Collected by Ron Simmonds
I have never heard of a real soloist playing before the public on a Trumpet.
One cannot play a decent song even, properly, on it, and it has sprung up in
the last few years like "jaz" music, which is the nearest Hell, or the Devil,
Herbert L.Clarke in a letter to Elden Benge Jan. 13th 1921
You have decided to give up an honest job to become a musician.This is something
you will regret for the rest of your life.
Factory manager, Alfred Herbert Ltd, Coventry
What are those idiots in the back row playing there?
We may not be good, but we're loud.
Laddy Busby, trombone player
They were silent men, wearing overcoats, and carrying what appeared to be
cases for musical instruments.
James Thurber, The Remarkable Case of Mr Bruhl
I got up from the piano and staggered over and fell on the davenport.
Hoagy Carmichael on hearing Bix Beiderbecke for the first time
Get your foot the hell off my stage.
Buddy Rich to member of audience in Ronnie's
Well, I ain't never heard no blues played like that!
Cannonball Adderley on hearing John Coltrane
Play the other one. I'm not chancing that sods' opera in the back there.
Ken Mackintosh, bandleader, after hearing a new arrangement of God Save the Queen
I can't understand these guys who just have to have your autograph. I asked
one of them 'What do you do when you get home, take it out and look at it?'
Artie Shaw, BBC interview
Dis band should disband.
Joe Harris, drummer
Quick, talk to me. Say anything. I can't stand the way the band plays this
Why are they playing Happy Birthday? I'm not conducting Happy Birthday.
And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to play that old Duke Ellington
standard: 'Take a Train.'
Why are you leaving? You can run out of bands, you know.
Ted Heath (to me)
The ballet skirts made the bull elephants look ridiculous.
George Brinton Beale, bandleader, on Stravinsky's Circus Polka
Give us your sunny smile, and some of that ready wit that we love and cherish,
and have come to regard as our heritage.
George Boocock, trumpeter, to Stan Roderick
How can he sing? He can't even talk.
Tom McQuater on Johnny Ray
If you don't mind me saying so: that was f- murder.
Member of audience to Tony Mansell after hearing him sing in Green's Playhouse, Glasgow
...under the two armpits of the player. When he had securely strapped them
to his person...he took the Phagotus in his hands, sat down, and held it upright
against his thigh...his next move was to pump the bellows with his right arm.
This filled the windsack under his left arm ...he then had to employ his disengaged
faculties (if any) in the production of music by means of the various holes
Cecil Forsyth,The Phagotus of Afranio
The saxophones...are not expected...to behave like demented cats...
Ralph Vaughan Williams, notes to his Symphony No.9 in E minor
Take out the last beat of the five-four bar at A and put it at the beginning
of the three-four bar at letter K.
Peter Herbolzheimer, bandleader
I don't know, I haven't tried today.
Maynard Ferguson, when asked how high he could play
Why does the band sound terrible when I play with it, and good when I don't?
Fred MacMurray, alto saxophonist/film actor guesting with the Squadronaires
The best musician is the hungry musician.
Werner Müller, German bandleader
What is jazz?
Old Bailey judge
Will you please ask the trombonists to stop firing wads of paper at the
Assistant TV director, Wood Green Empire
No livestock allowed in the orchestra pit.
Lawrence Leonard, conductor, West Side Story
We're in the most stupid business in the world.
Artie Shaw, BBC interview
So here I am, crazier than a motherf_____ with a butcher knife...
Miles Davis, Miles The Autobiography
I'm afraid that So-and-So won't be playing here tonight as he has been suddenly
Ronnie Scott, club announcement
There is only one thing in the whole world that I hate more than talking
to you, and that's having to listen to this Godawful band every night.
Bert Ambrose, to me
Will somebody please tell me? Why won't the saxophones come in there when
I give the downbeat?
Werner Eisbrenner, Berlin Concert Orchestra
My band hates me.
Max Greger, Munich bandleader
Vot you mean, I no Americain?
Hungarian trumpeter Ferenc Aszodi to Ramstein PX cashier
This has got to be the worst arrangement I have ever played in my life.
Slide Hampton during a Bernard Ebbinghouse arrangement of 'Hair'
To the unmusical hearer a note on the gong means dinner, this perhaps often
is menacing enough...
Ralph Vaughan Williams, notes to his Symphony No.9 in E Minor
Dinner is served.
Phil Seamen, drummer, after hitting the gong in West Side Story
How are you, Dad?
Hank Shaw upon meeting Ted Heath's wife Moira for the first time
Go to your room!
TV director Dietern Finnern to Shirley Bassey
Why weren't you in the pub in the interval?
Er, I wasn't thirsty.
Well get thirsty.
Johnny Gray to new band member
Getting this band to swing is like trying to row the Queen Mary up a canal
filled with Mars bars.
Phil Seamen about the Parnell band
Life animals must be carried.
Notice on Tempelhof baggage belt
The plot thickens...
Jimmy Wilson, trombonist
He is an excellent drummer, but I would have preferred having him in my
band later in his career, which I am sure will be a brilliant one.
My dad's band hates me.
Max Greger Jnr, son of Munich bandleader
I don't dig pornography. I don't even have a pornograph.
Johnny Edwards, trombonist
If you take that bit you played up an octave down an octave, and that other
bit you played down an octave up an octave I think it'll be all right.
Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!
Woody Herman beating the Joe Loss band into Woodchoppers' Ball
Don't follow me!
Mantovani, after losing his place in the score
Taking into consideration the high cost of living, the rise in interest
rates, inflation, gloomy downward market trends and the gross National Debt,
is there any chance of us getting a raise in the near future?
Jack Parnell, bandleader
And now the Peter Herbolzheimer band is going to play a number written on
the twelve-tone scale, whatever that is.
Ronnie Scott, club announcement
If you play in that club tomorrow night, we're going to machine-gun it.
Bader-Meinhof terrorist to clarinet player Fatty George in Berlin.
Bring out your dead.
Phil Seamen, playing Stan Kenton's Somnambulism
Try rolling it on the floor.
Sir Thomas Beecham to tuba player
Sir Winston, you are drunk. You are very drunk.
Bessie Braddock, MP
Madam, you are ugly. You are very ugly. Tomorrow I will be sober.
Jack Parnell: Right!
Whole band: Wrong!
... debating the down beat after one of his drum solos
How does it feel to be thoroughly incompetent?
Freddy Clayton, trumpeter
If you have any requests, forget 'em. This is my band, and I'll play what
Why are we bothering to play? Nobody is listening.
How much does the job pay?
Make it guineas.
Alan Franks, trumpeter
How did you manage to get that great funky sound on Gloomy Sunday?
London studio musician
I was drunk.
Bill Harris, trombonist
It isn't the money, it's the principle.
Leon Calvert, trumpeter
It isn't the principle, it's the money.
Dave Usden, trumpeter
And nah, we're gonna play anuvver Britishit.
What is the difference between the viola and the violin?
The viola burns longer.
Bert Powell, viola player
No! No! No! You have to feel it. Feel it!
Joachim Heider, Pop arranger, Berlin
When I play this music I feel nothing.
Åke Persson, trombone player
When you come into the house mind the dog, don't fall over the kids, and
don't let the cats into the kitchen. I'll be practising the flute in the spare
Kathy Stobart, saxophonist
He damaged both my eardrums last week.
Ted Heath talking about Bobby Pratt, trumpeter
How does this number go?
Jack Parnell, bandleader.
For you - one, two, three, four.
Tom McQuater, trumpet player
Help! I am surrounded by idiots.
Robert Benchley, Los Angeles
If I pay you that much you'll be getting more than I am.
Lionel Hampton (to me after Berlin Jazz Festival)
I want you to throw that pint of beer all over me. Go on. Do it. Aaaaaahhhhhh!
Bob Burns, alto saxophonist
How high can your first trumpet player play?
Anything up to five sharps.
When you rip the trumpet away from me in the opener can you try and do it
a little less brutally?
Roy Castle, compere, Sunday Night at the London Palladium
It's the way I always do it.
Ron Simmonds, trumpeter
My girlfriend can do everything better than I. She can cook, write books,
play piano, sing, she owns a factory and she beats me at cards. I'm not going
to let her get hold of my trombone.
Åke Persson, trombonist
I don't know about you, Mayor Ponsonby, but I had a ball.
Phil Seamen to mayor of Manchester after the premier of West Side Story
And now, with the aid of this common beer glass, I shall play my fifty guinea
Kenny Baker, after being ribbed about playing working men's clubs in 1954
I will not tolerate anyone demonstrating golf strokes with his violin in
Charlie Katz, Parnell TV orchestra leader
How are you, Kraut?
Joe Temperley to border guard at Checkpoint Charlie
If the bass player does that again tonight I'm going to break both his legs.
Åke Persson to Quincy Jones
Get out of my car!
Buddy Rich to Terry Gibbs, in the middle of the Nevada desert
Why isn't the valve trombone player moving his slide in and out with the
German TV producer to Max Greger
Is this the next number, or have we just played it?
We've just played it.
Really? And how was it?
Ron Simmonds, after several champagne cocktails, Dankworth concert, Bull Ring, Majorca, talking to Gus Galbraith, trumpeter
The pianist wishes to know if you have any requests.
Waiter in Chinese restaurant
Yes. Ask him to play some correct changes.
Johnny Keating, composer
Quick! Clear the building! There's a bomb alarm!
Radio Free Berlin security guard
What is he saying? Can't it wait?
Don Ellis, rehearsing for the Berlin Jazz Festival
Are there any more good trumpet players in Budapest?
No. I am the best.
Ron Simmonds talking to Hungarian trumpeter Ferenc Aszodi
This band sounds like a wart.
What can we do next? We've had Artistry in Rhythm, New Concepts, Halls of
Brass, the Wagner, Sketches on Standards, House of Strings, Cuban Fire, the
mellophoniums, the Neophonic...
Why don't we try swinging, Stan?
Al Porcino, trumpet player
Look, I told you all to start at letter B, cut to H, go back to A, then
reprise, take the coda and direct segue into the next number.
Jack Parnell, TV conductor
Yes, but you didn't tell them ten f_____' times.
Norman Stenfalt, pianist
When I was a boy I worked as elephant boy in a circus, walking behind the
great beasts with a shovel. While I was doing it I thought: when I grow up and
get rich and famous I'm going to do something for all the poor elephant boys
in the world.
One day I was rich and famous, and I thought now! Now I can do something for all those elephant boys. And then I thought: f___ them.
That guy over there is an atheist, is dishonest, cheats on his wife and
never practices, yet he plays great jazz and has a job in the best band in the
I go to church every morning, am a good honest husband, practice eight hours a day, play rotten jazz and can't get a gig.
Why are you doing this to me, God?
Because you bug me.
(Submitted by Bobby Lamb)
The only things I like are either illegal or they make me fat.
Bobby Burgess, trombonist
If you crack that last note in In The Mood again tonight I'm going
to give you a damn good hiding.
Jack Owens, bandleader, Coventry
The music scene in Spain is like being nowhere, and playing nothing with
All of a suddennothing happened.
Bobbie Breen, singer
HERB ALPERT: The Tijuana Brass is the biggest thing over there now. Now
there's a band plays like the Salvation Army! That's the worst thing ever created—and
they're making 30 thousand a week! How about that? Louis Armstrong never made
that. Duke and them never did. The greatest in the world never made that kind
of money. These guys take them two trumpets and play with them sad Salvation
Army tones—hit the jackpot! They got a good drummer—guy who keeps the beat.
And, the rest of 'em can play—but the leader's got an idea. He got it from watching
a bullfight, they say. Those guys play what they call a barbershop harmony.
And they got a band up like that. When they first made a record of that, nobody
would buy it. So they borrowed 15 hundred dollars, went to all the radio stations,
stuck it on the air and it hit. How about that? Now their record company's worth
20 million dollars. They're past the Beatles! I didn't dream I'd ever live to
see bands playing bad music and making money.
Wingy Manone in 1966
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