All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Just For Fun

156

Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: Jazz Aphorisms

Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: Jazz Aphorisms
Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
For artists who express themselves in a non-verbal medium, jazz instrumentalists have come up with a bundle of choice aphorisms.

Here are four attributed to, or about, tenor saxophonists, which were coined too late for inclusion in Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff's Hear Me Talkin' to Ya (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1955).

If you feel like sharing some favorites of your own, you can post in the comment box below.

Frank Foster

One afternoon in the early 1970s, Frank Foster was directing an outreach performance in a Harlem street with the Jazzmobile program. All welcome. Foster called for a blues in B flat. An aspiring tenor player, with more enthusiasm than musicality, launched into a wild "energy" solo in no discernible key, let alone B flat, swamping everyone else onstage.

Foster stopped playing. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Just playing what I feel."

"Well, feel something in B flat, motherfucker," said Foster.

Coleman Hawkins

At another jam session, sometime in the 1960s, another young saxophonist found himself onstage with Coleman Hawkins. He acquitted himself pretty well.

Later, a friend asked how it had felt.

"It was OK, but Hawkins scared the shit out of me."

"Coleman Hawkins is meant to scare the shit out of you," said the friend.

Ronnie Scott

One evening in London around 1950, pioneering British bopper Ronnie Scott was earning a crust in a strict tempo dance band, possibly the one led by Bert Ambrose. In the middle of some typically mickey mouse arrangement, Scott launched into fierce bop solo.

"What's he doing?" asked Ambrose (if it was he) of the alto player sitting next to Scott.

"Shhh!" came the reply. "Ronnie's got the message."

"Give him a message from me," said Ambrose: "he's fired."

John Coltrane

Sometime around 1957, trumpeter Miles Davis (pictured above) became exasperated by the multi-chorus solos which were becoming the norm for his saxophonist, John Coltrane. Davis thought a less is more approach would be preferable, and asked Coltrane why he couldn't exercise some restraint.

"Once I've got going," said Coltrane, "I don't know how to stop."

"Try taking the horn out of your mouth," said Davis.

Photo Credit

Courtesy Columbia Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Hey, George Frazier--I’m 10 Years Old Over Here Just For Fun
Hey, George Frazier--I’m 10 Years Old Over Here
by Brian Dunn
Published: September 27, 2015
Read Top Five Funniest People in Jazz Just For Fun
Top Five Funniest People in Jazz
by Michael Ricci
Published: November 27, 2014
Read Hot Rod Jazz God, Part 2: An Open Letter to Rod Stewart Just For Fun
Hot Rod Jazz God, Part 2: An Open Letter to Rod Stewart
by Jason West
Published: May 28, 2013
Read Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: Jazz Aphorisms Just For Fun
Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: Jazz Aphorisms
by Chris May
Published: December 23, 2011
Read Rod Stewart: Hot Rod, Jazz God Just For Fun
Rod Stewart: Hot Rod, Jazz God
by Jason West
Published: January 29, 2005
Read BugHouse: Pages 1-5 Just For Fun
BugHouse: Pages 1-5
by AAJ Staff
Published: January 20, 2005
Read "Louis Hayes: Still Moving Straight Ahead" Catching Up With Louis Hayes: Still Moving Straight Ahead
by Joan Gannij
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Dustbowl Revival at Sweetwater Union High School" SoCal Jazz Dustbowl Revival at Sweetwater Union High School
by Jim Worsley
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Punkt Festival 2017" Live Reviews Punkt Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Matt Hooke's Best Releases of 2017" Best of / Year End Matt Hooke's Best Releases of 2017
by Matt Hooke
Published: January 7, 2018