Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
One of the great things about hanging out with Jazz musicians is that you’re never far from a laugh.
Whether it’s a play-on-words in a song title, a nickname, or the telling of a yarn, Jazz musicians love a good chortle.
Playing Jazz takes a lot of concentration, and humor is a great way to relieve the pressure that builds up during a performance, a recording date or even a rehearsal, especially when reading through new music.
Whether you are a Jazz musician or a fan of the music, if you like the transformational feeling that laughter brings on, you can’t do better than a perusal of the funny stories in
Bill Crow’s Jazz Anecdotes [New York: Oxford University Press, 1990].
Here’s an example.
Bill Crow, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
“Not having [trumpeter] Clark Terry tell this one robs it of some of its charm. You have to imagine the devilish look in
Clark’s eye as he sings each song!
A guy walked into a pet store looking for a Christmas gift for his wife. The storekeeper said he knew exactly what would please her and took a little bird out of a cage. "This is Chet," he said, "and Chet can sing Christmas carols." Seeing the look of disbelief on the customer's face, he proceeded to demonstrate.
"He needs warming up," he said. "Lend me your cigarette lighter."
The man handed over his lighter, and the storekeeper raised Chet's left wing and waved the flame lightly under it. Immediately, Chet sang "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful."
"That's fantastic!" said the man.
"And listen to this," said the storekeeper, warming Chet's other wing. Chet sang, "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
"Wrap him up!" said the man. "I'll take him!"
When he got home, he greeted his wife:
"Honey, I can't wait until Christmas to show you what I got you. This is fantastic."
He unwrapped Chet's cage and showed the bird to his wife.
"Now, watch this."
He raised Chet's left wing and held him over a Christmas candle that was burning on the mantlepiece. Chet immediately began to sing, "Silent Night." The wife was delighted.
"And that's not all, listen to this!" As Chet's right wing was warmed over the flame, he sang, "Joy to the World."
"Let me try it," cried the wife, seizing the bird. In her eagerness, she held Chet a little too close to the flame. Chet began to sing passionately, "Chet's nuts roasting on an open fire!""