Jazz Anecdotes

Les petites histoires du jazz


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Largest Trombone Ensemble
The largest trombone ensemble consisted of 289 musicians, who gathered to play for 9 minutes 28 seconds at Café-zalencentrum, Broekhuizen, Netherlands, on June 8, 1997


Most Valuable Jazz Instrument
The most valuable jazz instrument is a saxophone once owned by Charlie Parker, which sold for £93,500 ($144,500) at Christie's in South Kensington, London, UK, on September 7, 1994. The Grafton acrylic saxophone was given to him in England in 1953.


Glenn Miller and Henry Mancini

While picking the 45 members of his Army Air Force Band, Miller rejected Henry Mancini, a 19-year-old piano player. Ten years later, Mancini wrote the title theme and arranged the music for the film The Glenn Miller Story.


Lester Young 's first instrument

"I used to play drums in my teens but I quit  when I was 13 because it took too long  to pack and unpack; I looked at the girls but by the time I packed  my accessories they were all gone." - Lester Young


How much for a drummer's living?

One day drummer Specs Powell was asked what the difference was between a drummer and a percussionist. "About 300 dollars," said Specs.


Thelonious Monk's profession

One evening before a concert, blind pianist George Shearing was being helped onstage so he could do a sound check. Thelonious Monk was already rehearsing at the piano. Shearing: "It doesn't matter, I'll come back when the tuner's finished."



Lester Young and drummer

Lester Young had been forced to hire a drummer he didn't like much. During a break, the drummer asked Lester:"Say, Prez, when was it the last time we played together?" "Tonight," said the saxophonist.



Al Cohn's definition of a gentleman

"A gentleman is someone who can play the accordeon perfectly, but refrains from doing so." Al Cohn



Al Porcino 's great idea

After a concert, bandleader Stan Kentonsaid to his musicians: "I think we have reached an impasse; the routine is getting to us. We've got to find someting new, something we've never done before." Trumpetter Al Porcino had an idea: "How about ... swing, Stan?"



Benny Goodman Live at Carnegie Hall

On 16th January 1938, Benny Goodman took his band into the Carnegie Hall for a concert that was to make history. Backstage among the musicians the atmosphere was electrical. The prospect of playing on that sacred stage in the footsteps of some of the greatest classical legends scared most of them out of their wits. Trumpet player Harry James was the first to walk on and, as he left the wings, he quipped : "I feel like a whore in church." The concert was a triumph.





Note : You will be able to find some more jazz anecdotes in Bill Crow's Jazz Anecdotes (Oxford University Press, 1993). Share the Jazz anecdotes you know of on our forum .


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