Tune Up

14 Dec

The way I sat in with Sonny Stitt was…no seriously, that was his name. No, that was something else you’re thinking about. That was when I killed a bottle of Dewar’s in the dressing room then went out and hit nothin’ but rims but that was ok ’cause most people thought I was playing rim shots but anyway. Yea I nearly got a beating from Snazz for that one and I coulda gotten a broken face so I got lucky. But anyway, Sonny Stitt. I’m serious, that was his name. I can’t believe you ain’t heard of him. Alto sax. Was on the Mercury label with Dizzy and Blakey and Monk. Sonny Stitt. Stop it, come on now. You oughta be shamed of yourself for not knowin’.

So how it goes is, I’m playin hooky from the desk job and instead of doin’ the overnights on the banana trade in Latam, I go down to Georgetown to have a few with Johnnie Brosnani at The Saloon. You know later they used The Saloon to do that movie St. Elmo’s Fire but anyway. So Johnnie Brosnani’s there at the corner where he usually sits to get a good view of the stage and soon as I open the door he starts in on how he’s being audited. Audited, I say, heh? The hell’s for, he says. You know how he does the victim junks with his shoulders up lookin’ like he’s got no neck and that vulture nose…anyway. I make less than twelve grand a year, he says. And I hear him loud and clear ’cause Uncle Sam’s a bitch like that and instead of going after the big wolves hiding their stash in them shelters down there in the Caymans, they pick on schlubs like Johnnie Brosnani. I mean that’s how it is. I know it, you know it, right? And there’s nothin’ you can do about it. Uncle Sam is Uncle Sam. So I order three fingers of Turkey neat from this barkeep who’s got a baseball hat on backwards and some goddamn ring through his nose like he’s a bull in Pamplona waitin’ to run you down. So I know I’m getting some crappy concoction with ice cubes and all that. I’m ready for it, right? ‘Cause the barkeep’s a kid with a backwards hat. ‘Nuff said, right? Anyway so now Johnnie Brosnani’s goin’ on and on about the IRS and what he’s a gonna do and by now I have to go see a man about a horse, if you know what I mean. ‘Cause it was cold out there and I had to walk six blocks. So…no I don’t tell him ’cause wait for it…Johnnie Brosnani doesn’t even notice, the googootz. He just keeps going on about this goddamn audit. So I’m off.

Now. There’s two urinals in the place. No stalls, nothin’. One’s taken one’s open right? I usually hate this situation and wait for the man to finish, but… I go over and do my business ’cause I can’t wait. And who’s pissin’ next to me but Sonny Stitt. He’s on break. About to go on, he says. Only his kick man is out back gettin’ shredded by some blockhead Marine who’s pissed about his girl’s ass being accidentally prodded with a drumstick at the bar by our kick man on break. I know this ’cause Sonny Stitt says this to me, then says if I’m a regular do I know someone who can stand in for a quick session while he gets his goons to get the kick man outta trouble out back. I know, I know. At the pisser! So I say you’re not gonna believe this but…whatchyo next number? Why, he says. I say ’cause I might be able to give you a hand myself. ‘Cause I know Lover Man, Mr. Bojangles, You Are the Sunshine of My Life, and all that. And Sonny Stitt says all he’d need is someone who’d work the cymbals, is all. I tell him I’m your man and say whatchyo next number? Tune Up, he says. And then I finish, zip it, and tell him I can float him until his man gets outta trouble. Me, floatin’ Sonny Stitt. I know. And at the pisser too. What a gas, heh? And that’s how it went down. I got up behind the kit and hung on tight and did the number. Aint’ that somethin’. And for that the band bought me and Johnnie Brosnani a round. Only that kid barkeep was still tendin’ so we got shit, really, but it’s all right. It was from Sonny Stitt so it went down a bit easier, if you know what I mean.

True story.


2 Responses to “Tune Up”

  1. Geoff 14/12/2008 at 4:44 PM #

    Sonny Stitt had a heart of gold, but I remember the time he and Art Blakey had it out, because Sonny hated the name of Blakey’s band and had the nerve to say so to Blakey’s face. “Jazz Messengers?” Sonny said, as I recall, but I don’t really recall the rest of it, so really, don’t take my word on that one after all. Like you said, they were on the same label, so maybe it was all for the publicity. The papers love that stuff. All that’s fit to print and stuff, you know?

  2. (S)wine 15/12/2008 at 7:50 AM #

    But in the end all was well…the Messengers made a big splash for years. And Art was a helluva guy. Took everyone under his wing. Man could he swing! (that rhymes)

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