[Dixielandjazz] Audience Etiquette

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 20 18:25:49 PST 2004

on 12/20/04 7:00 PM, Arnold Day at arnieday at optonline.net wrote:

I agree with Steve that no noisy party can actually "drown out" Davern's
clarinet (except when he is playing exceptionally softly....for artistic
reasons). But if they are seated near you or (Heaven forbid) between you and
the players, they can easily ruin a $150 "treat" for you and your wife (or
mistress). There is no easy answer, othet than the resaturant owner setting
up two separate areas/rooms.


Which reminds me of a night I spent at the Village Vanguard in NYC, in the
1950s. I had persuaded a beautiful College classmate to come and see Charles
Mingus at the Vanguard. Me, the jazz muso by night/college student by day.
Her a wealthy socialite's daughter, and somewhat naive beauty. Mingus, a pal
of mine. This our first date and I hope the beginning of a beautiful

We get there and are waiting in line outside behind two guys sharing a
joint.  One of the hop heads looks at her and says to me "you ain't shit",
so I punch him and doorman rescues date and me. (doorman a pal too). Date
just a little worried, like where have I brought her? We go in and get front
Table which Mingus saved. Mingus comes over says hello and goes backstage to
warm up. Date a little nervous about this hulking black man being a pal of

Professor Irwin Corey is comedy act appearing before Mingus. He has a
hysterical, double entendre act and half the people in the joint went there
to see him. They are a noisy bunch. Corey's act lasts 40 minutes.

Mingus comes out with sextet. Starts to play. Crowd very noisy. Mingus stops
band and politely asks crowd to be quiet and listen to the band who are
giving their art to them. Crowd quiet for 60 seconds as band starts to play
and then gets noisy again.

Mingus stops band, and he is standing about a foot from our table and he is
pissed. He shouts into the Microphone. I told you Mother F---ers to be quiet
nicely and you disregard it. We are trying to create art here and you
Ass----s aren't willing to listen. So you can go F--- yourselves.

He drizzled a little spittle on us as he was shouting, and my prim date
about had a heart attack as Mingus jumped off the stage, pulled the band off
the stage and shouted. "We'll come back when you ass----s are ready to

I was cracking up, she was horrified at the whole scene (not being hip to
the world of jazz at all) and Mingus was really mad.

They came back about 10 minutes later and played their set. Meanwhile he
apologized to my date. We left after that set.

Mingus asked me about her a few weeks later. "How is that cute little girl
you brought to the Vanguard?" he said. I replied that she wouldn't date me
again because she thought all jazz musos must be insane.

In 1965 I found out that she married a Doctor. Ah well, better to have loved
and lost than never loved at all. I hope their children grew up to be jazz

Steve  Barbone

PS. Around that same time I took a hip chick to Birdland to hear Bud Powell
and she shushed Audrey Hepburn who was at the next table. Ms. Hepburn did
quiet down and also apologized for talking during Powell's peformance. 

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