Wedding Jazz Orchestra Diary: It’s Supposed To Swing!
Let’s talk about the best wedding band in America.
OK, let’s talk about reality.
Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Dorothy Fields and Nelson Riddle would all be rolling over in their graves if they’d heard what I just heard….
Fields wrote some of the best live music for weddings, Astaire sang it..and in later years Sinatra did, too, with arrangements by Riddle.
Did they “do” weddings? Probably.
If you were a friend to them, definitely.
How about today. Is there such a thing as the best wedding band in America?
One thing’s for sure: there certainly are a lot of bad ones.
People tell us that finding the right music for their wedding or event is the hardest part of the planning experience.
To be a seriously good wedding band it’s important to have a great repertoire — and actually understand the history and the lyrics of the songs, not just the titles. That’s where DJ’s fall apart, after the most obvious selections. So do many bands. Phrasing counts, and musicians who are out of their element in all but one or two of the genres they’re playing probably don’t have the phrasing skills needed to put over the others with any credibility. Maybe they are a “cover band” that plays 80’s rock. Standards? Please….
I was just on the website of one such band, and listened in horror as as the singer absolutely had a field day — and not in a good way (please pardon the pun) — with the Dorothy Field lyrics to “The Way You Look Tonight,” adding words and cute little phrases and completely screwing up the time and the meter.
Even worse, it took a twenty piece group of them to do it. Screeching, out-of-tune-horns, dated arrangements… and while they weren’t down in the bottom-feeding element of bands that use tracks and just look like they’re playing, it was still awful. There was no musical phrasing. These guys couldn’t swing if Benny Goodman jumped up and kicked them in the butt.
Who could dance to that?
The videos are all staged, by the way.
It’s entirely possible that there are a lot of people who don’t know how to find a good band, or think that such a thing even exists anymore. I’m beginning to think they’re right.
Limited repertoires, reading from books on music stands. Amateurs trying to imitate Frank Sinatra.
Lester Lanin and Meyer Davis would roll over in their graves, too.
I think people who hire a live band deserve better. I think they deserve the real deal, a bunch of terrific musicians who play a lot of styles of music very well. Just like it used to be.