Great Encounters #50 — The Night Bill Evans met Woody Herman

October 14th, 2017

“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of the evening of the 1963 Grammy Awards, when Woody Herman met Bill Evans

 

Excerpted from Meet Me at Jim and Andy’s,” by Gene Lees

 

 

Bill Evans

 

Woody Herman

 

 

The day of the Grammy awards dinner arrived.  Just starting to put his life together, Bill had very little money, and nothing appropriate to wear.  As it happened, I was storing a closetful of clothes for Woody Herman, one of the dapper dressers in the business.  There was a particularly well-made blue blazer which, to Bill’s surprise and mine, fit him perfectly.  So he donned it.  Just before we were to leave, I turned somehow and spilled a drink in his lap.  Fortunately there was another pair of slacks that fit him.  We picked up Helen [Keane] and went to the banquet.  And I managed to repeat the trick:  I turned and spilled another drink in his lap.  He laughed and said, “Man, are you trying to tell me something?”  At that moment, they called his name.   Bill picked up his Grammy for Conversations in soaking pants and Woody Herman’s blazer.

Bill had never met Woody Herman, one of his early idols, and I arranged for the three of us to have lunch a few days later.  Bill turned up wearing, to my horror, that blazer.  “Do you like the jacket?” Bill said, after the formality of introduction.

“It looks faintly familiar,” Woody said.

Bill flung it open with a matadorial gesture to show its brilliant lining.  “How do you like the monogram?” he said.  It was of course WH.  “It stands,” Bill said, “for William Heavens.”  And Woody laughed.  Fortunately.

That evening we went to hear the band.  Woody tried to introduce a tune only to be interrupted by some drunk blearily shouting, “Play Woodpeckers’ Ball.”  Woody tried to talk him down but the drunk persisted.  “Play Woodpecker’s Ball.

Finally Woody said, “All right, for Charlie Pecker over there, we’re going to play Woodpecker’s Ball.

“Man,” Bill said, who was quite shy, “that takes real hostility.  If I tried that, some cat would come up on the bandstand and punch me in the mouth.”

 

 

__________

 

 

Excerpted from Meet Me at Jim and Andy’s,

by Gene Lees

 

 

Share this:

One comments on “Great Encounters #50 — The Night Bill Evans met Woody Herman”

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

In this issue, 25 noted critics, writers, musicians and artists answer the question, “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”…Also, an interview with Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell; ”And so we left for Paris” a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht (one on Paul Desmond, the other on Art Farmer); 18 poets contribute 20 poems to our March poetry collection; new jazz listening recommendations; and lots more…

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Short Fiction

"And so we went to Paris," a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Poetry

Eighteen poets contribute 20 poems in the March collection

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

The Joys of Jazz

Two new podcasts from Bob Hecht -- on Paul Desmond, and Art Farmer

Poetry

“King Louis en le toilette” — a poem (and collage) by Steven Dalachinsky

On the Turntable

Recommended listening…Check out these 18 recently released jazz recordings by Branford Marsalis, Anna Maria Jopek, Ralph Alessi, Larry Grenadier, Jon Cowherd, Stephane Galland, Mathias Eick and the Jimbo Tribe

Art

“Thinking about Robert Johnson” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Great Encounters #54

In this edition, Joe Hagan, author of STICKY FINGERS: .The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine, writes about how co-founders Wenner and legendary San Francisco music critic Ralph Gleason came upon the name for their revolutionary publication, Rolling Stone magazine.

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

An interview with Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon

In the previous issue

The February, 2019 issue features an interview with Thomas Brothers, author of Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration…Also, previous winners of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest reflect on their winning story; two new podcasts from Bob Hecht; a new collection of poetry; recommendations of recently release jazz recordings, and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive