Daily Archives: January 18, 2011


My friend Oran Purvis (he plays trumpet) told me this one:

One of the great thrills of my life was meeting Harry “Sweets” Edison when he appeared at a San Francisco area concert.  I was able to meet him briefly — he was very interested in the Selmer trumpet I had — and I asked him what it was like to play with the Basie band back when Lester Young, Walter Page, and Jo Jones were in the band.  Now I realize that that was kind of like asking Leonardo what painting the Mona Lisa was like, but Sweets handled the question very well:  he told me a story of being on the road with the band, which went like this:
Man, it was great, but, you know back in those days, there were no hotels for black musicians, so we had to stay in rooming houses.  Now Walter Page liked to drink, and one night he came back to this rooming house in the middle of the night and fixed himself a snack.   The next morning when we were leaving, he told the lady who owned the place, “‘Ma’am, last night I got a little hungry and I ate a can of your potted ham.”  The lady said, “I don’t have any potted ham, but someone ate up a can of my dog’s food!”  We laughed about that for a long time.”