NOW, A JAZZ MOMENT...
Originally released 1966, 2006 Blue Note Records
IT WAS 1960 WHEN NEA JAZZ MASTER BOBBY HUTCHERSON FIRST TRAVELED FROM CALIFORNIA TO NEW YORK CITY TO APPEAR AT THE LEGENDARY CLUB, BIRDLAND. HE REMEMBERS MEETING THE MASTER OF CEREMONIES THERE -- THE NOTORIOUSLY ORNERY AND DIMINUTIVE PEE WEE MARQUETTE.
Bobby Hutcherson: Pee Wee walked up and he had a big, long cigar in his mouth and he says, "Who you?" And I said, "Well, I'm Bobby Hutcherson and I'm playing with Al Grey and Billy Mitchell." And so he blew a big puff of smoke in my face and he says, "Take and pack your instrument up and get on outa here. We don't need you." He says, "We got Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson, we don't need you." So I was, even though I was young, I was bigger than him, you know? So I said, "You ain't gonna throw me outa here, I'm bjgger than him." So I just kept right on setting my instrument up. And Pee Wee was known, if he didn't like you, he was known to mess up your name. And a lotta people used to come into the club just to hear how he would just tear your name apart when he would introduce you if he didn't like you. And so for the first week, he made the announcement of the group. He said, "Ladies and gentlemen, from the jazz corner of the world, Birdland, 52nd street and Broadway, the Al Grey/Billy Mitchell Sextet with Al Grey, Billy Mitchell," and when he got to my name, "and Bubba Hutchkins on vibes!" And I said, "Oh Lord!" And so on paying night, there was this hotel across the street called the Alvin Hotel. And I was in Al Grey's room getting paid. And there was a knock at the door and Al told me to answer to the door. And I opened the door and it was Pee Wee Marquette and he had this big cigar in his mouth and he blew a bunch of smoke in my face. And he says, "Hey Poppa, you got something for me?" And I knew he was waitin for some money so I said, "Are you kidding? Not the way you've been introducin my name!" Al Grey yells, "Give him 5 dollars!" Well in 1960, 5 dollars was a lot of money! And so I said, "I ain't givin him 5 dollars!" He says, "Give him 5 dollars. You'll see the difference." So I hand him 5 dollars. And Pee Wee says, "Thank you, Poppa." And slams the door and walk off. Well, because I gave him the 5 dollars, the next week Pee Wee introduces the group, "From Birdland, 52nd Street and Broadway, Al Grey, Billy Mitchell, and Bobby Hutcherson on vibes!" And Al Grey turned to me and says, "See what 5 dollars does? Now everybody knows what your name is!"
MUSIC: up and fades
THIS JAZZ MOMENT WITH VIBRAPHONIST BOBBY HUTCHERSON WAS CREATED BY THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS. I'M DELFEAYO MARSALIS.