I was at a symposium or something once that had jazz panels. I was never into jazz panels. They tend to be bookish and dull. I usually find anything jazz that doesn’t involve people actually playing jazz to be bookish and dull. But I checked out one of these panels, though, because it had an old alto playing be bop buddy of mine on it. Old be boppers are never dull. If they’d been dull they wouldn’t have done something looney like playing be bop. But this panel was dull anyway. Dull dull dull. Even the panelists looked bored. So I told a pal sitting next to me that I could completely wreck it. He said I couldn’t. I said just watch this, and raised my hand and asked about Johnny Hodges. My old be bop alto buddy hated Johnny Hodges and out came a long winded, offensive and hysterically funny diatribe against the way Johnny Hodges played saxophone and against pre-bop alto saxophonery in general. People in the audience were offended and yelled back. After a few raucous minutes things finally settled down. So I raised my hand again and asked about Art Pepper. My old be bop alto buddy hated Art Pepper and went into another long, offensive and hysterically funny harangue against Art Pepper. All hell broke loose again. The famous trumpeter on the panel, to calm things down, told an extremely rude joke about Puerto Rican women. The famous trombone player talked about how high he used to get. My bop buddy talked about reefers. The trumpeter told another rude joke. The trombonist had a million drug stories. My buddy went after Johnny Hodges again. The trumpeter told another joke. All three panelists were in stitches. People walked out. The moderator just gave up entirely.
And while that was probably the best jazz panel ever, I promised myself that I would never do that again.
So consider this an apology.
(2009. Originally posted on BricksPicks.com)