Hiring a Live Band
When it comes to great performances, phrasing is everything. It’s what makes Tony Bennett so delightful, and Frank Sinatra had it in spades. So did Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and others from their generation, mostly gone now.
And when you hire a band to perform live music as your corporate event entertainment, you want a great performance, right?
But how can there be phrasing, and a really great LIVE performance, when the band, singers, horn players and even the drummer are performing with pre-recorded “tracks,” lip-synching and playing along with a record as so many corporate event bands do today?
The following excerpt from a note I received this morning is an insightful perspective on this phenomenon:
We spoke earlier on the phone today. I just wanted to say again how nice it was to talk to somebody in the music business in this town that wasn’t immediately dismissive to a newly-arrived musician looking for opportunities. Kindness and compassion seem to be a rare commodity in this town from time to time, so thank you again.
As for the issue of “tracking” in performances here, I have to say I am pretty surprised that music has deteriorated to that level. Back home I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone using pre-recorded music in a performance – it was always assumed that if you needed more music than you could play yourself, you got another musician to help out… so here are my thoughts on this issue:
In order for music to be emotionally effective, it needs to be able to breathe and flow depending on the energy in the room, but more importantly by the energy and emotion pouring out of the performer. By using tracks, the performers have locked themselves into a static rhythm of expression and phrasing, and cannot allow for the subtle changes in tempo and dynamics that are required to really make a performance memorable and lasting. The push and pull in between the pulse of the music needs to have an elastic quality that allows for it to bend and shift as the phrase requires. Tracking seems to me no better than simply putting on a CD… at which point you should just hire yourself a DJ and call it quits.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents. Thank you again, and it was a real pleasure meeting you.”
Singer/bandleader Judy Chamberlain specializes in live music for celebrity weddings and events in California, Arizona, Texas and beyond. She can be reached at 714 319-9242