[Dixielandjazz] Sitting In - Redux

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Dec 7 22:55:36 PST 2003

Here is a story about "sitting in" from Jamey Aebersold's file. Jamey,
who teaches "Jazz" here in the USA swears trombonist John Welsh told him
this story years ago. John Welsh later recorded an album with Steve Lacy
on Sop Sax in 1954 called "Progressive Dixieland". (Interesting Album)

Sitting In

"I was 18 years old and naive," John Welch said. "I was in New York City
for lessons with Lennie Tristano. My first weekend in New York I went
with my horn (trombone) to a club called the Open Door. There was a big
sign in the window saying Jam Session - Sunday afternoon. A group was
playing blues in F. So, I thought, well, great: I enjoyed playing blues
in F. I put my case on the table, took my trombone out and just walked
right up and started to sit in with them. My playing at that point was
influenced by George Brunies, a Dixieland trombonist, so I started
playing tailgate trombone with this group. They immediately brought
blues to F to a screeching halt, and the piano player said, 'Cherokee in
E', and took it at a tempo you wouldn't believe. I thought, well that's
cool. I don't know Cherokee, and I don't play very well in that key, and
I sure can't play that fast on the trombone, so I'll sit this one out.
So, I went back to the table and laid the horn in the case, and sat
there. Everyone was looking at me as though cancer had arrived. Finally
a guy in the audience came over and started unscrewing my horn, taking
it apart and putting it away in the case. He (George Wallington b. 1924
in Sicily real name Giacinto Figlia died in the mid 1990s an early bop
pianist) just looked down at me and said, 'Kid, you're obnoxious."

The Band that day at the Open Door was Bud Powell, Max Roach, Charles
Mingus, Miles Davis and none other than Charlie Parker himself! I
realized I had done something really terrible!

"They broke the set and Bird, (Parker), came over, right straight over
to my table. He said, 'Look kid, what you were doing didn't really fit
in with this group, but you were doing it well. You really were laying
it down, and that's great! You just keep going.' Bird was so
compassionate in that moment with me, when everyone else was ready to
kill me. This struck me deeply."

Steve Barbone

PS. The guy who unscrewed Welch's trombone was George Wallington born
1924 in Sicily real name Giacinto Figlia died in the mid 1990s. An early
bop pianist and a good one. Gigged quite a bit in NYC from the 1940s
till 1960. Left the music business about the same time I did in the
early 1960s. He returned to it in the 1980s and made a few more albums
before his death.

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