[Dixielandjazz] Audience Etiquette

Rob McCallum rakmccallum at hotmail.com
Tue Dec 21 08:21:07 PST 2004

Steve, that's a great story!  Was Mingus wearing his pistol around his neck 
at that time?

The first time I went to the Vanguard I had to sit in one of the side booths 
toward the back (where the sightlines are not good) because all of the 
middle tables were filled with a busload of Japanese tourists.   When the 
band started there was still a lot of chatter and a lady got up and stood in 
the middle of the room and shhhshed everyone, pointed to the stage and 
yelled, "Listen to the music!"  What a great night, and I could hear every 

I also saw the Bad Plus there about two years ago.  That's an unusual group 
to play at the Vanguard.  Though they're a trio (piano, bass and drums), 
they cover grunge rock tunes and employ a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor.  The 
crowd played along with the humor and when the set was over everyone got to 
their feet and flicked our lighters as if it were a rock concert.  After the 
second encore and ovation, Lorraine Gordon stood up and said, "Alright, 
that's enough now," to which we all obeyed : )

All the best,
Rob McCallum

>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 
>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 
>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 
>Table which Mingus saved. Mingus comes over says hello and goes backstage 
>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 
>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 
>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 
>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 
>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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