Pee Wee Marquette

For the uninitiated: Pee Wee Marquette was a fixture at the old Birdland, known to the club’s audiences for his elecutionary introductions when he left his doorman’s post to be the MC, and to musicians as an extortionist. His nickname derived from his stature; he was under four feet tall. For a Lee Friedlander photograph of him with Count Basie, go here.
Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond, includes an account of one of Marquette’s free enterprise methods. The quote is from Mort Lewis, the manager of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1950s.

There was a black midget, Pee Wee Marquette, who was the master of ceremonies at Birdland. And every act that played there, the musicians had to give him fifty cents and he would announce their names as he introduced the band. Dave Brubeck gave him fifty cents, Joe Dodge gave him fifty cents, and Norman Bates gave him fifty cents. Paul Desmond refused to pay one cent. And when Pee Wee Marquette would introduce the band, he’d always say, in that real high-pitched voice, “Now the world famous Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring Joe Dodge on drums, Norman Bates on bass,” and then he’d put his hand over the microphone and turn back to Joe or Norman and say, “What’s that cat’s name?” referring to Paul. Then he would take his hand off the microphone and say, ‘On alto sax, Bud Esmond.’ Paul Loved that.

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