (the kind that sings second verses in Latin) came a bespectacled young woman with a request; "Could you play 'Good King Wenceslas' ?"

Hastily checking the book, Eddie assured her that he could.

It was extremely cold and getting dark, and because of his concentration on the words, he realized that he must have sung the wrong melody when he sang,

 "Good King Wen -

                   slas looked

               ce -               out"

and the crowd eagerly answered,  " E- I - E - I - O ! "

# # #

One December Joe Hanchrow told me he had taken his kids to see “The Nutcracker”. I told him I was really impressed because I had trouble just getting my kids to go see the dentist!

# # #

After a concert by a pick-up dixieland band a fan asked, “How often do you boys play together?”

Herb Gardner answered, “Oh, about every five measures.”

# # #

Allen Cary returned to his apartment one evening to find his roomate, Jay Brackett, thoroughly sloshed, sprawled at the kitchen table with a bucket of chicken wings, clutching a mostly-finished bottle of chianti.

In disgust, he accosted his drunken friend; “Jay! Red wine with fowl?!!”

# # #

Our cue to start the music for the featured act at the Waldorf was the PA announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen... Miss Kathy Lee Gifford!" During the long wait before the show, the guys in the reed section grew bored and began fitting pieces of their clarinets together to form a nine-foot long composite with a mouthpiece on one end and four pairs of hands fingering the rest.

Just as they were beginning to produce some truly ominous sounds on the thing, the PA boomed out; "Ladies and Gentlemen..."  During the ensuing panic, as clarinet parts were flying in all directions with everyone trying to get their horns back together, the announcer continued "...please take your seats so we can begin the show."

# # #

Joe Madding was asked by a beautiful young choreographer if music could be written that would move in groups of seven beats. It was rather uncommon, he admitted, but he agreed to write something for her. Inspired by her combination of beauty and musical sophistication, he produced a demo of a 5-minute masterpiece in 7/4 time and gave it to her within a week.

The next time they met she said, “It’s nice, but it doesn’t seem to fit the dance. Let me show you... It goes; One, two, three, four, five , six, seven, AAAND one, two, three, four...”

# # #

During its school concert presentations the Smith Street Society Jazz Band includes music ranging from early jazz to rock & roll, so the bandstand is packed with old and unusual instruments banjos, tubas, whistles, an antique drum set, etc.

Before one of these concerts a group of curious teenagers was checking out the set-up. One exclaimed, "Hey man, look at this - it’s a real classic!" "Oh yeah," said another, "A DX7! They don’t make those any more!"

# # #

Herb Gardner saw a group of normally busy club date musicians sitting at the bar of the Red Blazer on a Friday night. He asked if they weren’t working that night.

“Yeah,” one of them said wearily. “We just finished an Israeli seven-hour continuous. We came in here just to hear some major chords!”

# # #

As Bob Martinez started playing on a banjo single for a sing-along party at a nursing home, a particularly loud lady in the middle of the front row began to shout out her opinions. ‘This guy is awful! He can’t play and his
voice stinks! Get him outta here!”    

Bob bravely continued despite the tirade, and finally the woman fell asleep.

Things were going along pretty well, but he noticed that, to his horror, she was waking up.

She opened her eyes, listened for a minute and loudly exclaimed, “Now this guy is much better!”

# # #

Linc Milliman had a 5 P.M. job at the Rainbow Room that called for acoustic bass, electric bass (with amp) and tuba. He left his house early, fought his way through rush hour traffic, found a place to park, wrestled all his equipment into the building and waited for an elevator that had enough room

When he arrived on the 107th floor, he asked the guard standing there, “Which one is the Rainbow Room?” The guard pointed out the window and replied, “That one - over there.”

Linc had gone to the World Trade Center instead of the RCA building, several miles away. Luckily, the traffic patterns were running smoothly uptown, and he was only a few minutes late at the right location.

# # #

Social climbing is all relative. At a recent parade we overheard someone playing bass drum for a dixieland band whisper to the guy  next to him, “I’m really a banjo player.”

# # #

Tony Price had been looking forward to recording with Bert & Ernie, two of the muppets from “Sesame Street,” but he returned from the date disappointed.

“Aww, Bert and Ernie never showed up,” he explained, “they just sent a couple of guys who sounded like them.”

# # #

As Debbie Weiss came rushing into a job with only five minutes to spare, she panted, “I’m exhausted just running from the train.”

Herb Gardner, the leader, thought for a moment and replied, “You know, Debbie, if you just jump off the tracks those things can’t get you...”

# # #

Since time was tight at the end of a jazz trio gig, Bruce McNichols and Joe Hanchrow decided to change into the lederhosen, long stockings and little German hats for their night job before driving to the location.

“You can’t do that,” protested Randy Reinhart, who wasn’t on the second gig. “What if you get in an accident?!”

# # #

While playing intermission piano on a job with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks I noticed one of the guests watching me intently. Finally he came up and said, “You look exactly like the guy who plays trombone with the Smith Street Society. You could be his twin brother!”

When I explained that I was the same guy and just played different instruments with different bands, he drew back, scowled and said, “Nah... you don’t look THAT much like him.”

# # #

Only in New York! It was Sunday, July 4, 1976 and Herb Gardner had a job on top of the RCA Building for the parade of tall ships. Terrible traffic was predicted, so he switched his trombone to a hard case and took a train to the city. When he opened the case ten minutes before the gig, however, he found that he’d forgotten to include the slide!

He quickly went down 80 floors to the deserted city streets without much hope, but managed to find an open pawn shop and return about twenty minutes later with a corroded old trombone in a paper bag to play the rest of the job. The shopkeeper felt so bad about the condition of the horn that he included a free book, "How to Play the Trombone."

# # #

Rumor had it that there had been a trio job in Westchester County on which the trombone and banjo players, discovering that the last train back to Manhattan departed before the final set, left Art Hovey, the tuba player, to finish the gig alone.

Art later confirmed the story:

“Oh yes, I started with a dixieland tune and went into a sing-along medley. Then I decided it was time for a ‘Tuba Feature’ number!”

# # #

During a beak a customer asked the usual question "Are you Herb Gardner, the writer?"

As I started to once again deny being the famous playwright, he continued "The one who sends all those stories to Bill Crow?"

For once I was able to puff up to my full height and say, "Why yes, as a matter of fact I AM Herb Gardner, the writer!"

# # #

When Motown Records recently staged a parade through the streets of Harlem they inexplicably included a marching dixieland band. While the parade was assembling, an elderly local resident came out his front door to see this bunch of guys in red and white striped vests with tubas and banjos in the midst of a sea of Motown rock bands on trucks with giant sound systems.

He broke into a huge grin and asked, “Are you boys LOST?”

# # #

The Smith Street Society Jazz Band had a Sunday night concert to play in Syracuse, NY.Since we were split up on different jobs the night before, we all flew in separately. “Deacon Jim” Lawyer was particularly looking forward to an exceptionally luxurious flight, since he’d booked one that promised ‘X-7 service to Syracuse.”

When we went to pick him up at the airport he was nowhere to be found. The girl at the counter explained, “X-7 service means it doesn’t fly on Sundays.”

# # #

One day during the filming of “Bloodhounds on Broadway”, something in the catered lunch gave nearly every one in the cast, from Madonna to Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, a bad case of food poisoning. To complicate matters, the band was scheduled to play at the Red Blazer that night. During the gig, the personnel fluctuated from 12 down to about 4 as various musicians put down their horns and bolted from the bandstand.   

After a week filming resumed - with a new caterer. At lunch, an elderly extra was heard complaining, “Aah, the food was better last week!”

# # #

The extremely obnoxious loud drunken woman on the dance floor in front of the Nighthawks pointed at Vince Giordano and bellowed,”Hey you! Play ‘String of Pearls’!”

In spite of the annoyance, Vince replied politely, “I’m sorry, we don’t know that one.”

She danced by again; “I said, play ‘String of Pearls’!”

Vince again declined and ended the set. During the break the woman became louder and managed to antagonize everyone in the club. The owner was forced to physically remove her from the premises as the band was returning to the stand for the next set.

Herb Gardner looked at Vince and asked, ‘923?’

Vince replied, “What else?!” And so, as the woman was kicked out the front door she could hear the band playing the unmistakable strains of (what else?) ‘String of Pearls.’ Of course the band got a standing ovation.

# # #

When Dill Jones first came to New York from Wales, he was hired to play solo piano at a private party. A beautiful lady approached him and murmured, “Can you please play ‘Fiesta’?” Dill didn’t know the tune, but, trying to please, played every Latin-American tune he knew. The woman returned, displeased. “Can’t you play ‘Fiesta’?”

“I’m sorry, I just don’t know that tune.”

“No, no! Yuzz’r playin’ too slow! Canchaplay fyasta?!”

# # #

 Tubaist Joe Hanchrow knew that trombonist Dick Rath was the editor of a boating magazine, so the first time they played in a band together he asked him about boats;

 “So, what size boat are you driving now, Dick?”

 “It’s a 27 footer.”

 Joe puffed himself up just a little.

 “Oh well, I just got a 28 foot cabin cruiser, myself.”

 “Well, Joe, the boats I drive are measured by the beam. It’s 120 feet long...”    

# # #

     The Maitre’d at a posh New York hotel complained bitterly to Vince Giordano that two of his musicians had been seen helping themselves to some food in the kitchen. Vince stormed after the offenders and, angrily waving a finger in their faces, said, “Don’t either of you guys smile, because I’m supposed to be scolding you. Just tell me one thing; WHERE’S THE FOOD?!”

 

 When a young bride-to-be balked at the price for hiring his New Deal Orchestra Robbie Scott explained that these were the finest musicians available, all experts on their instruments, able to play all styles of music, and thoroughly experienced at making every party a spectacular event.

 She thought for a moment and asked, “How much would it be for musicians that aren’t quite that good?”

# # #

 During a break at the Red Blazer, two beautiful young Japanese girls came up to us to say how much they enjoyed our music. Ever the high school history teacher, Henry Newberger, to display his worldly knowledge, said, “ 'O  - HI -  O’; That’s the way you say ‘hello’ in Japanese, isn’t it?”

 One of the girls frowned and replied, “No... we say, ‘KEN   -   TUC   -   KY’! “

# # #

 At a dance job in Rockaway, NY the crowd was a very strange and weird bunch of young kids who had never heard our kind of music. When we played “Stardust” and they started to do a slow-motion version of “The Twist” I turned to drummer Richie Barron and said, “Man, I wonder what FAR Rockaway must be like!”

# # #

  Playing a Sunday brunch with a strolling banjo band Henry Newberger, with a napkin over one arm and his horn in the other, strode up to the startled couple at the quiet table in the corner.

 “I’m Henry, and I’ll be your tuba player for the afternoon!”

# # #

  To hold the attention of a music class of teenaged boys, I told them that learning a little piano would fix their social lives. If they could learn to play the accompaniment to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Heart and Soul” no teenage girl could resist sitting next to them and playing the melody. They were doing pretty well at it, but the peculiar look on the face of the teacher’s aide at the back of the room made me think that maybe I’d been a little flippant about reducing the serious business of music education to a way to pick up chicks. After the class she came over to me and said, “That’s the way I met my husband!”

# # #

  In an effort to reach a younger audience, veteran Dixieland bands often present  elementary school programs. At one of these the principal of the school, emphasizing the fact that the musicians were improvising rather than reading, asked the students, “Now, what does your school band have that this jazz band doesn’t?” (Meaning music stands.)

 One little girl shyly raised her hand and said, “Hair?”

# # #

   I think the Democrats lost in 2004 because they sent rock bands to the swing states.

# # #

  When I mentioned to Dan Levinson that my electric piano had cost $900 he said, "They've come out with a new version of it that's a grand."    
     I said, "How do you get it in the car?"

# # #

   The members of Banu Gibson's "New Orleans Hot Jazz" were relaxing with a few drinks at an outdoor cafe in Syracuse, NY. At midnight the owner came out and said they'd have to move inside, since Syracuse had a law against serving outdoors after midnight. John-Erik Kellso remarked, "Wow, that's the first time I've ever been kicked INTO a bar!"

# # #

   Bassist Arvell Shaw told me that, after years of playing concerts every night with Louis Armstrong's All-stars, each one of which began with "Back Home Again In Indiana", he desperately needed a change. He gave his notice and booked himself with a be-bop band that would be as different from Louis' band as he could get.

   The first tune they called was "Donna Lee", the famous bop head based on the chord changes of  (what else?) "Back Home Again In Indiana".

# # #

   The clown band had only 15 minutes to get something to eat at the local diner. The waiter assured them that hamburgers would take only 5 minutes so they had plenty of time. When they finally came out, 13 minutes later, Joe Hanchrow was furious and was giving the owner a piece of his mind when Bruce McNichols remarked, "Joe’s argument would be a little more forceful without the floppy shoes and big red nose."    

     A little girl observing this scene told her mother, "Mommy, that clown is MEAN!"

# # #

 When calling tunes bandleaders often have irreverent  versions of their actual titles, like "Good Night Sweatshirt" or "In The Nude". My favorite is when I can call for the beautiful Hoagy Carmichael ballad, "Snot Pail Moon" ... which, of course, turns out to be "The Nearness of You".  (“Snot the pale moon that excites me...")

# # #

   One of the musicians on an out-of town gig gave tuba player Tom Saunders a wake-up call in his hotel room after a late night of post-concert partying.

   "Oh Man," said Tom, "I got real sick and just threw up all over the room."

   "Well then, clean it up and get down here. We've got a plane to catch."

   "That's just it." moaned Tom. "I can't clean it up. I've already packed all the towels!"

# # #

   Sometimes the trickiest thing for a bandleader trying to play requests is figuring out exactly which song they're asking for. Some are easy, like the young girl who wanted the Stan Rubin Orchestra to play  "that song where the whole band stands up and yells, '8000!'"

   Others are real mysteries. When the group of Argentinians requested "Imachinin" from the Smith Street Society, it took lots of futile guessing before one of them was able to sing the beginning of it "Oh when the Saints, Imachinin..."

   Robbie Scott told me of one request for "Somebody Obvious". Again, much questioning and guessing before the customer hummed the first few bars of "Samba di Orfeus."

# # #

   At a children's jazz concert 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..."

# # #

   According to music dictionaries, an archaic term for written down music that had to be read, as opposed to memorized or improvised music was “Prick-song”. The usage may be obsolete, but I know a lot of jazz musicians who still feel this way...

# # #

   In an uncharacteristically serious conversation during a break, the members of the Smith Street Society were discussing different approaches to making up a jazz solo: harmonic or melodic thinking. Young Jon-Erik Kellso was our guest that night, so finally we asked him, "Jon, what do you think about when you’re improvising?"

   He paused, then said, "Mostly I think about candy and little animals in the woods..."

# # #

   Bandleaders are always wary if the unexpected. While answering a "Happy Birthday" request I got a sudden panicky feeling that something was terribly wrong with the sound of the song.

   Later I found out that all the guests at this party were members of a light opera company. The problem with "Happy Birthday" was that they sang it in tune and in perfect four-part harmony instead of the usual collection of random tone clusters we’ve come to expect.

# # #

On the way to a job I tuned the car radio to WQXR in the middle of some terrific violin music, so I couldn't wait to find out what it was.

   What a disappointment to hear the stuffy announcer intone, "That was...'I Own A Brown Violin...' " (What a dumb title! Lots of people have brown violins!) But then he continued, "...playing Mozart's Violin Concerto in A Minor."

   It seems that Iona Brown is a helluva violinist.

# # #

In most schools there's a good-natured rivalry between the vocal and instrumental music departments. I witnessed a triumph for the instrumentals at a recent concert.

     After a stern command to sing the "Star Spangled Banner"  loudly and clearly from the vocal music teacher, a few obedient souls murmured a barely audible, "Oh say, can you see..." followed by the entire audience eagerly providing the sound of the cymbals:   "KSHH".

# # #

   While playing a solo piano cocktail hour for a celebrity gala Vince Giordano looked up to see a fantasy coming to life. With outstretched arms and beaming smile, glamorous Jane Fonda was hurrying straight for him across the dance floor. About five feet from the piano however, she stopped short, her face darkening into a frown.

   “YOU’RE not Peter Duchin!” she exclaimed as she turned and walked away.

# # #

   There was a good deal of drinking at the party in Newport and a particularly inebriated young woman dancing in front of the band fell backwards into the reed section. When she struggled to get up, her long hair got caught in the ligature of Dan Block’s clarinet.
   Randy Reinhart, hearing the sax section stop playing, looked up just in time to see an "Iwo Jima" type tableaux of saxophone players reaching up for the clarinet in the hair of the girl staggering away from the bandstand. (...with the wood and the wind in her hair.)

# # #

 Famous jazz radio show host and educator Phil Schaap, known for his lengthy, scholarly introductions to his jazz selections, celebrated a birthday by coming to the Cajun restaurant on a night when I was leading Stan Rubin’s big band. Naturally, we played “Happy Birthday” in his honor, after which I announced, “Those of you familiar with Mr Schaap’s work will realize that I should have talked about the song ‘Happy Birthday’ for half an hour before we actually played it.”

# # #

 In response to Barry Bryson ‘s teasing about his girth, Joe Hanchrow snapped, “Cancel the following dates...”

 Barry retorted, “that threat would mean more if you actually had any dates for me.”

 Joe answered, “ Well... if I get New Year’s Eve... cancel it!”

# # #

 Between sets on every job, Max Kaminsky would circulate through the audience trying to sell his autobiography, “My Life In Jazz”.

       As a tribute to Bix, I gave him the name, “Max Buy-da-book”.

(Henry Red Allen usually gets credited for this one because he announced it at the Metropole after I told it to him.)

# # #

Jake Hanna told me this one:
     One of Benny Goodman’s former guitar players  told him that he had just landed a speaking part in a new show about the life of singer Peggy Lee.
     “What part do you play?” asked Benny.
     “I play the part of Dave Barbour, Peggy’s guitar-playing husband.” he replied . 
     “Oh, then you really don’t have much of a speaking part at all, do you?” observed Benny. 
 

# # #

 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!”

# # #

Australian trumpeter Bob Bernard told me about a jazz musician that was having one of those perfect days. When he got to the club for his gig he felt great. His favorite players were in the band, there was a large audience and everyone was upbeat. On the first tune he played the solo of his life, and the out-chorus swung into a spectacular ending, after which there was complete silence; no applause at all. He felt completely deflated until, from the corner of the room came the slow but persistent sound of one person clapping. Feeling somewhat vindicated, he smiled and looked around to see a lady in the corner pounding the bottom of a catsup bottle.

# # #

 In college, Joe Hanchrow became very enthusiastic about his course in atonal music, taught by a relatively famous 12-tone composer. The conclusion of the course was to be a performance by the local symphony orchestra of the piece the class had been studying. Since he’d been so fascinated by the intricacies of the tone rows and their permutations, Joe got a front-row seat and prepared himself for a musical treat. The next thing he remembers was waking up to applause. The mathematics was great but the actual sound of the music had put him into a deep sleep in the first few minutes.

# # #

 One night after a late gig Vince Giordano started up his old Volkswagen squareback only to find that the cable from the gas pedal to the throttle had snapped. The engine ran OK, but nothing happened when he pushed on the pedal. Since the car was open to the engine compartment in the back, he was able to take a string from his bass, tie one end to the throttle, wrap the other end around a drumstick and drive home using his hand as a gas pedal.

# # #

     One night at the Cajun the entire audience had left by the beginning of the last set. Stan Rubin’s big band played the last 45 minutes to one enthusiastic Japanese gentleman sitting in the front row. After the last tune I announced, of course, “Thank you, one and all!” ..which, of course, he was.

# # #

 Introducing “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue”, Barry Bryson told the story of the concert program in Germany that had listed it as, “Walking Pompously With An Animal Carcass Roasted Whole.”

 After the next song, “You Are My Sunshine”, I announced, “Of course in German that would be “You Are My Giant, Flaming Ball Of Gas.”

# # #

     Joe Hanchrow noticed John Gill busily tuning his banjo ten minutes before the end of the gig. He asked, “Why are you tuning up when the job is almost over?”
     John explained, “Oh, I’m tuning for tomorrow night’s gig.

# # #

     In a philosophical moment trumpeter Randy Reinhart observed, “Your success in life may depend on how much you can remember, but your happiness depends on how much you can forget.”

# # #

     On a gig for the opening of a community center in Ossining a woman asked trumpeter Lew Green, “Do you know the way to the new swimming pool?” He, of course, replied, “Sorry, lady, we don’t take requests.”

# # #

     Carrying his tuba home from a gig, Vince Giordano passed an outdoor flea market. One of the bargain hunters took one look at Vince with his horn and approvingly remarked, “Oh wow, what a find!

# # #

Sunday morning of a swelteringly hot weekend at the Connecticut Jazz Festival I was sitting in with the Salty Dogs band when Lew Green announced to the audience, “ If you’re wondering why it’s been so hot all weekend, it’s because Friday night we all died and went to Hell. Now here you are... and we’re your band! ... and you’re our audience! And here’s your singer from Hell, Miss Carole Leigh!”

Then, recognizing a face in the crowd, he said, “Reverend! What are you doing here?”

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     Stan Rubin introduces his arrangement of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkely Square” by saying, “If you liked World War Two, you’ll really enjoy this next number.”

# # #

     One of the regulars in Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks asked lead alto sax player Chuck Wilson, “How was that sub I sent in last week?”
     Chuck snorted and replied, “That was no sub. That was a Destroyer!”

# # #

   It’s usually easy to tell a good newspaper review from a bad one right away, but Dan Levinson was mystified by one that started out with the headline, “ITJUST DOES’NT GET ANY BETTER!”

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Between sets on every job, Max Kaminsky would circulate through the audience trying to sell his autobiography, “My Life In Jazz”.
       As a tribute to Bix, I gave him the name, “Max Buy-da-book”.

(Henry Red Allen usually gets credited for this one because he announced it at the Metropole after I told it to him.)

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In an interview for Guitar World Acoustic Magazine Paul McCartney says that a guy in a New York music store recognized him and said, “ Oh man, I’m a bass player, and I’ve always wanted to know what strings you use.”

Paul said, “Kind of long, shiny ones.”

He swears that he wasn’t trying to be funny. He just didn’t know.

# # #

   A saxophone player I know is a master at arriving to a gig at the last minute, but one night he wasn’t there for the first two tunes and we began to worry about him. Just then he came rushing in and said, “Oh, Herb, I’m sorry for being late; I got here so early I went out to get something to eat.”

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