Transcript:

Speaker Let's start with. When you first heard things that just you would take a sort of sort of chronology through your experiences with good.

Speaker All right. Around 1928, when I was living in White Plains, I played with Kid Band and we thought we were pretty hot stuff. So we'd play a little jazz here, here and there. I remember one of the first numbers that I liked was M-I Blue, which was a popular turn of the day and simple. So what, you got to start someplace. And. Then I joined the band, which had older fellows and had, as a matter of fact. Well, one man, I was still a kid. I was about 17, 18 years old. And this band came out of Stamford, Connecticut. Matter of fact, mostly all the guys in the band were Italian, with the exception myself, which gave a very funny picture when we drive around this large Cadillac. It was a nine past Cadillac. And I was nine days of of, uh, you know, the Al Capone. And so it looked just like a band of thugs.

Speaker And the one kid, you know, the white faced kid was taking the dope or something, although I never did. And that band bettered my introduction to jazz.

Speaker We played quite a few jazz joints. And then to go forward a couple of years, I joined the, uh. Charlie Barnhardt been the Park Central Hotel. On 7th Avenue in New York, and there was a lot of jazz and then we went to New Orleans and then came back after being in Buffalo. Then we went in the world. Said, put it in that order. Then we came back and the band was laid off for a couple of months. And in that time, I joined Joe Haimes band, which was the forerunner of the first Tommy Dorsey band. Tommy got the band almost to a man from Joe Haimes, who was an excellent writer. You know, he arranged very well, a very quiet little man, never said a word, but he could write.

Speaker And from that band, I.

Speaker Was living on Forty Street at the time, we had a group of guys. When I'm named Tony Zimmers, a great tenor saxophone player who didn't get knowing that well. And Rick Flagel and Dave Barber, who was the guitar player who later married Peggy Lee. And we'd have jam sessions up in her room until all hours in the morning.

Speaker Nobody seemed to complain whether it was that bad or good. So, Tony. Was called to CBS to go over and and substitute for Babe Russin, who is taking a two week vacation after a week. We meet every night and Tony got me on the side and said, Chris are trying out trumpet players over their money. Berrigan is leaving when he had his own band at the famous store at that time. But then he was going to Wharton went to bigger things. I said, well, I can't play over there.

Speaker I've never really followed a stick in my life except a little bit in school. He said, Oh, I told me he'd be over there. So you better go. So I did.

Speaker Oddly enough, I got the job immediately, although they had tried out quite a few trumpet players. I guess the reason was because due to the fact that I listened so much to Bunny. He. Infiltrated into my being to a certain degree. And that's what they were looking for, somebody that would take his place. Although nobody ever did really take his place. I just sat in the same chair that he should be in from there. After about three months, I got a call one night from. John Hammon, whom I had known Excuse me again.

Speaker I got a call from John John Hammond, who I had known from the days when I lived in Valhalla, which is about 10 miles below my Tesco mart, Kisco, where he lived at the time.

Speaker And. I did a few gigs around one with Red Norvo, I remember, and he took me home and his old jalopy, whatever it was, I don't know how he could afford. Probably the best car in the world, but he was satisfied with this whole thing. And it got me home to Valhalla and a couple of rides. And we got kind of friendly as much as a young kid toured with John because he'd pretty I'm himself at the time. Anyway, he called me. Know, we saw we ran into each other, started in with I ran into Johnny.

Speaker I ran into John Hammond at the famous door one night. And he said, Chris, do you think you're ready for the Benny Goodman band? Ready? You know who's ready? I didn't say this, but that's what I was feeling inside. After all those days to join the Benny Goodman band was like joining the Yankees at the top when they were the top team or the Beatles later on. Anyway, it was a great thought, but at that precise time, I was about to be married. My wife was now my wife, Ellen.

Speaker So he she said, well, come on down to my place down the village. They gave me the address and I went down the next night and he played me with Bessie Smith and a couple of beers and a couple of airchecks. Benny, out of the Congress Hotel. That's about all I need. And then he said, well, Ben, he's gonna call right after this. Live broadcast.

Speaker So. We waited and manyfold, you should join my. And I said I'd sure like to, but I, I don't know about this. I'm about to be married. He says we'll talk it over, John. I was manege way to get over John. And what have you come. What conclusion you come to is fine. So I turn back to John and he said, What do you think you want? Join the band? I said, I better not. So I was halfway out the door. I said, wait a minute, you don't make a long distance phone call to Philadelphia and talk to my. About to be a wife, Ellen, and I called and she said, sure, she'd be glad to join the band and especially since we were going to California those days. That was like going to the end of the earth was a great experience to go through. So she says I said, will you join? Will you go with me for doing the band? She sure loved it. So that was how I joined the band. He got in touch with Benny and about a week later, two weeks later, this was in May. We were married May 2nd, 1936. Within the next two weeks, I've forgotten exactly how long it was, but I got a phone call. The hotel is stopping at four AM. Harry Goodman and his brother. Of course, he said, I'll be right over. I want to talk to you. You came up to Rome and you had a couple of tickets for two days later to get on the tour and go to Chicago, join the band.

Speaker Well, we were all said John Hammond had gotten me out of my six week notice, which he chose to give CBS. So that was all set. And we got on the train, moved out to Chicago and. We did a rehearsal on the Merchandise Mart, which at that time was the biggest building in America. Not to tell us what the biggest and. After we finished the rehearsal, which everything seemed to go and everybody treated me great, especially a fellow named Dick Clark, who was no longer do not stay with the band too much longer after that. But he introduced me to each and every one of the guys that came in and made me feel relaxed as I could be, although I was nervous, I guess any kid would be so. After the rehearsal, we went back to the hotel we were all stopping at and we wound up in the bar and I was having a drink with the manager. Absolutely. How much? How much money was. I so. I've been getting a hundred and ten dollars a week. And staying in the same spot and working five days a week at CBS. He said, well, how about a hundred?

Speaker I was surprised and I thought to myself, she's, after all, is is a top swing back in the world.

Speaker Uh oh again. I fell for it. I was there. What else can I do? So we started out on that basis. And from there on. We did quite a number of one nighters around that area, around Chicago and in Wisconsin and down in Ohio in the next two to three weeks playing colleges and summer, we used to call roadhouses, which camps here was handling.

Speaker Let's say your wife would join you immediately and she'd gone up. She was in Chicago. And so the two of you would travel and you go in the same car with Benny and at this.

Speaker To tell it from that point. And, you know, we'll go on.

Speaker And the man was traveling with their own cars rather than a bus or trains. The stops weren't that long and in distance in three or four of the guys had their own car. So we could. And we had one car. Well, first of all, I must tell you that I started out writing with my wife when I was writing with Helen Maude and Benny Goodman. He had a new Cadillac, which he. There was not much motive for the driver. He was a much better clarinetist than he was a driver. You know, that car all over the road, they come up on trucks at like 70 miles an hour. I stopped the last minute. His eyes were not too good. He didn't seem to bother him. So we did quite a few one nighters with Benny going from place to place. Later on, we changed my life and I got out of that little scene and we join Peewee Irwin and his wife, who is a newlywed who were newlyweds and married maybe two weeks longer than we were. So we should call it the love car. Then we had one called the silak car that had four people and Dick Clark and his wife and red bellied, who were very quiet people. And they drive for 100 miles without saying a word, you know. So that's got to be the Silah car. And then there was the death car that was made up of Gene Krupa, Nakase Bear and Harry Goodman. And there you see him by the little bit in the back. Be going late at night. One time they got in a tangle with a truck and knocked off a third corner of the back of the car and they went another 50 miles without realizing they only had half a car. So that's where they got their name of the death guy. But we did quite a few one night as that combination came back to I think we left directly from Chicago to go to the West Coast to California and play at the Palomar Ballroom. That would be the second engagement, the first one being the year prior to that with Bunny Berrigan in the band where they really made their first big success. With the airchecks and the people gathering around and shouting and screaming, when we back, we went back to the same place and get the same kind of reaction from the same people. There were many movie stars around. Also, I remember one guy came in two or three times a week was, uh, why don't I remember who do this for? There was one guy that came in quite often. An actor was Ray Milan. He seemed to like swing music very much. And he'd come behind the bandstand where we'd be standing around waiting for the show to go on. It was a show with girls. No. And we talked quite a bit. And there were a lot of people.

Speaker Mickey Rooney used to sit in on the drums and then when he could tangle with away from Gene and then at the same time, that same period, we were doing a. We were doing a.

Speaker Most by trying to foil you doing the film The Big Block. Now we were doing it. You're doing great. I mean, it's great that you're going so right through. But if you get lost, that's fine. Okay.

Speaker And at that same period of time, we were doing a picture called. At that same period of time, we were doing a picture called the big broadcast of nineteen thirty seven. Course you do it here in 1936 so it can be released in 37 and. Plus, that being the Palomar from seven till 2:00 at night. And then we would have to be out on the set early in the morning around 6:00. So we didn't get much sleep and the food was kind of sparse to. And we.

Speaker Since this was ticketing, it started again and tell tell sort of the schedule of your day that you would you know, you've had to be on the set at the pad that the standard the Palomar at 7:00 or 8:00.

Speaker And you played till two or four or something.

Speaker And you went to sleep for an hour or two and then you got up till it just no more details. It was the flavor, right. Right.

Speaker We had a pretty busy schedule at that time. We we're playing at the power pole. We were playing into Palomar from seven o'clock at night till 2:00 in the morning, and then we didn't rush home. But when we got home at three o'clock, we'd have a couple of hours sleep and have to be out on the set of Warner Brothers. And I believe was paramount. This one at six o'clock in the morning.

Speaker So I have to start from a couple hours sleep.

Speaker We get a couple of hours sleep and then up and at em. So we'd be out on the set at Paramount. By six o'clock in the morning to be made up and such. And then we would spend much time just sitting around waiting to go on with nothing happening whatsoever. Then we finally get out of those hot klieg lights, which were the old fashioned type and a really hot in those days. And you'd sweat under there for about whatever the like that period it was. And then we'd get off and everybody it was a cabaret scene. And so there are a lot of little tables around. We'd crawl under tables to get in the shade and so forth, except for Pee wee Irwin and Pee Wee came from Kansas City. And he'd just sit up and just fall asleep like a gnome, you know, just sleep on away. So we spent the day that we would get off for lunch and then we go back and wait to do another bit. And finally, we'd finish about five thirty at night, rush back to our homes, apartments so that we could be at work, dress and a little something and be back start again the same old seven o'clock till 2:00 in the morning. So it was a quite a busy period of time. Luckily, we were all quite young at the time. I think the oldest guy in the band was probably just Stacey. And many ways about the same. But they were in their late 20s, mid to late 20s. Whereas most of us were in our early 20s.

Speaker It was that same trip that many first heard Lyondell and he joined the band. Was that another trip?

Speaker You remember Vito, Vito Mousseau, too, came in. Yeah, right. Yeah.

Speaker Also, at that period of time, many was looking around for another saxophone player to take the place of Dick Clark, whom I mentioned earlier, who quit and went with another band. And so we went down to a. Placed on it was Gilgo Beach or one of the beaches down there. I'm probably wrong about the beach.

Speaker Started start again and don't worry. Gustl.

Speaker Penny was looking to replace a tenor saxophone in the band. So we went down, played a beat on our night off at the Palomar Sunday night, and there was a band playing opposite us with a heck of a saxophone player in the band. He had a tone as big as an elephant hammering away. Tootling whatever you want to call it. And he had some wonderful ideas. And. And his name was read on Mosso. And many of you have heard of. He was a great asset to the band. He joined the band the very next night.

Speaker Stop. Start with Vito. Vito Mousseau, join the band.

Speaker Me. I'm also joined the band the very next night. Monday night. He couldn't read music as he music, oddly enough. But he was such an asset and playing on, many would say, take a course of substance and say take another take to wind up, he'd take five or six courses and he was that good. But the other saxophone players himy certain Lilliput and would help Vito on the reading. They just play play the parts. And Vito would listen. He had the ears as big as an elephant. He come the elephant. And here you will hear the parts of this. You could read the notes. And like his saying was, you know. But it's not them notes. It bothers me. It's in restless. And he had a lot of these little colloquialisms. Uh. He joined the band. And then at that same time, we were a group of us going down to the south part of the south main street in Los Angeles. After our hours here, hear a band down here took our ears and it was Lionel Hampton. We had never heard such a vibraphone player in our life. So we took Benny down one night. A couple of us had made it before and he was knocked out immediately. He always played tape. He always carried his clarinet around with him in those days. And he said, uh. Perhaps he might have. I don't know, man. Let's play. So I sat down to start a plan and they were there for two hours. The play clip past closing time. You know what? It's supposed to be two hours earlier. And should you want to join my band? That very night? Yeah, why not. Perhaps I too love to know why you joined the band and then that was the beginning of the of the quartet. Prior to that, we had you with the band and Terry and Benny and Gene Krupa. That was a nucleus of the trio. And then they formulated the quartet.

Speaker Can you describe how it worked, like on a regular nights?

Speaker So you're playing the Palomar that the band would play a set and then there'd be like a break and the quartet would set it down the floor of the dance hall? Not exactly.

Speaker How it was during the average night. No normal night at the Palomar for ourselves and also in the hotels we played. We the band would play probably two or three sets process to warm up the audience, you know, let them in a little bit of the time and then we'd get off for an intermission and blackout. Everything else had band lights and everything and then put on the big lights down on the floor with a small platform and a trio quartet would perform at halftime. We never know how long to take. Maybe we could take a half hour. It was at least a half hour. Sometimes we run into an hour or an hour and a quarter because it's crowd of the crowd reacted and I mostly did. Many would go on forever because he enjoyed playing with these guys so much. There was such a flexibility in their playing and that was what the average night would be, would be, and carried right on through for as long as I was with the band.

Speaker Well, drink water your. Yeah, I'll take a little sip.

Speaker We'll get straight talking. Also, don't don't let me put you off sitting here with my panel. It's great when you use slang and you relax and just have fun. I don't know a lot of slang. Well, you know, the ones what you do know, I know whatever is right.

Speaker That's hard. The. Artie Shaw, Ben, and we used to get together a lot of times at the Forest Hotel and they had all these jive talk things, you know. And here we were, maybe a step above as far as bands were concerned. Nobody talked that way at. It was pretty, pretty straight.

Speaker Yes, we grew up too small. You weren't as pretentious. Right. So. So then you from L.A., you went to Dallas. Was that the next time?

Speaker Yeah, after we finish the movie, the big broadcast was about that time that we were also finished at the Palomar. I believe we did a couple of record dates. And I don't really call what we recorded because it's all mixed up my mind at this point. So we got on a train. To go to Dallas, Texas, to play the Dallas Exposition. A week or two weeks. And just before we got on the train, Leonard Vanston, who by this time was our Vanning's roadmap.

Speaker Just just before we get on the train to head for Dallas, Texas, Eddie.

Speaker Where's Lester? On the train, you got to where where you just were. All right.

Speaker Just priority were getting on the train to Dallas. Leonard Ragnarsson, who at that time was Benish personal manager, came around and doled out our checks that we'd made for the picture. It was a fairly good amount for those days immediately.

Speaker Look, look, my we don't look in the lens, okay?

Speaker We look. I don't know whether. Well, you just took a look over this direction, but don't look there. Yeah, right. I don't know whether I have so far. No, you don't want to make it back immediately.

Speaker The gamblers and the man who consist of Gene. Harry Goodman, Ziggy Amah, who his background was 500 Club. And Atlantic City. And Harry James, who always did a lot of gambling around the city of London. His circuit stayed. He's a young kid. He got together, sir, with the probably craps in the men's room, which is right across from my my boudoir. And they played for the next day and a half, which it took us to get there. I guess they take a little snooze here and there. And although many times we would put Vito on as being a little slow and ponderous, you know. He turned out to be the smartest guy in the lot, especially in gambling. He had everybody's check there practically. You know, and not only that, he didn't stop. Was it just these? With all this money, but he went down as soon as we got in Dallas, went down to the nearest Buick Buick Agency and bought the biggest Roadmaster that you could find. I don't know. Those days are probably three or four thousand dollars. Put it on board.

Speaker A freighter has shipped back to his house so nobody could get that money again.

Speaker And we went on to play for two weeks at the Dallas Exposition, met Harry James, mother and father. She had been a an aerialist in a smaller circus his father had conducted the music for. And it was kind of a kick to meet them. And then we stayed there for two, two weeks, and we never had any trouble with the blacks and whites mingling in the band and came off as a successful tour.

Speaker That been an issue before you went down? Had there been anxiety that you might run into trouble? You remember saying there was.

Speaker There was always an anxiety that everybody but we felt. We never gave it a thought.

Speaker My question will be there, so say say it again about Niranjan, about one incident.

Speaker There was no anxiety about it.

Speaker Well, one of my staff to ask, was there any talk about it? Was there sort of like, well, you know, we don't care. Obviously we don't care.

Speaker But there might be trouble when we get down there with the guys. We're there like in these plans. But how do we watch out for.

Speaker Well, there was talk from everybody else, but as you know, the newspapers. All were very anxious about what was going to happen.

Speaker It was just that because we were bringing him back. Yeah, because we.

Speaker Start start over again at this time, I guess we are the first white van to intermingle with blacks. We had two of them in the van. Many Teddy and Lionel. And there was a lot of talk and editorials and such. In New York before we ever left, we would make out when we got to the southern areas. And that was the first time we'd been down there. And everything seemed to go off great. I don't remember any incidents whatsoever. The only one I can remember is when we a little later we are on a tour up through Canada. And we went up to a place we had a beautiful club which was out on an island in the middle of, uh, I guess like Lake Huron, I guess it would be. And now was even further up. So I was just some incidental lake in Canada. Yeah, I know. We had to get there by speedboats and. During the evening when I play, while we were playing, so I started drinking during the evening while playing with it during the evening when we took an intermission. Teddy and I went over to the bar and we ordered a drink. And suddenly some redneck behind me said, you can't get rid of these people any place you ever even coming up here and ruining our place. With that, he took a poke at Teddy and Teddy ducked. And I jumped on this guy. I weighed about hundred and forty pounds soaking up poems. I weighed about 140 pounds soaking wet at the time. So this guy was he was pretty much ready for me. But by that time, everybody tangled and Benny came over and he heard the story and he said to the manager of the place, look, there's any more of this kind of treatment, especially this particularly type. I'm pulling the band out tonight. If we have to swim our way back, we'll get the speedboat. So there was no more trouble. I was only answer than I ever remember. But that was a few months after the Dallas.

Speaker He said his father was a tailor. Now we know.

Speaker Benny always insisted on having excellent tailors. I guess I came from his father, you know, his father been a tailor. But we never got. And band coats or jackets at the usual spots. Most of the bands did, you know, go to someplace like senseless on Fifth Avenue. And get a very overpriced piece of material. They were fine, but we paid for them. And if we didn't pay for them. I remember one time that we had a light like a green velvet type jacket, heart of Hades. And here, when we finish using them, I remember seeing about, you know, two or three years later I was doing a record date with and this was after I left the band. He said to me, hey, party remembers green and green jokes. Did you like him? I said, Sure. I don't know her.

Speaker You want to buy one? Is that you're in the clothing business? No. And he sold it to me, too.

Speaker Oh, 50 bucks or something. Which but a quarter of what it was worth. And I work for quite a time.

Speaker Let's go back to two and Zeke Zugzwang debate, you helped get get him a job.

Speaker When we left at Palomar. To go to Dallas.

Speaker Mona.

Speaker We don't need to read all the details of the other guys.

Speaker We just said we lost a trumpet player with or pick one of them.

Speaker OK. When we left the part, when we left the Palomar, we also left.

Speaker Here we are when we decide to stay out there for a while. And so we needed to pick somebody up. And I spoke to Benny about Zeke Tzachi. It was a very close friend of mine. And he and I had worked together prior to that. And a couple of dance halls on Broadway. Prior to either of us getting in any one of the big bands. And I enjoyed his personality and the way he played. He was an excellent first trumpet player. And then again, we worked in the Joe Haimes band, which incidentally, I met my wife. She was singing with the trio, so I recommended him to many in bass and goodwill. I'll get in touch with him for a loan advance and call him. And I think it was in Salt Lake City, which is probably directly after we had played the Dallas Exposition that he joined us and we were doing quite, quite well. We had a guy named the Sterling Bull is also playing the other trapper. Sterling was a wonderful guy and he played marvelous jazz. It was a great record for the St. Louis Blues, which is just right for him. And he played. He played about a two minute solo line, which was wonderful, but he didn't fit with the band any more than I at that time would have fit with a Dixieland band. He was not a powerful player. And Ziggy and I and Zeke and I were both pretty strong players, although we found out later we weren't. When Ziggy joined the band. So we had this trumpet section, which was pretty good. And we eventually wound up at the steel pier in Atlantic City. Not long after that.

Speaker And.

Speaker When we walked into this place the first night we played, we noticed there was a guy, a trumpet player sitting up on the top naturally. Where else? And then he jumped down to the next level and grab a trombone and play good. Then he jumped down to get a baritone sax. When I play that well, too, we were all watching this in amazement. Benny was what the hell was this guy? And he liked the way he played to. For a night, he fired Paul Sterling, who didn't want to be there anyway, and hired Ziggy, Ziggy joined the band and played with us for the next week, doubling from both manager. He never got off the stand. Alex Batho is the man they've been playing with for many years.

Speaker And describe what kind of guy he was a little bit. He said he came from working there and he was there as a game, as a gambler. But get a feeling of what?

Speaker Siggy had the greatest ego that I ever come across in my own personal life. He was amazing. He would brag about things and you say, what a braggart. Many prove it. You do whatever he said. For instance, when we had the softball team, which he instigated, Harry was a great baseball bat first. And he was playing right fielder centerfield. And if the ball would come out there, he would run like a girl with both hands up in the air. If you can see it, you know, as though, you know, a girl would do instead of loping over and put his hands up and catching the ball. But he never missed. I so him go behind a car that was parked over there and catch the ball with his hands up in the air. And the first time I told him, had I told him the first time he and I played ping pong was at the same Canadian club that I had talked about earlier. And he said, I never played this game before. Of course, that could have been a comment until you said, how do you hold a paddle? So I saw in the all the beginners style, you know, between the knuckle here. Went back and forth a little bit, volleying and finally said, okay, let's play. So between talking and Kivett saying one thing and another damn near beat me the first game we ever played in the first game he ever played the East claims. But it was this terrific ego that came out in this trumpet playing also. He had I said that, uh, Zeke and I had were pretty good, strong players. Well, we were is strong. We had a. Good volume, but sounded like a bus horn, like one of the buzzwords it puts a button to.

Speaker As I said it again, you said you said Zeke, Zeke and I had pretty big size and pretty start again with Zeke.

Speaker And I had pretty strong sounds pretty good strong players. But we never knew how loud you could get until Ziggy joined the band when he played a song like a bus horn in his yard. Every note. And when he would warm up before we go out, you say this guy can't play at all. You know why I'm a baby. Thud, thud with his tongue and all that sort of thing. Then you get on the bandstand and something about the rhythm or whatever. Whether that did it, but or whether this tremendous ego he'd play things had to be clear over his head from what you could hear in the studio. And it was hard for us to play with it because Chip is an awful strain on us. And Benny heard us talking about it one night. And he says, yeah, he does play pretty loud. Disney. You know, he says, hey, pops. I talk to him behind the stand, so we go behind the stand. Here's what we heard yesterday. She got hit by that loud, he says, at the Ritz Ballroom at the Ritz Hotel. And, you know, do that in here, do you? Harry said zigi very finkelman his name. Benny. I didn't ask for you. You asked me to come up with a band. I left the band. I was very happy with Alex Bar down to Atlantic City. I'd be very happy to go back with him. This is the way that I play. Take it or leave it. And many came out shaking his head. I don't think he ever had a strong word with Ziggy ever after that.

Speaker Then after the steel pier, you went into New York and went with the man to the Manhattan Room. Can you tell with that?

Speaker Yeah, well, we went to the Manhattan Room at the same time. We went to the Paramount for three weeks to lease a star and then became three weeks. It was a pretty tough schedule.

Speaker And. In there for maybe.

Speaker At the Hotel Pennsylvania Hotel we were in there for maybe.

Speaker I don't know too much.

Speaker And Zeke decided he wanted to leave that little talk about it. In reality, many had heard about Harry James. It was playing out in Chicago with.

Speaker Jenny Twitch name. There I no many olde Dixieland player. Lord.

Speaker Ben Pollak, thank you.

Speaker Uh, Bennion heard about this Harry James young trumpet player who is playing out in Chicago with Ben Pollak's and.

Speaker Baseball team.

Speaker Right at the instigation of Harry James, who was a great baseball fan and a good player. We had a baseball team and we did quite well.

Speaker Look this way, too. Oh, my.

Speaker Fletcher Creek to.

Speaker We had a baseball team, which was pretty darn good. We had a baseball team, which was very good. Harry James instigated the whole thing. It was always a great baseball fan coming from Texas in the area that he came from and out in centerfield. We had Ziggy to once again. So you say he's terrific. Ego that he had and and knowing that he can do everything that he thinks he can, which he proved time and time again. He was playing, as I said, centerfield, and he would go after a high fly ball like a woman might go with all the. All of.

Speaker Yes, sir.

Speaker No, don't. Don't say that, I said to say. So he was playing so he could be playing center field, sort of short cut for signal to see where Zeke was playing centerfield with.

Speaker Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.

Speaker Zeke was playing center field.

Speaker I think I'll quit now. He's what has been your case? We've been tracking your concentration. We'll let you get it back. Now, let's see.

Speaker I'm going to go like Ziggy was playing center field and he would play it like a woman might play it. Not an athletic woman either. He would take off with both hands outstretched like this to catch the ball rather than loping over and just catching it as a baseball player would. But he would never miss. So who cared what he looked like? One time I saw him catch the ball behind a parked car. He always did these phenomenal things are to never but always unnaturally. He played the trumpet unnaturally, you know, with both cheeks blown out, as is is. With both cheeks blown out as far as they could go. And, of course, Harry. The other one with just one second. So he had a pretty good bunch of cheek blowers. But he always got excellent results on whatever he tried to do.

Speaker Tell about the band. James joined the band. That was an expert. Harry came in.

Speaker Benny was looking for a trumpet player at the time we were at the Manhattan Room, second year in the Manhattan Room in New York, and he had heard about this. Matter of fact is his brother, Irving, told him about this wonderful young trumpet player working with it.

Speaker There I go again with Benny.

Speaker Working with this sense, Irving based brother Irving.

Speaker When his brother Irving told Benny about this wonderful trumpet player playing with Ben Pollack out in Chicago, he said he was just phenomenal. So Benny immediately got Vanston to call him and see if he'd like to join the band. Well, it worked out. And within the next week, Harry joined the band. He came in before Benny reported that night, the first night. And I guess Gene was running the band or whatever, and he decided to play something. I don't know what tune was with me. Our ears opened up and I hear Sudan. And this is something different. He was really phenomenal and with no great arrangement behind him.

Speaker And Benny came in and we started to play some of the tunes that we had and they were kind of polite early in the evening. We always played kind of a dinner service as much as we could get to that type of playing. And Benny got to one of the killer dealers a couple of sets later what they call the killer dealers. And Harry roped off with one chorus and the band, two choruses, three chords. And from then on, I was just, you know, listening time. I never heard anything like that in my life and nobody else had done it at that period of time. So we enjoyed Harry from then on for another two and a half years. I guess it was.

Speaker And that's I mean, that was the famous then, really the all star trumpet section with you and a little bit about what was like in the section.

Speaker You can't get around to the way you tune a little shaft. Well, we.

Speaker He just joined me with a friend from. Well, we have the Trump has jokes and moves and he gets.

Speaker We in the trumpet section gelled so well almost right from the beginning that we became pretty well known around by all the band leaders and all the side musicians is a very, very brilliant brass section.

Speaker We tuned up little sharp, which we were able to do because we have these slides that can give you a latitude of maybe a half answer.

Speaker So and so consequently, we would sound more brilliant, much as Tommy Dorsey did. Tommy always played a chord over Tommy Sharp and that way he would cut over the top of the band and me. I thought it was the most brilliant player in the world. We did the same thing in the trumpet section, which got to Benny after a while because he could only push his Berlins so far I would go any further. So one night he came to talk to us behind the stand and I think at that time we were in a while of his story and he says he looked at Harry first and said, Harry, is it simply being a pitch down? Is it. I can't get up there. You know, he had done. And Harry said nothing. He just looked at Ziggy. And it looked as though you too, huh? Ziggy looked at me and I didn't say anything unless I saw a banner. He was walking away from the back of the place. Lost this. We never did. Do not flatter ever again. But it had a lot to do with how brilliant the section sounded, I believe. And of course, we gelled so well that we. We never used music charts to read. Once within a week after receiving them and rehearsing them so that we got to the point where we would just get the new tunes out and put them on the stand. And then we had these cases, which were metal cases, and we'd sit on our seats and sit on them. So we'd be a little higher to get over the top of the trombones and stuff. And it was just her. That's why we played from then on. It was such a well gelled group.

Speaker It was it was a sort of a macho thing that you were these guys that sort of were standing up above the rest of the back as you played. So Cellebrite and you were sitting up higher. Was there a feel like we're in one section of the band? These are the guys. I mean, they're good, but like we closer to the guys in your section.

Speaker I don't know that we felt any particular way about any macho feeling that we might have of being better than the band.

Speaker They were all part of us. And we just we like to be over the heads of the men in front. Trumpet players always wanted that. That's why they built a stand. It's usually a couple of feet high, higher than the next two graduated step. But we played that way for. Two or three years, as I said. And then when Harry left. His brother Irving came in, which he often did save the day and substitute. He's a good player, excellent player, but he didn't know the charge like we did.

Speaker So we're said, again, I are sitting on our stands, as usual, on our cases as usual and rolling along. And we got to a certain spot. And Irving just came in just slightly early or something like that. And it was like somebody threw a monkey wrench into the into the machinery.

Speaker And we both drove for four hour cases, got out the music and read deliberately until, you know, a short time later.

Speaker Uh, uh, Irving was working right in with the rest of us.

Speaker Let's go back to the two.

Speaker We'll keep in going and sequence with our sort of story of your time with the band The Paramount. You mentioned the Manhattan Room. Tell us a bit about the first time you played the Paramount and coming into New York and realizing that you were this there was, you know, staying up all night, sleeping on the street, try to come in and get tickets and what it was like when you showed up at work and when the stage came up that.

Speaker The first year we went to the Paramount Theater, we were also working down down Thirty Fourth Street with the year. First time we played the Paramount Theater. We were astounded when we came to work to do the first show. We got there at seven thirty to rehearse a little bit to get the feel of the place. And there were thousands of kids out in front of the theater theater and all the way around the block. And we had never seen this kind of reactive reaction before. However, we went in rehearsed. And the first show, I believe, was going to go on at. Eight, 30, something of that sort. And. We have to remember that at that time, all the time, the Paramount Theatre was open. They had this elevated. Elevator type. Stan, did you get on it and then come up out of the pit and come up and that would be the first you you'd see the people and you'd be closer to the audience rather than being way back on the stage. So when he finally doing the first show, the elevator came up and we're playing Let's Dance. And he came up and I what was going on out in front? And he was these kids are just rampant. They're in the aisles already shouting and yelling and screaming. And we usually played. Well, I guess one o'clock jump or one of those things for us. So it was loud enough, certainly. And we just couldn't believe what was going on. And these kids kept it up. We played Stardust's on such slow tune, a second one, and they were down a little bit.

Speaker And the next thing that we would play, that would be a big stopper maybe coming towards us and finally running up on the stand and dancing, just complete abandon. And it was very surprising and kind of scary in the very beginning. And we did. I think the first day we were supposed to do five shows. I think we did six or seven. It was only the picture was just an hour long.

Speaker So you describe you'd start at seven thirty in the morning and you'd go through.

Speaker Well, the first the first day we started at seven thirty in the morning. Thereafter I think it was eight thirty and we do it till about 9:00 at night. You know, a full twelve hours, twelve and a half hours. And then you go over and then we go back down to the Pennsylvania Hotel, the Manhattan Room where Bob Crosby was holding forth, holding the fort down for us. And we play there until the. Two o'clock in the morning. And back the next day. Luckily, I lived at that time. That would be apartments. My wife and I. And, uh, that was only a block and a half away from her. Gene Krupa, which lived there also. And Himy Searcher took up residence with us for the three weeks that we were at the theater. It was full of. Full time, full time music. Time for us.

Speaker When I was this the same time when there was the famous battle of the bands of several barroom, would that have been like after hours?

Speaker I think there was a second year.

Speaker So you live. Mm. After their wedding. You go now for a while just to pick up the chronology again and follow through the progress of the band.

Speaker And we'll see if the. Stuff from the time you opened the apparently.

Speaker So, you know, skipping anything. Yeah. We played that the Manhattan Room for a 1937. For I think it was a six month period which brought us into the spring of 1938. That time we went out on the road and did a few more of the places down in Pennsylvania and Ohio and search and gradually got closer and closer to Chicago, which was the starting point for most of the trains that went out of the West Coast. And we have done an excellent train, the chief, which was the top train at that time, and we took off for California. And once we got there, we. Start start the second engagement at the Palomar Ballroom. And it was as though we had just stopped one set and came back after one set. And the same type of crowd was there. Me, me and yelling. And after a couple of weeks, we were to start the picture. Hollywood hotels for Warner Brothers. Again, that was a time where we had no period of rest for ourselves, barely time to eat a sandwich. We got out at the at the Warner Brothers studios to be made up at. I think six or seven o'clock in the morning, and then we'd have to one location out to an airport called the Alhambra Airport, which is maybe 25 miles outside of Hollywood. And yet again, we came the waiting game. We'd sit there waiting and waiting and waiting. And it got so boring. And a couple of us started to take flying lessons. And, you know, the guy giving flying lights at the store. So we. I took a couple of life lessons, which meant nothing. Still no call for us. And finally, one day we were waiting around. And Busby Berkeley, who was a director of the show. All right. Where is that band? So we gathered and there was instead of.

Speaker Thirteen men, there were 12 Fumie, instead of 13 men, there were twelve.

Speaker And Berkeley, said the other man. We have 13 people in this van and I'm sorry. Whereas the other men don't we have 13 people in this van. And so whereas he has somebody pointed up in the sky, is some guy doing a roll out there and it's Macek and it's taking a lesson. Keep him down here. We're responsible for every man in a band, you know. So they've finally got down in Baltimore and who cared at that point?

Speaker And we had quite a time with. Dick. OK, here we go with names again. Well, we had quite a time with Dick Powell. There is one spot in the very beginning, that picture where we all rolled up in small cars, I guess Volkswagens and one with a platform on it for Keane and his drums and the rest of us holding on and playing with one hand and comes screaming around the corner and to the fence. At which point we were to meet Dick. So he objects as well, just two strongest guys in the band. He said, I got to get over this fence, you know. And somehow the two skinniest guys, which was Eric, James and I, were called upon.

Speaker So we gave it a little bit too much steam. And when he got to us, we picked him up and threw him over and he wound up on the other side laying down on the ground to get some weaker guys. So we lost our position at that point.

Speaker And then we we did the picture a good portion, and we did maybe a week out on location. Then we came back to the studios and started to record. And the picture at the same time, rather than recording earlier and then doing the wherewithal know, sticking it up, doing the same thing. OK.

Speaker At this time, we went back to the set at the studios and the first thing we recorded was Sing, Sing, Sing, which was our big topper at that time. They added another trumpet to Ziggy, Harry and I. And after that, they were trying to garnish in to a big name had come from the Fred wearing band.

Speaker What was his name, honey?

Speaker You just come from the wearing band and his name is Johnny Skep Davis. He's a nice enough guy, but we didn't let him play. We recorded it on the set and he did.

Speaker The.

Speaker He did all the emotions and.

Speaker The tape came out fine.

Speaker And we left the studios that day and we were working at the Palomar that night. And Leonard Varnishing came in with the newest Benny. That they were recording Johnny QCAT, they was playing Harry James solo. You know, dubbing over. Not dumbing it down, but doing all the motions. Well, Benny immediately got on the phone in the middle of a certain he called out and I just I don't have that. We'll leave the picture. I see it. Unless we have the original. So he got his way. Thank God. And Harry so came out and was traditionally one of the greatest things in the picture. After we finish the picture, which I think was a pretty good picture, Hollywood Hotel had quite a few big names after that. I think we went back to the East Coast eventually, maybe a few one night in between recording here and there. You know, sometimes in Chicago, mostly in New York. And then in the middle of the engagement at the again at the Manhattan Room.

Speaker Should I say again? In the middle of it. We went back in and military engaging in.

Speaker We went back to the Palomar in the middle of the engagement. We found out from beneath that we were gonna do a concert at Carnegie Hall, which had never been heard of prior to this time. Well, of course, the. People with the lorgnette and such. We're all down on this kind of a thing, what are we doing to the hallowed halls of Carnegie Hall? So anyway, we rehearse a lot for Benny as rehearse in the hall itself so we could get used to the live acoustics that he had at that time. And I guess we rehearsed. Good. We rehearsed a good week or so. And within that man, we also had some some of the men from Duke Ellington's band. As an entity unto itself and also from bases. Ben Lester, Young and Moody Williams and Buck Clayton. And that added with our band, looked like it would be one heck of a program. Well, we are all pretty. Pretty stiff about everything that was going to happen, especially the night of the concert as we were about to go on stage. Harry was front. He turned around to me and he said. He says, I'm as nervous as a whore in church.

Speaker You know, what do we get enough before? Okay.

Speaker Yeah, yeah.

Speaker OK, describe. Describe it again, actually, if you can. So we get the whole scene of what it was like, you know, showing up, coming into dress, because, I mean, most people the idea of crying.

Speaker I went to a concert there last night and I was standing there looking from the stage, looking down and wanting, what's it like in the back seat? What's it feel like coming out and then stepping out on that stage?

Speaker So if you don't mind, describe what we're going to tell her. They're part again. But don't, don't, don't, don't cover it. I was just. Yeah. So we can use it. I mean, it's it's it's a well-known line, so it's not like it's gonna be a rude thing. The Harry James memory here. Yeah.

Speaker Well, I think you got to be well known almost because it was.

Speaker Carnegie Hall itself was a pretty impressive, you know, especially or even I should say, though, we were young kids and would not ordinarily have tradition so much in mind at that point of our lives as we would later on, for instance, walking in the back door, the stage door. You go up some steps and you come to the first big room on the right. And I would be for the conductor. It was a long shot. We looked in there a bit and then there were two or three others down the line. Right on that same level. And as you turn to the left or like upstairs.

Speaker Maybe 13, four up to the level of the actual stage. And then you go through for about 50 feet. Did you come to the entrance to the stage itself and then off to the right?

Speaker There was, as I recall, there was another bank of stairs that went up to other rooms up above this point. We're standing there waiting to go on after getting to this very aperture of the entrance. And here he was in front. Going first. And he turned to me and he said, Jeez. I'm as nervous as a whore in church. And a little bit of Southern humor there.

Speaker And so we did go on very straight and very straightforward. No drinking or anything of that sort. And we took our places. He started off pretty. Pretty easy with something like stopping the sale of oil, which was killer? Well, it was nice to. And we went on from that to start. So usually one of those quieter times and we played for about five or six numbers, gradually increasing the tempo and the feel until we finally got to. The first intermission that we would take at that time, I forgot who told me this. Somebody has been. How much of an intermission he had wanted to take, he said. How much is Toscanini take? And so I took an intermission and. It was the second half that really got grinding. That's when just Stacy played a chorus which turned into a five or six course. Of course, as Benny liked it so much, he had taken just solo out of. One o'clock, jump.

Speaker Sing, sing, sing. Oh, so I went. I don't know, maybe. Maybe you're right. I beg your pardon. It was the first solo. Just played was one of them.

Speaker Then the second one you heard about people start over again.

Speaker We were playing it so well. And then he realized, where's he been all this time? Then you realize he hadn't let it play. So just himself said that he was so taken aback, not expecting to play the solo. You had no time to get nervous or anything of that sort. He just popped into it. No, we weren't. And boy put out a solo that you couldn't be. And of course, Jane was backing him very well. And finally, we came to the end of that period. And the second set started off, I believe, with this group that I had mentioned. It started off with this group from the Duke Ellington band, Harry Carani and.

Speaker We give names straight because the names are out there. All right. You remember important names you don't remember are important. There's no one else.

Speaker You started off with the man from Duke Ellington, the group from Duke.

Speaker We started off with a Duke was sort of thing. What's important is what you remember. And the stuff that sticks in your mind is the funds stuff will we'll get the numbers or the personnel that tell the things that are like burning in your memory that, you know, you'll always remember that were there that made that moment happen for you.

Speaker I thought the two groups, which were integrated Bases Group and Duke Ellington Group were excellent. I thought they did a fine job all around. And like with Bobby Hackett, but some of the press releases were too good. But I don't blame that on the guys. I blame that on the press who didn't really understand what was going on. And Benny played great. The band was the small bands were great. And we finally came to the last set that we played and we finally wound up with the killer Diller of all times. And that was Sing, Sing, Sing. And we got off to a pretty good start. It was all right. It was going along pretty good. And then we got into the middle of it. And Gene suddenly rocked into songs, some kind of a beat, which I can't remember exactly. I'd have to listen to the record. We call it anyway, stomp the band right into a whole different feel than the last half of that thing, which probably ran six or eight minutes, was just wonderful. And much as I just like that because we played it three, four times a night and I ran about 12 minutes each time. But it gave me a whole new a whole new look to it.

Speaker You said last time I was here that you thought Gene was playing especially well that night, that he was had a sense of what the other guys were doing. Describe what that felt like.

Speaker Jeanne ordinarily played a little bit above the band, he played a little bit more for Jeanne. I have to say, than he did for the band. There are certain drummers that do play for the band and not so much for themselves. And it helps because they push you along and make you feel a hell of a lot better. Jeanne was noted for doing that. And I don't blame blaming the least because he was a heck of a showman. And when he do this, it would, you know, sell to the people. And that was his first first thought. And everything he played at this night at the Carnegie Hall concert, I believe he somehow came around to the feeling of integrating with the band and being a part of the band that would put the band on rather than having the band underneath him and he showing off as he was wont to do.

Speaker I thought he did an excellent job that night. Then you have a solo on the Blue Room, I think was the tune, remember what it felt like to know this is my turn. Here's Carnegie Hall and put yourself back.

Speaker Well, I had a solo on Blue Room, and it was just the release of the tune, which means I eat eight bars. I guess when you talk about the lead into it, lead out of it. Probably seven bars. So what are you gonna do with that? Maybe Harry James could have and I'm sure he could, but that was not my style of playing. So I didn't get much of a kick out of playing. And I stuck pretty close to the melody. Where you're gonna go with that tune. And it didn't register on me whatsoever.

Speaker And. And what was it like afterwards? Was it a let down the same route you go? Remember we did after the country was over?

Speaker I was going to say we went right back to the Manhattan room, but we couldn't because it was a Sunday night.

Speaker So. Oh, yes, we probably. I don't recall this time many times. Harry. Would come with me. And pick Helen up and a girlfriend that he had and we would out to do some of the spots, we may have done that that night. There was no reason why not. Because it's pretty hard to unwind the equipment quickly from that sort of thing.

Speaker Let's keep going with the chronology, I guess the main event that I recall after all, was that then Jean left shortly thereafter. Take it in your own.

Speaker Well, this time at the Manhattan Room, we only stayed rather than six months, we stayed either two and a half, three months. So we were through by. January something? No. She had to be after February because the Carnegie Hall concert was a that time, say, early March. And, uh, to my recollection. And we, again, did some one night as a theater engagements mostly. We finally wound up at the IRL Theater in Philadelphia. And Gene and Bernie had been sort of.

Speaker On the outs with one another, they had not become open enemies or anything of that sort, but they were giving little digs here and there and so forth. And finally, one show. At the Euro Theater. Many made some remark to Gene. Why don't you keep some time or something of that sort? And Jane said, hey, king of swing swing. Let's hear you swing the swing. And, you know, then you got to be open enmity.

Speaker And it took about two weeks or so. And he gave his notice and he left the band and picked up his own band and didn't do too well for a while, I think. But then he started to hit it pretty good. Many tried numerous drummers after that. All kinds. Dixieland drummers, sweet band drummers. And finally he settled on the one that I recall most was a buddy shot buddy. Such had been playing with a. No matter what he said, it was a pretty good drama. I thought he was a fine drummer. He fought the band a little bit better than most that we had heard and many seemed to like him. But then Benny grew tired of drummers in a hurry. He had an animosity towards drummers. I think right from the beginning of his whole career. And he started having words with a buddy buddy. He shook it off like a duck to water, you know. And he stuck. Stayed on for quite a time. And finally quit. And to my mind, the best drama we ever had. Nick for Toole joined the band. Nic was what I always want to hear. Man played with and for the band. And he certainly did. He's gone on to excellent things out of the West Coast since then.

Speaker We went from there where we go.

Speaker Let's back up to California. Yeah.

Speaker Nobody's seen any river around the same time, Charlie Christian and Jimmy Maxwell trying to ban any stories about the two of them.

Speaker Yeah, we finally wound up in California.

Speaker Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Speaker Much name of the restaurant in Beverly Hills, Coconut Grove.

Speaker We finally wound up in a very well-known restaurant in Beverly Hills and. It was quite a formal place, and we played quietly for half the night. And then the other half we get loose a little bit. A lot of a lot of movie people would come in and they seemed to accept the band very well. That time we, uh, we needed a trumpet player and this big, huge man, six foot five man one night.

Speaker And his name was Jimmy Maxwell.

Speaker Very nice, very well-spoken young man. And he sat down in the band and he moved in and played quite well. He was quite young. I'm sorry that.

Speaker We should just start again.

Speaker A young man's six foot four and his name was Jimmy Maxwell. He joined the band and he was a giant in more ways than one. He turned out to be an excellent player. He stayed with the band with Ziggy, and he and I were quite a time.

Speaker Uh, was it a hard thing to have Harry James gone, had this section that had this.

Speaker Oh, sure. Well, I had mentioned that earlier in the year. We sat on the books on him when he left.

Speaker Yeah. Let's go now. But now it's been a while now, but you got the question.

Speaker And then I recall that when we left the restaurant. To go to Atlantic City, we had a stopover in Wichita, Kansas, of all places. We took one of the first plane. Journeys of any band have taken time. And I remember when we got on that plane and it was a chartered plane, of course. When I'm playing in the morning, Lionel came in with his wife and he looked scared to death, frightened to death. And he was holding on to glared at all the whole trip to Wichita. He had stopped there. We played a gig at night. And then the next morning we took off for Atlantic City and we were a little afraid because it was a fairly large plane for those days, whether it would be able to come in on the runways at the head of the Atlantic City airport. It might be those short. So he came in with a wing and a prayer saying went, and we use the whole runway. When we stopped, we were maybe 30 or 40 feet from the water, which wasn't that deep. But nevertheless, he was it. And we played the. I don't know, a couple of weeks at the steel pier.

Speaker From there. We went back to.

Speaker New York. I think that was the beginning of our engagement at the Waldorf Astoria.

Speaker And it was kind of a different group of people that came in there other than the college kids that we had. And the other folks he came into here is at the Manhattan Room. And.

Speaker It was a great place to play in. No formal room. And she would be running. Yes.

Speaker And you want to take a break, maybe have a snack or drink too much more to go. We've got a little just some of the.

Speaker Quite clear that. We went back to New York and went into the Waldorf Astoria. First engagement we had there, I think was the first time they had that kind of event. At that time, they were en route back together. Somebody that saw it. And we had a pretty successful run. And early in the season, we were also playing at the World's Fair and out in Flushing Meadows.

Speaker Now, many.

Speaker Venison was driving Benny out in his new Cadillac was probably two or three days old. One day out of the fair, one afternoon and he was going along pretty good under the elevated and Jackson Heights and he turned to banish it.

Speaker How do you feel? Better. Okay. I was. Which was mayor. Well, he says Frisky was noticed last night and he really means it this time, he wants to get through. He and his wife Helen are expecting their second child and he wants to make them better, better home than he would be able to under these circumstances. And just about that time, I pulled up from the curb, tangled their fenders. And one thing, you know, this new Cadillac. When I got out of the car and traded all the licenses, one thing and finally, after about 10 minutes, he got back in the car. Many was sitting quietly, never moved from his seat.

Speaker And he went on for about three blocks. And Benny suddenly turned to me. What does he want to do that for? That was the manner in which I quit. And I remember he got on the stand later that same day. And I was sitting there and I felt his eyes boring into my back. And I looked back and I had Danny and he says, Traitor, traitor. So that was my swan song was banned, too. Three weeks later, I was out my back understaff at CBS, where I come from.

Speaker Then you joined the band reading. Oh.

Speaker From time to time, I would get a call from from time to time. I would get a call from Benny and he asked me to come in and do a record date with him. And I did two or three days at one time. I actually went to Atlantic City for a weekend with him. It was fun to be back with the old band. It wasn't the same old man. It was good man. You always said goes back. Good band. One time he had a group of three, three record dates and I said, how much money are you going to get from me? Why would you want? And I said, double, because that's what they were getting on the West Coast. All the first trumpet players were getting double before they go into the show to do the deed. So he said nothing further. And I finally went to the union to pick up the checks and they were exactly scale. So I called him about it and he said, OK, perhaps I'll get it in the mail. So for three dates. He sent me a check for fifteen dollars, five dollars a day. Then he was always pretty penurious with his money. Never did the part with money very easily. However, we were still in pretty good terms. On pretty good terms, and he. He asked me to do for the one night, as if not one night, as he was doing with a small band. Much later on.

Speaker The start of that Red Norvo.

Speaker No, I didn't happen to be red.

Speaker This group starts off with me.

Speaker He called me one day.

Speaker He called me one day and asked me to do some engagement with him in a small group that he had. What he was doing around the country and I went in there, it was just, like I said, six or eight men, all top guys greatest and.

Speaker My thoughts. Leave me. That's it. It's it's time it's been working.

Speaker It's not there something there. But whether it's worthwhile.

Speaker I know that it would probably. That's probably it. If you feel it's not.

Speaker No, it isn't meaningless.

Speaker Okay. Um. To tell a little bit about the ray.

Speaker What your interpretation is.

Speaker My impression of Benis Ray was never an impression that it was a ray as such. I wear glasses and I know what can happen with those things. If you look a certain way in the light hits it, it looks like he's staring at a person, you know, and he would look over his glasses many times. And it's very disconcerting to some of the guys I don't ever remember that bothered me. I don't mean that I'm a big wig about this sort of thing, but I never felt that one time. I did feel different. Ray, he actually spoke when it was shortly after Jeanne had left the band. Of course, Jeanne was a guy. I'm sure he always had gum in his mouth. So for some reason, I decided to some gum. I guess I did off and on. I was chewing away on understand stand one night to the theater.

Speaker I looked upstairs. Take them out of your mouth. I wouldn't take it. We've gotten out of the elevator going up. Did you hear that?

Speaker Yeah. What kind of audio attached to it really is going to be just an ordinary cassette?

Speaker Transcription, you guys. Oh, well, that's great. I will pay you for some. OK.

Speaker All right. Okay.

Speaker So we we're going up the elevator. Uh, shouldn't have to. The chewing gum shirt, that story.

Speaker You have to Gene left the band.

Speaker There is nobody left to chew gum like Genos did. And so I decided I choose gum. And we're playing a presentation one day. And when he looked up, I mean, I guess it was the rain that made me look at him and he said to come out of your mouth.

Speaker I said no.

Speaker Take the gum out of your mouth so that when we were near the end of the program, we got off the stand, we got on the elevator to Overson. He started reading me off about it and I said, oh, they're not going to take the gum out of my mouth. Real kids stuff, you know? And he said, well, that's my band.

Speaker It was the more kids stuff.

Speaker So once once again, I was fired. I was fired about or quit at least a half dozen times while I was with the band. But each time that I quit.

Speaker He would never remember when the two weeks were up. You didn't want or many times he'd say, well, you got. But, you know, nothing wrong with. You just need to stick around. And he gave me a give me maybe a fifteen dollar raise and enough of those. And I started to make money, almost like Harry James, who was, you know, a hell of a lot more worth and I and a band. And we used it quite often.

Speaker Were some of the things that you would have left that for you? You remember?

Speaker If not, don't worry. We can go on.

Speaker How about explain about killer dealers? How that expression got going or what what it referred to? What money to do arrangements, to the best of my recollection, I believe.

Speaker Jeanne came up with that to express expression killer to this killer Diller man. I guess maybe you got it from up in here. He probably did. Many of those things came from Harlem and. I never realized until I read a lot about it, we never used to call him that as such. But now it's become second nature. Just call. Well, that was a killer, Diller.

Speaker Let me explain what the public's idea was. These were numbers that were real fast than they were.

Speaker These numbers were used. My question will be there are no complete. Clearly, dealer really meant to the public that it was a fast number and had a lot of pyrotechnics and high trumpet songs and a lot of drums and such excitement. That's what you would be a killer, do, I suppose?

Speaker I've been rehearsing with with Ben.

Speaker Many would.

Speaker And he always rehearsed in a queer way, not to us. We got used to it. He would bring in a new chart and he'd try it out and run it down for the first time with the band. And then he'd say, let's destruction. The top top met. He'd go from top to bottom again. And about the third time around. So he just press.

Speaker No rhythm, no saxophones, nothing to keep our own time.

Speaker And, of course, that was good for you because you didn't get to depend on the rhythm section. You depended on your own time. And that just made the rhythm that much easier to play with. And in their case, it was easy for them to play with us. So we'd run it down two or three times and then he'd say, okay, saxophones alone. And they it down three or four times. And we start at the top again and we run it down to his cause. He run that down for about five or six times till he got what he wanted out of his giving. Not too much time for the other guys who might be also performing at the same time. And he put the whole thing together. And I think it was probably an excellent way of rehearsing. I know of no other band that did that, but I suppose there are some that we never heard about, but it worked out great.

Speaker Oh, Telstra, is that the good?

Speaker About the do we get the gun that we did get the gun story, did we?

Speaker Yes, we do. But there was a second one. Well, great. Which was funnier. Great. Maybe you can turn the latest film.

Speaker One of the periods of time when Irving Goodman came in to substitute for whoever it probably is before Henry James joined the band. And it was early in the evening and we're sitting there getting out the parts after playing one set and Benny called out the pass and he looked up from the stand and he sees Irving chewing gum, you know.

Speaker So he says, Eugene. Take the gum out of your mouth.

Speaker Second time, Eugene, take the gum out your mouth. And I said, Jim Irving, your big brother, is calling you. You should know. Kerry says if you don't know his own brother's name, I'm not going to help him out in a weird way to an end to honor him. There's a funny situation.

Speaker That's fine.

Speaker Paul just knocked us off the line.

Speaker How about Alan Ward and then. If you can tell us a little bit, last time was.

Speaker When we were doing the road with automobiles and my wife Helen and I were riding with Benny and Helen Ward, it was interesting because they seemed to be an item, you would say Benny never demonstrative, of course. So you never could tell where the arm around the shoulders or anything of that sort. But we knew, Alan. I know. I mean, I guess young lovers are so that Helen fought an awful lot about Benny. And from what I've read in the past, she adored the way he played. And that led to one thing and another. And they just had a good love for one another, I think. But that's only my estimation. And I've never asked Helen about it. But they did seem to get along very well together.

Speaker You said, I think it was put words in your mouth or whatever you want to express it the last time you said it was.

Speaker And you didn't surprise me in a way that she really had to thank them, that Benny was very hard for him to love anybody, express his love for anything, but declared that it was really just he was that's what.

Speaker You know, Bernie and Ellen had the same love, and that was his clarinet playing. She loved it and he loved it, too.

Speaker I think that any person, male or female, came along, was secondary to his playing. That was the most important thing in his life. And. But I do think he had kind of a little special feeling for Helen. Hopefully because she certainly seemed to. Certainly like him an awful lot.

Speaker And the story about SingSing Singh sort of evolving from being just like a crummy arrangement and seeing things saying started out as a almost a stock arrangement.

Speaker Although it was written by my Jimmy Mundy beginning, which. Put us into the the actual melody itself. I think the melody was also in some picture that Louis Prima sang sang in, uh. So after the. Melody was established. We went on to a second, Nanding, to go into some kind of a special course, which Benny didn't care for at all.

Speaker So he finally got down here and he took over and play some clarinet solos and then he got to be a trombone solo and this and that. Meantime, we started to play in the background. I started to play some some riffs, as we call them in those days, you know, a little ad lib things that were concerned with the trumpet section. And then the trombones came in with there's it's just like in the whole thing to be more acceptable. And the sax class came along with what they wanted. And I spoke to then Van Cleve, who was one of the big arrangers of the day, and he said, Rodge, eventually he came in one night and he said, this thing is absolutely wonderful. He said, Do you guys know what you're doing? This is the kind of thing I'm studying at Juilliard or have been studying for many years. And there's so many contrapuntal things going on. He says, I can't even tell you or make you understand what they are, but simply Gran.

Speaker It's just like a sort of a head arrangement that you guys know from the second ending on. From the second only on, it was a head arrangement.

Speaker But you know what I found in my notes that you said you heard anyone explain Billy Rose's. You describe that.

Speaker Describe that, describe also. Did you talk about hearing him on the Let's Dance program? What it was, but they would have known later. So would have been first. You heard Billy Roses. Yeah. It also tells the story. You can Segway or we can cut and start up again. OK.

Speaker Meeting health because that was around again. Maybe. Well, I'll go with that. All right. So we'll wait for that.

Speaker I think the first time I met Bernie was through everything that we got.

Speaker Yeah.

Speaker I think the first time I met Benny was through a friend of mine, Fred, then EPP's George's brother, and also there was another brother, George.

Speaker I said, okay, maybe.

Speaker Leave out the van to stay married to your friend of yours, because it will get.

Speaker Okay. I met I met Danny through a friend of mine who took me down to the to the Billy Rosa's musical where they were playing and. I was completely knocked out by the band. I thought it was great. He had a few studio musicians in there who were great players and. I got to meet Benny, and he didn't ask me to sit in or anything, but. Which was nice. I wasn't ready for it. And then a year or two after that, I was playing at the Park Central with. With Charlie Barnett and there was a young fellow that hung around the band at that time called Buddy Flug, who played the violin, played Exline Shoe Jovanotti student and so forth.

Speaker So we used to hang around backstage when the band wasn't, and we'd work up a couple of riffs between the two of us. A little duet. Wasn't that great trumpet in violin? Never came off too well, but it was well enough short. Charlie recommended that we get on to. Was a friend of mine by the name of Fred Van EPP's, went to his apartment and Benny came in after we'd been there a half hour and listened to us and shook hands and walked out. That was the end of that. So that was the first two times I met Benny, the third time I didn't meet him. But Charlie told me one day should Benny Goodman was in last night, and he was he liked to shoot. He was very impressed with the way you play jazz. And he thought you were coming. Bix Beiderbecke. Well, in those days, I don't know whether I had ever settled on any way of playing who were there, who I would like to emulate, which it turned out to be our money barrigan. But there was a heck of a complement from a guy who would work with a great player next by the bet.

Speaker And you said that you had a fun. I'm not confusing that. One time when Harry and Ziggy were in the band, you had a conversation with some of the old Chicago guys with with jazz and somebody else didn't. We like what you're doing? It was like the same thing.

Speaker It's like being on beats and that was their style.

Speaker Well, it was a nice twist before you answer if you don't play. OK, I understand.

Speaker There was a trio in that band. Not to be messed up with the trio, the band of.

Speaker But Freeman. But Freeman. Just Stacey.

Speaker And David was thought along the lines that they've been brought up with the Chicago group.

Speaker One night they complimented me very highly when they said, Chris, we know what you're doing. Meaning the jazz that I played, which there wasn't that much. And. We love the way you play. Forget about the other two guys. And that was the greatest compliment I ever got. And you heard this, too?

Speaker No, I didn't get that. Okay, well, for my.

Speaker The girl throwing up. Oh, yeah. Well, that's kind of him in a second with full force as last time he described the Paramount. You talked about how the women in the audience, the Paramount, would like to come right up to the stage and throw up their skirts and be waiting around backstage. Just so again, you can make a comparison to last. And you were like the Beatles of your day or after or the Elvis of your day.

Speaker You just tell a little bit of that in whatever way you want to.

Speaker Well, in those days are the paramount and the kids would not only rush out in the island. They're screaming and yelling and dancing and cavorting. They would many times come up on the stage.

Speaker A little bit further away, sir. Yes, sir.

Speaker Most boys.

Speaker Well, in the days of the Paramount, with the kids running up on stage and down the aisles and convoke avoiding around, there would be many eternity's young kids would come up on a stage and they do all the dance and so forth, and then throw the kids up in the air and the girls and the young girl are very lissome and so forth. And sometimes she were a little bit on the disrobe side, but it didn't seem to bother them in the least and not so much. I see her.

Speaker And then backstage with so going to you were married. But there were other guys in the band who were to be girls waiting around and they weren't married.

Speaker There weren't that many unmarried guys in the band.

Speaker Most of them were married and there were a lot of kids hanging around waiting for us to come out. And the young girls, too. But I don't think many of the guys made connections with. They were all pretty happy with their own home life.

Speaker But it, again, made it whatever you can Segway in to sort of make the connection that you were really was being like the Beatle or like it.

Speaker Sinatra later on. And the Beatles and the.

Speaker There are a lot of autograph seekers released. And, you know, they would grab it, you close. So I guess we were maybe the forerunners of Sinatra and the Beatles. They liked us a lot. Let's put it that way.

Speaker Was it like a burden? Was it a shock to sort of suddenly realize you were from having been just musicians doing your thing? Suddenly you were like, no.

Speaker In the beginning, it was a complimentary and flattering. We liked it. After a while, it wears down, of course. You know, that's where I learned to sign my name. Chris. Of course. That's a story in itself. Very interesting. I worked with a sexual empire of Italian ethnicity and when I was in my teens in New Jersey and he was first generation, so he spoke a little bit on the Italian side. He was also a. And my barber. And he was a fine guy, but he. Introduce me to many guys that I has to work with the next couple of years, such as Joe Mooney and people of that ilk, as instead of Grif, which guys had told me prior to that, he somehow got tangled up with Chris. So that was Chris for a while, and then when I started signing autographs. I was on Gordon Griffin one time and Chris Griffin the next time. Finally, it evolved into Chris. Which is what I'm pretty well known as nowadays.

Speaker You're saying Big Bird was easier to sign? That's true. Yeah.

Speaker The quicker did it, did it then I guess the tell tale a bit more about the what was like traveling on the trains.

Speaker I know what you mean. Well, Hoggins Automotive, you shared a birth. There was the one crap game story you told us. But any other things about being in the. Well, you want to one.

Speaker Maybe a little bit, so much sure, that was clear before. Exactly. You said in my boudoir and that shirt came out clearly where you were and what. Well.

Speaker When we travel by train, we had our own car, which we would keep for maybe a couple of weeks at a time when we'd stop at different places or Iowa such, and I finally wound up at the cost. And then finally wind up at the coast. My wife and I had a birth directly across from him from the men's room. And I went too much air conditioning in those day days. So consequently, the guys will leave the door open and it would get pretty loud around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. And one time I deign open my mouth about the bed. And I was shouted down immediately. So I kept that quiet. But we did enjoy the train. We we had first class treatment on it and we had wonderful food in the diner. And we go out on the back and the observation car and then said, you know what's strange? The tracks go by. And I say that again. And we'd go out on the observation car and watch the tracks go by. And then we'd hop back into the special car where they serve drinks. If it was that time of day, we would. I remember hearing the. The fight between Joe Lewis and. I'll have to think about this. No, no, it was a big guy. Gherardi. No, big, real big. He actually almost beat Lewis. That's not important.

Speaker I'm just going to remember was. Did you tell us a story about Saddam, things about the road trip making the other train connection and going from a car to a bus?

Speaker Yeah, catch the train. That's right. That was a great story. Yeah, there are.

Speaker Alas. All right. Thing.

Speaker We'll get home one time on the road with our own car. Paul Macur, we pulled in to. Davenport, Iowa, left the. Car on the siding along with their wives.

Speaker My case, my wife was with me and some of the kids just Stacey had a boy who was about 12 years old at that time and a couple of pets and put on the siding. And it was a hot day, I remember, and got off to train and got into a bus. A local bus, which then drove us to a place called All One Iowa, which was like 100 miles off to the south west. And from there, after playing the night, which was terribly hot and we were so warm that Benny, who was always very formal, they said, take off your shirt. So he's sitting there playing in our underwear, you know, bottoms. We we had but the tops just are on our undershirts. And just to give you an idea of how hot it was.

Speaker And when he finished the night, we were to hop in the bus as quickly as possible and the bus would take off north west of the opposite direction, we'd been going and pick up our train in a little way station. I don't know the name of to this day. Had a lot of fog along the way. We lost one guy, Murray McChicken was shooting back in the diner trying to order some clams Rockefeller out in the middle of Iowa. And we got back and picked him up. And then we heard the bus went off the road and we finally got back on. And by now we're running late and we got in, oh, about five minutes before our train was to come in and pick us up at this very strange little place. Well, this was the first section of the chief.

Speaker Just started down to get a feel for them. Those are the same as the Supercheap. Yeah. So send them for. This is stuff, and this was the first section.

Speaker Yeah, we we were to be picked up at this little point by the first section of the super chief, which is the train of the day in those days. So we've got all our instruments out and a little accident on the way in such a hurry that Harry James took out two new trumpets that he had put in boots, riding boots because he always likes to ride. And he ran out the door and then he went back into gear as his other material and. The bus driver decided to back up to get closer to deciding. What she did when he ran over both of these trumpet's. Harry came on take took one look nice. He took them boots and all and threw them over into a vacant lot on the side. Which I often wonder. Any old lady to that section ever came across those two items. So what the heck is this? What's this doing in this place?

Speaker Well, now we're all set to stand there and wait for the train to come through with our wives and kids and so forth on it. And along came steaming up from southeastern Jamie. Clozapine picked up our bags and went. Right. Bias without even a toot. Put the bags down again and Leonard Advantage in the road manager went back into the train station and wired back before I said, have the second section and pick us up. We got left behind. So they finally did come in about a half hour later. We all scrambled aboard this thing. And she was the guys had had a few drinks, probably me too. And we're all mad because of the way things were going. And we walked through this train into a really nice tourist section where there obviously you can see your old folks lying around with their grandchildren next door. And then we walk this noisy bunch of. Hateful drugs. Everybody woke up and thought they were probably unhealth. So we went on into the back and make a long story short, we stopped deciding where they were waiting with the supercheap. First we got board and went on to the West Coast.

Chris Griffin
Interview Date:
1993-01-25
Runtime:
1:51:01
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-0000000g71, cpb-aacip-504-4q7qn5zs4v, cpb-aacip-504-rv0cv4cj1h, cpb-aacip-504-2j6833nf2t
MLA CITATIONS:
"Chris Griffin, Benny Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 25 Jan. 1993, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/415
APA CITATIONS:
(1993, January 25). Chris Griffin, Benny Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/415
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Chris Griffin, Benny Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). January 25, 1993. Accessed April 11, 2021 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/415