Too Big a Band

 

I have a lot of weird music on my player. A bunch of it was research into some other time and place. I was riding my bike with my stereo playing and some old geezer was like, “great music!” I think it was Bessie Smith 1920s.

Anyway, I had my headphones on another night and heard a song my dad used to play. Chattanooga Choo Choo. We liked it as kids and had actually visited, numerous times, the Chattanooga station and rode the trolley.

The depth of this music is pretty astounding, and it’s unlikely you will get many or any chances to hear this kind of music live. There are simply too many musicians required. In Los Angeles, when I would see bands that had more than 4 members, I considered them kind of screwed. Because the fewer members, the easier to split small piles of gig money. When I first saw Ska bands with a regular string section, vocalists, percussion and horns, I was like, “this is doomed.” You can’t pay that many people. It’s a really simple concept, but you better make sure your singer is playing an instrument.

If you read or watch movies about the Big Band era, you’ll hear them talk about the band leaders. Those were the rock stars of that era. We love heroes and idols. Whether it’s composers like Mozart or band leaders like Glen Miller.

But here is the song I was listening to and with headphones on, I just stopped walking. I was amazed how many different instruments and vocalists and whatever they employed. Imagine how much money you have to make to keep all those people employed.

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