Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Bandleader as a Coach

It amazes me that I feel compelled to feel the need to compose an article such as this. But events that I have either witnessed or been told first hand accounts of has angered me to the core.

Music is an incredible thing existing in a way almost comparable to a living organic entity. It can be thought of like a flame: it has a birth, it breaths, expands, retracts and eventually dies. The spark of creativity and the give and take of human interaction from each musician allows even a note for note recreation of a performance to have an incredible individualistic identity; each performance has factors that will influence that specific moment to have a unique life.

The musicians that make up a band are no different from a football team. I'm not the first to make a music/sports analogy. I've been reading these comparisons for over twenty years. Miles Davis frequently used boxing as a reference for his own aural creations and bandstand interactions. The team needs to support one another regardless of who is "soloing" or the focus of audience attention. The fluidity of improvised music is two-fold: not only does it mimic the passing of the ball but the actual positions rotate around the bandstand depending on what is happening. The quarterback is always someone different; passing the ball to a receiver and hoping he will catch it; hoping everyone will all still be on the ONE when a spontaneous group hemiola resolves.

If the band is the team, then the bandleader is the Coach. As I previously stated, the quarterback is always someone different, but the Coach is always the same. The Coach's job is not limited to the ego-stroking that comes with being onstage. The job has an important role "off-field" as well. The Coach represents the band to the general public. The Coach is the normally the first contact a new venue has. The Coach's abilities in sales, marketing, legalese, accounting and organization should be limitless. The Coach has got to stand up for his team, otherwise the team will lose faith in their Coach. And a team that has lost that faith will not perform.

A Coach who does not stand up for the band externally - or stand up to the band internally - has no place being a Coach.