Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Day (Some events juxtaposed slightly,but 99% true!)

Thursday,February 15th,9:00 A.M.,Newport Beach,California
I had agreed to do an interview with the BBC for a three-part radio special on Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw,and had to do a link-up somewhere in my travels.This was the best date for all of us,so the BBC tried to secure a studio nearby...My "engineer" picked me up at my hotel,and took me to a local college radio station.I knew this one would be different when I stepped into the 'studio' ,which looked more like a quonset hut with cables dropped randomly about. I was greeted by a David Crosby lookalike (complete with walrus mustache!),who was hunched over a computer;without looking up,he flashed me the "peace" sign and drawled out a "What's happenin',dude?", a phrase I hadn't heard since I tossed out my old Cheech & Chong records....
Over the radio-station monitor came the voice of a lady who was doing a weekly radio show called "What Would Arwen Do?-An Elvish Perspective On Life".She was later introduced to me (with no trace of irony,I must add) as "our resident elf."As I shook her hand and listened to her blessing me for my spiritual gifts to the world,I gazed earnestly into her eyes and thanked her also,for the good work that all the elves do, while praying silently that she wouldn't hunt me down later and kill me.....I then moved into the cubicle where I would spend the next hour reading the newspaper,while my "engineer" tried to figure out how to do a trans-Atlantic link-up.We finally got things rolling.Then,after answering long and detailed questions about Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw for the better part of 90 minutes,including playing and discussing examples of their characteristic phrases,musical differences,personalities,etc., with Sparky sitting a foot away from me and staring at me intently,he actually turned to me when it was over and said,"So,was this mostly a show about Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman?"Remembering that I was in Southern California,I looked at him and said,"Why,yes,it was...."
11:45 A.M.
I'm back at the hotel for the Newport Beach Jazz Party,an event put on by Joe Rothman and John McClure,two friends who have made a big success of this annual festival,and another one Labor Day weekend-if you haven't been to these,look them up-they're great,fun,well-run weekends of jazz! But I digress....
I'm met in the lobby by a decidedly unusual greeting:"Hey,fellow Polack!Are you gonna play us a polka?"I look over-it's one of the 'regulars',dressed like he went shopping at Emmett Kelly's garage sale.This jazz diplomat will continue to try and ingratiate himself with me throughout the weekend by uttering more and more of these remarks, such as -"Hey,Polski!""There's my Polack!""How come I didn't hear any polkas last night!",etc. I begin to wonder if this might be a new form of address in Southern California,where people just yell out ethnic slurs to each other...I later tried this out on my waiter in the restaurant,with a friendly cry of "Hey,wetback-could you bring me some more coffee?"The waiter,God bless him, was so taken by my greeting that he accidentally spat into the middle of my Clams Casino,threw the dish down onto the table,and quickly hurried off,shaking his head in obvious merriment....
2:00 P.M.
I have a poolside set to play with two great trumpet players,Terell Stafford and Gilbert Castellanos,and Scott Whitfield,a real trombone virtuoso-lots of fun,and great to hear Terell and Gilbert play off one another-very inspiring! I later have another set by the pool as a guest with a pianist whose unorthodox technique is somewhat off-set by his monumental ego...I know,because I've been down this road before,that either he doesn't know my name,and will introduce me like this-"Let's hear it for Mr. Saxman!"or "Now we'd like to bring on my main man!";or,even better,he will kind of remember what my name sort of sounds like,and will bring me on with a "Now,we'd like to bring up Mr. Ben Peroski to the stage",or any of thousands of variations therein.A lot's riding on his introduction,as I have a bet with two guys in the band about this....soon, it's time-he looks around,catches my eye,gazes up in a heavenly direction for a clue,any clue,looks out over the audience,and says,"Now,I'd like to ask our bassman to introduce our special guest",and hands the microphone over to him-Brilliant! To be continued in my next installment.......See you then-Ken


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