Monday, October 1, 2018

Who's in the Band?

 "Who's in the band?"

This used to be a question asked by promoters to touring artists because they were sincere fans of the music or if they need the information for pamphlets, posters grant or funding proposals and other forms of concert promotion. These days, promoters normally ask this question because, of late, many privately prefer to book all-star groups and tribute bands in order to "fill the seats," as they put it. They consider groups comprised of all well known musicians to be a low-risk venture and many operate under the (ridiculous) notion that young and unknown musicians won't draw a crowd. Most players know all too well that there's a guaranteed better connection amongst musicians who play together regularly and have an actual band dynamic.  But still, "name recognition" is the order of the day for most bookers, (as if every potential patron of a concert makes their decisions based on that information alone.) Speaking as a long time bandleader who presents himself most often in an environment that is charged with youthful energy, and who regularly employs some of the most amazing young upstarts-at- large, I have come to expect not only being asked who's in the band, but am also, even at this point in my career, requested to submit my full press package (bio, photos, press releases and latest CD) as well. On one hand, it's quite the insult to bear the suggestion that one's reputation is not enough to provide an adequate "draw," but  also to have to "sell" your music time and time again to people who NEVER go out to check out the hot new players, nor who know what's really happening in our world and get all of their updates from popularity polls in trade magazines, is an even lower blow.

Generally speaking, "all-star" lineups and compilation/tribute bands are very poor representations of artistic expression at it's best.  Egos, outrageous expectations and artist "handlers"  normally prevent events like these from reaching their full potential.

Just remember, you promoters who request "name" musicians in every line-up: All of the top-tier artists that you want as headliners at your establishment, were also "unknown" at one time and were sidepersons in someone elses' band. If that bandleader hadn't given them a shot, (as many of you fail to do by denying bookings to groups with unfamiliar names) you wouldn't have ANYONE to book now at all. So, whenever the question if "Jazz is Dead" is asked, (as it frequently is) guess whose helping to kill it by turning away capable and provocative talent just because they're uninformed, biased, or simply have no ears for what's really hip?

"Who's in the band?" 

I'll tell you who - someone that you should be HONORED to present,  because you respect the bandleader's judgement, because you respect the mechanism of nurturing and mentorship and that, as an agent of the music, it's someone that you should WANT to present in an effort to further the careers and artistry of those who also have dedicated themselves to the preservation of such a valued and cherished art form.

"Who's in the band?" 

Yes, we know that this question is normally asked for promotional purposes, but perhaps less emphasis should be placed on the individuals involved and more attention could be given to the totality of the work, it's presentation and possible impact.


  1. pablo garma santanderOctober 7, 2018 at 5:17 PM

    Mr. Osby:

    ... but I am also, even at this point in my career, requested to submit my full press package."

    They could google your name & have the newspaper library archives sent to them without leaving their desk. This is uncontroversial evidence of utter laziness. It is worse than ignorance, IMHO.

    1. Promoters occasionally flex their position and seek to make artists grovel for inclusion in their booking schedules. They control the programming, so it becomes an issue of "how badly do you want it?" Also, I failed to mention that bio and press packages are often requested by promoters that actually do know who I am, as well as those whom have booked me in the past. It's a silly game that some enjoy playing.

    2. Thank you for your comment, Pablo. Many promoters ask for a press package, even if they are not necessarily a fan of a particular artist or their music. However, since a press package normally includes a CD, it's a good opportunity for a promoter to expand his CD collection at no expense. Like music journalists and critics, it's not uncommon from bookers and concert promoters to live among mountains and shelves of free CDs and books. I happen to know very many, and they all have exceptional and impressive media collections.