Captain Howdy

Abusive and violent jazz musicians

43 posts in this topic

After watching this clip in another thread and hearing the anecdote about Mingus punching Dolphy in the head, I started wondering why Dolphy would put up with such abuse. Then after recalling the incident in Miles' autobiography (IIRC) about punching Coltrane in the stomach, I started wondering about how common such violence was among jazz musicians. The only similar case I can recall hearing of in a rock band is Ginger Baker/Jack Bruce, and Ginger was of course a jazz drummer. Was there some sort of 'hazing' dynamic in the jazz world?

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Don´t forget the incident Mingus with Jimmy Knepper !

But also Miles was told to be violent to other musicians. He punched John Coltrane and Monk was there and told Trane "as much saxophone you play, you don´t need this, why not join my band ?"

There was also a rumour that Miles hit Monk during the famous "Bag´s Groove" session in 1954, but Monk, who was much stronger than Miles later said "what me? He´d better not!"

And a lesser known incident is about Fats Navarro when he tried to smash Bud Powell´s hands with his trumpet, but missed his hands.

Miles tells in his autobiography, that around 1981 while rehearsing he poured a bottle of beer over his guitarist´s head (Barry Finnerty) who had all his electronic equipment around him so this was quite dangerous.

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Jazz musician as murderer?

ladyhaigbook.jpg

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10 minutes ago, BillF said:

Jazz musician as murderer?

 

Frank Rosolino  :(

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Mingus hit Jimmy Knepper in the face. He lost teeth because of that and could’nt play for a considerable time. Knepper sued Mingus who said in his defence that it was part of his act. I don’t remember what the outcome of the case was. It is in Brian Priestley’s Mingus biography. 

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20 minutes ago, BillF said:

Jazz musician as murderer?

ladyhaigbook.jpg

Jazz musician as murder victim. I'll start the list:

Lee Morgan

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Juan Tizol pulled a knife on Mingus while they were both with Ellington. 

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Wasn't the break between Woody Shaw and Junior Cook in the late 70's "physical" .... ?

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The story about the Miles Davis "Bags' Groove" session has circulated for years. It is well past the time to bury it. According to witnesses, no-one hit anyone.

Don Byas once pulled a knife on Bird (but didn't cut him). Diz used to pull a knife, and he punched Slim Gaillard out at Billy Berg's in late 1945, after accusing him of Tomming.

 

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Jackie Mac pulled a knife on Mingus and even nicked him, per Priestly.

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It's been my experience that life itself in its natural state is often enough violent and abusive, without any human intervention.

Expecting humans to be better than nature is, uh...perhaps hoping for too much? :g

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, BillF said:

Jazz musician as murder victim. I'll start the list:

Lee Morgan

I don't think it's that simple.  Helen Moore seems to have not spent any post-trial jail time.  I suspect Morgan was incredibly abusive.   Eddie Jefferson was a drive-by shooting victim for having fired a dancer.  Jaki Byard was murdered by a nephew or something like that.  Don Myrick (EWF) was accidentally shot by police.  King Curtis was killed by junkies he confronted outside his house. Philip Wilson (AEC) was murdered in his apartment.

56 minutes ago, JSngry said:

It's been my experience that life itself in its natural state is often enough violent and abusive, without any human intervention.

Expecting humans to be better than nature is, uh...perhaps hoping for too much? :g

Depends on your views of humanity and the divine.  I've learned to expect both more and less from humans than from nature.

Edited by felser

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Although I applaud the notion of humans to think they can perfect nature, I think it's telling that nature always winds out eventually, always. We will not destroy Earth. We might well destroy our ability to inhabit it, but it will still be here after we're not, unless/until another natural force destroys it. Asteroid, too many Monster Magnets in a landfill, that kind of thing.

That stirs a suspicion in me that maybe "perfection" is in the eye of the beholder, and the fact that there is a beholder with an eye in the first place is an outcome of a perception that is one step removed from what it thinks it's trying to perfect.

Hey, we took shame in our nakedness. What could possibly go wrong from there? :g

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Richard Williams, the trumpeter, allegedly attacked saxophonist Frank Smith at Slugs', breaking the latter's horn.

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I shot a man in Reno - just to watch him die.

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Does verbal abuse count?  If so, then Buddy Rich would have to be  Abuser #1.  It's lucky he's not around doing that shit today.  Nowadays, some band member or former band member would likely show up locked and loaded at one of his gigs and blow his MFing head off right there onstage.  That's just the kinda world we live in nowadays . . .

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There are many accounts of Stan Getz being very violent toward his wife.

And don't forget the knife episode with Dizzy and Cab Calloway.

Another jazz victim of violence is Eddie Jefferson. Also Bud Powell being beat on the head by the police.

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6 hours ago, JSngry said:

That stirs a suspicion in me that maybe "perfection" is in the eye of the beholder

Image result for eye of the beholder twilight zone

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Peter Friedman said:

And don't forget the knife episode with Dizzy and Cab Calloway.

 

Cab dropped trousers in the lobby of the Blackstone Hotel, Chicago to show me the scar - right ham iirc.

Edited by Chuck Nessa

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1 hour ago, duaneiac said:

Does verbal abuse count?  If so, then Buddy Rich would have to be  Abuser #1.  It's lucky he's not around doing that shit today.  Nowadays, some band member or former band member would likely show up locked and loaded at one of his gigs and blow his MFing head off right there onstage.  That's just the kinda world we live in nowadays . . .

Buddy went way beyond verbal abuse. A close friend of mine, Joe Dixon, was BR's roommate when they were both on the road with Tommy Dorsey. They had some type of argument about something, and Buddy knocked Joe out with one punch.

Max Roach came down to Ornette's debut club appearance in NY in 1959, and after hearing him play, went back stage, and knocked him out with one punch. Then he was waiting at the place where Ornette was staying, and beat the crap out of him again!

One member of Jaki Byard's Apollo Stompers was notorious for going psycho when he drank too much.I did a gig with him where he was bugged because this very annoying trumpet player kept laying out on the ensemble parts on this one chart, because he wanted to save his chops for his solo. He kept telling the trumpet player, "Quit laying out!", but the guy kept doing it. Finally he had enough, and picked the guy up, and flung him across the room, right into the wall. I watched the audiences heads follow the trumpet player's trajectory!

The same guy who threw the trumpet player was on the road with the Lee Castle Band, and because he didn't own a car, he had to get a ride with a friend of mine, who also has a very short temper. Somewhere on the NE Turnpike, they got into an argument about trumpet playing, and they started socking each other back and forth, as they were stuck in a traffic jam.. Finally, my friend managed to open the door of the car, and literally kicked the guy out of the car, and left him on the Turnpike.

Finally, my friend with a short temper got into a fight with Jerry Weiss, the trumpet player from BS&T's original band, right on the stand. My friend kicked the shit out of him, and they had to carry Weiss off the stand. Weiss, a diagnosed schizophrenic, came back to the same gig the next week, and had no recollection of the event!

Larry has mentioned that jazz musicians remind him of pro athletes, and I tend to agree with him.

 

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Didn't Wynton describe jazz as "men working together" in the Ken Burns Jazz doc? Maybe he should have said "men fighting together".

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If I'm the Larry you have in mind, I was thinking along the lines of both pro athletes and many jazz musicians thinking in terms of a "clubhouse" to which those who deserve to belong belong and those who don't are on the other side of the door. If so, this no doubt has to do with the many ways that both groups are isolated from the rest of humanity by the special demands they must meet, the special skills they must possess, and their belief that the rest of humanity doesn't understand this. Nor, one could argue, do the members of either group particularly want the rest of humanity to understand this -- staying behind a door that's closed to strangers can be satisfying.

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14 hours ago, BillF said:

Jazz musician as murderer?

ladyhaigbook.jpg

Not to diminish the importance of domestic violence, but it's one thing to hit your wife; it's quite another to go to work and punch one of your co-workers. I don't mean one is worse than the other, I mean socially it has much different consequences (usually).

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