Quiet, Please!

By: Michael Fowler

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Cat’s Club. I’d like to introduce our band, we’re Rick Soloway on bass, Kit Richter on drums, and myself Mike Blaine on piano. Before we get started I’d like to go over a simple ground rule we have for playing out. We ask that you observe a strict silence during our performance. I don’t want to hear anybody ordering food or drink, or any talking or laughing, or any cell phones ringing, or any ice cubes clinking in glasses. It’s time to pay respect to this great music we call jazz. The least disturbance may interfere with our concentration and make it impossible for us to play. Up front in the red jacket, what is your name, sir? Are you the performer here tonight? Then why are you talking so much? You haven’t stopped talking since we came out on stage. Listen up, people. If the band doesn’t get a respectful silence, we ain’t going to play a note. It’s that simple. You want to talk or order food, go elsewhere. All right. Umm, hmm, piano seems to be in tune. We’d like to kick off the set with a Monk number, one of several of Monk’s we plan to play this evening. It’s called ‘Ruby, My Dear.’ Gentlemen, one, two…who is strangling? I think a man whose breathing is that labored should go to the hospital right now. He may require medical treatment that is not available here at Cat’s where a world-class jazz trio is trying to perform. You were just clearing your throat, sir? I see. And are you finished now? Right, then let’s take it again. One, two…yeah, this time we’re into it. It’s smooth, isn’t it? I like to make the high notes twinkle like stars in the night sky. And so far you’re silent, which is good. I myself talk over the band, as you can see, but then it’s my gig. Okay, everyone stop playing. Who’s snapping their fingers? Oh you’re just “getting into” the music, ma’am? Have you joined our band as our new timekeeper? No? Okay then, knock it off. That is a total distraction. How would you like it if I went to your job or to your house and snapped my fingers in front of your coworkers or your guests without the least inhibition and all out of sync? I’m thinking you wouldn’t like it very much. We’re going to pick it up at the drum solo, and I don’t want to hear anyone so much as sniff. One, two…yeah, that’s got it. Digging it there, digging it. Get in on that cymbal. All right, stop right there. You, at the table by the steps. Did you toss a Styrofoam cup down those steps? Did you or did you not, is what I’m asking. You did drop a Styrofoam cup down the steps, but it was an accident? Man, with the acoustics in this place, that cup was audible next door. I could hear a “pock!” each time it bounced off a step. Each one of those “pocks!” cut into my brain like a gunshot. People, you simply have no idea what damage you’re inflicting on my nervous system. I get a distinct pang when I play before people who have no self-control, who are ill-mannered as children, who have no regard for the majesty and sanctity of the music we bring to them, and no respect for the musicians who, often at great personal sacrifice, dedicate their lives to bringing forth the finest jazz sounds of which a musical conglomerate is capable. We’re going to try this one more time, but let me remind you that we’re under no obligation to perform for ingrates and savages. Thank you, I appreciate your consideration this evening. One, two…yeah, okay we’re cookin’. We’re swingin’. This is my favorite part here. This is my favorite part that you, lady back there, just ruined by calling for your check. Everybody stop. I would gladly have paid for the cocktails and dinner of everyone here if only I could have been assured that no one would ruin our performance by calling for their check. Oh you thought you did it as quietly as possible? It sounded to me like you were screaming for you life. Do you know what? We’re leaving now. You save your “aw’s” and “come on’s” for someone else. This ain’t no James Brown act, we’re finished, there’s no coming back. Goodnight. And hold your applause. Nothing upsets me more than applause.


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