[Dixielandjazz] Gonsalves sleeping on the bandstand.
Stephen G Barbone
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun May 16 08:57:05 PDT 2010
On May 15, 2010, at 5:41 PM, Marek Boym wrote:
>> A Train was surely a tour de force for Strayhorn. To see Billy
>> playing it
>> with Duke's Orchestra, go to:
>> At the end listen to Duke's comments about him. Apparently Ellington
>> thought Strayhorn composed some significant tunes on his own.
>> <grin> Note
>> also during the performance, at about the 1 minute and 35 second
>> mark, Paul
>> Gonsalves nodding out. <grin>. Not the first time he was caught on
>> doing it.
> A British trombonist who subbed with the Ellington band, and later
> lead a youth band in the town of Holon (south of Tel-Aviv), used to
> tell the audience taht Gonsalves, often very drunk, used to doze off
> during performances. The way that trombonist had it, that would
> prompt the Duke to call upon Gonsalves to solo.
I think that the British trombonist was being unfair, as well as
stretching the truth with that story. It needs to be corrected.
While Gonsalves suffered at various times from both drug and alcohol
addiction, those vices usually prompted him to take a leave of absence
from Duke's band. They were NOT the reason for Gonsalves nodding off
during Ellington's band performances..
The truth is that Paul Gonsalves suffered from Narcolepsy, a disease
that causes those who have it to fall asleep at virtually any time. So
he would frequently fall asleep during performances. Contrary to the
Briton's theory that Duke would call upon Gonsalves to solo more often
when he was asleep, what usually happened is that the tenor man next
to him covered the solo. See:
BTW: Dig Jimmy Hamilton's clarinet. He is the man who takes Paul's
solo, while remaining seated, when the tenor solo spot comes up.
Fact is that no band leader, especially Ellington, would want a solo
from a musician high on drugs or alcohol. Neither substance adds to
one's ability to play coherently and usually, a performance is
degraded badly by them, as opposed to performing sober.
Also, Danish jazz drummer Drummer Alex Riel has a clip on YouTube of
Duke Ellington presenting him with the 1965 "Danish Jazz Musician Of
The Year" award. He says:
"After they presented me the cheque something happens, which isn't
shown very clearly on the video. But Ellington says to me "let's have
some fun!" The tenor player Paul Gonsalves was sound asleep behind us
(he had this disease that made him fall asleep all the time, even on
the band stand). Duke wanted to play a little joke on him, so he turns
me around to introduce me to Gonsalves. What Duke DIDN'T know was that
Gonsalves and I knew each other very well from playing together at the
Jazzhus Montmartre, where I was the house drummer. In fact he'd just
been jamming there 3 nights in a row.
So, Duke wakes up Gonsalves and expects him to get all confused by
seeing a stranger standing there in front of him. But instead
Gonsalves just looks up at me as the most natural thing in the world
and says "Oh, hi Alex, how are you?" That's what everybody is laughing
about. Even Johnny Hodges!'"
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