Thursday, May 19, 2005

Dear dairy, I mean diary....

In working on my Bill Black CD release (due in September), I was recently able to track down a member of the '49 Gene Krupa band who has almost preternatural recollection of his time with the outfit. Someone with more knowledge of the band would do well to interview him. Very articulate and amenable. Interesting fellow. Eventually left the music biz for the wide, wonderful, exciting world of....public seating. Then when he retired---sometime in the 80s I guess---he moved to Florida and fell into a five-year, five-nights-a-week gig playing lounge piano at a hotel. "Tonight! Direct from the Gene Krupa Band. . .sort of....."

He could recall fascinating minutiae, like, oh the time Ethel Krupa, Gene's wife, found an expensive ankle bracelet of her husband's inscribed "With Love From Lana [Turner]."

Gene: Oh, honey, that ain't s**t.

Ethel: That's exactly what it is.

Forthwith, she then flushed it down the toilet.

Also recalled that Bill Black never carried suitcases. Everything in paper bags, so the guys in the band called him "Bundles Black."

Jazz sidemen - musician stories of that era are so wonderful, vide the two books of them recalled by Gerry Mulligan bassist Bill Crow.

Yesterday a musician laid a great Jack Sheldon tale on me. For those unfamiliar with the still musically active Sheldon, in addition to being one of the great jazz trumpet players, he is perhaps the last true hipster standing. The shaggy dog tale is too long and involved to recount in detail here. But the punchline goes something like:

Friend (to Jack): Have a nice day.

Jack: I'm afraid I've already made other plans.

For years I've been looking for a perfect anodyne to "Have a nice day." The best I could come up with, though, was "How the Hell Can I?" Sheldon's "I've made other plans" is perhaps the perfect comeback.

In the 70s and 80s, Sheldon was one of the busiest musicians in Hollywood, and a familiar face to most of America through his regular appearances on the Merv Griffin TV show. So I could hardly believe my eyes one time when, about twenty years ago at L.A.s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, I espied Sheldon out on the plaza playing trumpet and anecdotalizing (as only he can) with a regulation tip jar at his feet. I later learned that he did this on a regular basis. Probably for no other real reason than to keep his embouchure in shape. Now, I ask you, How Hip Is That? The Power of Positive Woodshedding!

For the Bill Black project, I am going to the library today to reel through three years of microfilm for Down Beat mag, circa '48 - '50! Talk about mal de mer! I should take some Dramamine with me.

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