Jazz Professional               

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, in music.
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?
Bert Ambrose

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 introduction.
Bert Ambrose

Why are they playing Happy Birthday? I'm not conducting Happy Birthday.
Igor Stravinsky

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to play that old Duke Ellington standard: 'Take a Train.'
Lawrence Welk

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 and keys.
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 tam-tam?
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 taken drunk.
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.
John Dankworth

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?
Band spokesman.
None whatsoever.
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.
Winston Churchill

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 I want.
Buddy Rich

Why are we bothering to play? Nobody is listening.
Bert Ambrose

How much does the job pay?
Ten pounds.
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 room.
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.
Bavarian bandleader

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 solo.
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 my section.
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 others?
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.
Bert Ambrose

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...
Stan Kenton
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.
W.C. Fields

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 world.
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 nobody.
Kai Winding

All of a sudden—nothing 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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