Friday, April 8, 2011

A Jazz Tale

My earlier post mentioning Jimmy Knepper reminded me of a gig I did in the early '80s, a Dixieland band in Pershing Square Park in Los Angeles, before it was renovated and was less "sophisticated" than it is now. We were playing for the MJB Coffee company, who was giving away free coffee to anyone who wandered by. As I remember, we started at 5 AM, and they kept adding overtime; I guess their coffee was popular that day, and it turned into a 7-hour gig.

At one point, while we were playing "Sweet Georgia Brown," an obviously homeless guy dressed in rags and not smelling too good, wandered up and was listening to the band. I played a couple of solo choruses on tuba, and after we finished, the homeless man approached me and said, "You plays the tuba just like Jimmy Knepper plays the trombone." He pronounced it, "Kneppa." I must have looked shocked, because he asked, "Don't you know who Jimmy Knepper is?" I responded, "Sure, he's a great trombone player. Thanks for the compliment." He said, "I rememba Kneppa and Mingus having a big fight on the bandstand one night." (Charles Mingus had famously punched out Jimmy on a gig once.) Then he turned and wandered off through the park and into oblivion, leaving me wondering who he was and if he had been a noted musician sometime in his past, and how he knew about the Knepper/Mingus incident. Not to mention how he knew enough about jazz to connect my style with that of Jimmy Knepper...

1 comment:

alohab said...

cool story! too bad he didn't stick around to talk!