Jiggs Whigham, Red-Faced
As Told by Terry MacDonald
My friend, the trombonist and educator Oliver “Jiggs” Whigham, leads an enviable life. For one thing, it's all about music. For another, he splits his time between Bonn, London and Cape Cod. At the age of just 19, Jiggs was first and solo trombonist with the Stan Kenton band. By the time he was 22, he became featured soloist with the Kurt Edelhagen Jazz Orchestra at the West German Broadcasting Company in Cologne, Germany. Ever since, Europe has been his base of operations—where he has been teaching, performing and presenting clinics worldwide, and directing bands.
Big band has always been Jiggs Whigham’s primary focus, and today he’s the conductor of the BBC Big Band in Great Britain, artistic director of the Berlin Jazz Orchestra and of both the Brandenburger and German National Youth Jazz Orchestras.
It was when he was a leading a certain big band in Europe (best that it go unnamed) that this incident occurred one night. It involves a particular player in the trumpet section that Jiggs, along with everybody in the band, worried about every time the band performed. Fine musician, of course, but he had an unnerving and uncontrollable habit of blurting things out, things that should not be blurted out. It was a form of Tourette’s Syndrome apparently, according to Jiggs.
Well, the time came for Jiggs to introduce the girl singer, a blues belter who was as wide as she was tall. And as she walked onto the stage to great applause, and wearing a vast, bright yellow muumuu, the trumpet player rose from his seat in the brass section, raised his index finger skyward, and blurted, “Taxi!”