Book Excerpt: Buck Clayton's Jazz World

Selected Quotes about Freddie Green
Book: Buck Clayton's Jazz World
Author: Buck Clayton
Copyright: 1986
Publisher: The Macmillian Press Ltd. - London, England
ISBN: 0-19-520535-9

page 98 - Buck Clayton meets Freddie Green:

As for our recodings, my first recording was with Teddy Wilson along with Billie Holiday, just about two weeks before Basie made his first recording with the band. The first recording of my life was "Why Was I Born?", which happened to be the first song on the list to be sung by Billie. As I walked with Lester Young into the studio I was surprised to see so many people that I had never actually seen before. There was Benny Goodman, running up and down on his clarinet, warming up for the session. There was a tall cat sitting on a high stool with a pork-pie hat on that was introduced to me - Freddie Green, guitarist.

page 105 - Buck and Freddie become collectors

When Basie went back to one-nighters, the guys started finding hobbies to do sometimes. Freddie Green and I, being roommates, always had some kind of hobbies going to enlighten our lives while living on the bus so much. We once were collecting all of the Mickey Mouses and Donald Ducks that we could find in different cities. We had a hell of a variety of different kinds of ducks and mice, but we soon gave up this hobby because it got to the place that we didn't have enough room in our suitcases to put our clothes. Who can travel with a couple of suitcases of Mickey Mouses and Donald Ducks? Freddie and I had quite a few interesting things going on while being with the Count. We were once going to a dentist in California named Painless Parker. I had broken a tooth in Texas while eating chicken and Freddie and I both went to Painless Parker. It wasn't painless, believe me.

page 107 - Billie Holiday takes an interest in Freddie

Billie made it her business to take Lester Young and myself all around Harlem. We'd go to all the joints in Harlem and if we couldn't make them all in one day then we'd start again the next and go to all the pads that we had missed the week before. Lester, Billie, and myself. You couldn't ask for a better chaperone that Billie as everybody in Harlem seemed to know her. From every corner in Harlem there would be talk of Billie Holiday, some of it good and some of it bad, but we three were always pretty tight together. After Freddie Green came in the band, Billie showed a great interest in him, but Freddie already knew New York as he was working in a little club called the Black Cat when John Hammond brought him to Basie.

page 108 - Freddie loses his hat

After digging the Duke for a few minutes I noticed that I had forgotten my little bottle of trumpet-valve oil which I needed, so I went back to the dressing room to get it. While I was looking for it in my trumpet case, Herschel Evans came in and there were only the two of us in the the room. I don't know why Herschel came in but a few minutes later, after we had talked a little about the guys jamming downstairs, he noticed Walter Page's sousaphone mouthpiece laying on the table, where I guess Page had left it before he went downstairs. "Well look here," said Herschel, when he saw Page's mouthpiece, " I won't be hearing that damn sousaphone anymore." Herschel hated it when Page played the sousaphone sometimes in our arrangements. So he went over to the table, picked up Page's mouthpiece, went over to the window and threw it out. Out the window from sixteen stories up! Then he looked at me and said "Don't tell anybody." I said, "Hell, it's none of my business. Why should I say anything about it?" Then he went over to where Freddie Green's pork-pie hat was hanging with Freddie's coat. He walked over to the window again and threw the hat out of the window too. Then he went on back downstairs to the big session. When it was all over and we went upstairs to put our instruments away Page was fuming about not finding his mouthpiece and Freddie couldn't find his pork-pie hat. Herschel hated pork-pie hats too. So they both just had to come on back to our hotel without the mouthpiece or the hat. I don't think they ever knew what happened. I know I never told them. Herschel just went on and acted as if he didn't know from nothing.

page 110 - Freddie replaces Claude Williams

After the Savoy we returned to our recordings and rehearsals and soon we were booked into the Paramount Theater. By this time Basie had made quite a few changes in the band. Earle Warren came in from Ohio and took over the first alto chair replacing Caughey Roberts. Dickie Wells had replaced Eddie Durham along with the addition of Benny Morton on third trombone. Harry "Sweets" Edison had taken the second trumpet chair replacing little Bobbie Moore, who was a great little kind on trumpet but had some dental work done on his front two teeth and then he couldn't play a note. Freddie Green had replaced Claude Williams. With the coming Paramount engagement we had bought some new sharp uniforms, some of the best we had bought so far, and we went on to become a success at the Paramount along with the comedy team of Buck and Bubbles, and the gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. After the Paramount we played various clubs in and out of New York and our money was increasing until we found ourselves making pretty damn good money.

page 114 - Freddie is arrested

In the early 1940s we were beginning to be booked in movies and did quite a few. We made "Hit Parade of 1943" and "Reveille With Beverly", and quite a few shorts also. We were making a movie in 1942 at Columbia Studios in Hollywood when I suddenly became aware of the fact that it was quite possible that I could become a soldier in Uncle Sam's army. Basie was on the stand making this movie and during the breaks between takes Freddie Green strolled out onto Hollywood Boulevard and was window shopping, when suddenly he was confronted by some of Hollywood's finest and asked to show his registration card, his draft card. Freddie had lost his card some time back and had not bothered to get another one, so off he went to jail. Basie, in the meantime, was waiting for Freddie to come back but finally, after a long wait, had to go and finish without him. The next day Freddie was released and I began to think of my own position. I had lost my card also quite a while back and, like Freddie, I hadn't bothered to get a new one. So I said to myself, "If they arrest Freddie for something like that, they'll arrest me too." So on our trip back to New York from California I stopped at my sister's home in Kansas City and wrote to my draft board. I told them I had lost my draft card and that I would like to have another one. I think that did it. I had opened up a can of worms. When my draft board looked up my record, which they hadn't done until I wrote the letter, and found out that I was eligible to be drafted, they sent me a letter telling me to be able to report to the Army induction center within three weeks.

page 211 - Freddie tours with Buck Clayton

I was hired by a French promoter to write arrangements and direct a band of former Count Basie musicians for whom he was planning a five country tour. After writing for some months, the arrangements were finished, and in November 1983 we all met in New York and took the plane to Paris. We were billed as The Count's Men. Later we were called the Basie Alumni Band. Basie had excused Freddie Green for the three weeks to make the tour with us, which I thought was a nice gesture as Freddie would be a great attraction for the band as he had been with the Count for over forty years.

page 215 - Freddie plays a tribute concert

I participated in a tribute to John Hammond which took place at Avery Fisher Hall on June 25, 1985. John had been ill and was confined to his home. However, the tribute was a great honor to the greatest talent scout in the history of entertainment. I had to make a short speech and, along with my buddies such as "Sweets" Edison and Gus Johnson, we all had a ball. Freddie Green was there too.


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