Attracting the best musicians for your project

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Funkateer, Nov 24, 2005.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    In a sense, this is a follow up thread to

    I am going to start a new project. Kinda jazz/funk/hiphop fusion. Heavy groove, jazz harmony. All instrumental - bass, drums, keys, sax. I don't have any of the players lined up yet. Here in the SF Bay Area, musician wanted postings on Craigslist are pretty effective.

    The better the musician, the greater their expectations are for the rest of the band, and the bandleader. First impressions are important, so before I invite musicians over, I want to be maximally prepared, so that the experienced players feel that rehearsals are going to be efficient and focussed, and that their time is going to be well spent with the project.

    The first thing I need to complete is writing a set's worth of tunes. I am going to insist on players that can read (not necessarily at sight). Without real charts, tunes just take longer to learn, and make it difficult to use subs. Recently, I have been composing using Ableton Live, and once I have a tune close, I dump all the midi data into Sibelius and massage it into a lead sheet or arrangement. This way I can give folks a chart, and an Ableton Live MIDI 'scratch track' to play along to.

    Then I need to really master my part on all of these songs. Master as in being able to play it confidently while cueing or otherwise directing the band. Something new for me, and something that will be a challenge.

    With this homework done, I think I would be ready to invite musicians over and give them the charts and playalong beforehand. This should make the rehearsal reasonably efficient, and hopefully give the experienced guys a warm fuzzy that the project will move forward efficiently toward a first gig.

    What else should I do before the first rehearsal to get my 'ducks in a row'? Perhaps a project timeline with milestones for completing a demo package, and a target date to start gigging?

    Any other tips for attracting and retaining the best musicians?
  2. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    Are people usually attracted to that type of project- working with a composer? I jumped on board something with a "composer" once, and jumped away after the first rehearsal.
  3. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    What went wrong? Did the composer have good charts? Did you not like the music?
  4. Jazz isn't all about sheets man:-/
  5. From my perspective, someone interested in something like that would be more interested in being able to contribute their own ideas to the tunes, rather than you figuring everything out ahead of time and "directing" everyone else.

    People who do it for the money won't want to rehearse much, and people who do it for fun/love won't want to be cut out of the creative process. There's a fine line between you being prepared enough and having a sets worth of songs "done", and having the parts figured out, not allowing them any creative input.

  6. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    My notion is not to exclude anybody's creativity. Seems to me any gigging group needs way more tunes that just one set. I would hope that other band members would bring in their charts too. I am not looking to be the only composer/arranger in the group.

    I am however, very interested in making efficient use of rehearsal time. My experience with good horn players is that in a combo situation, you put a lead sheet in front of them, everybody instantly knows what to do, or at least are asking the same questions. (e.g. head 2x in and out? Bossa for the A, swing the B? ) Likewise, you put them in a big band situation, they're going to read the part and then take their solo when the time comes.

    My goal is not to write funky chamber music. This is improvised music. Having a chart in front of you that has the changes and the melody is just the starting point.

    Also, I should be clear on the nature and intent of the MIDI realization. I really do think of this as a scratch track. Enough to give a musician a feel for the changes, groove, melody, structure, etc., but with fairly Mickey Mouse parts for the instruments I really don't play.
  7. Ok, that sounds about right, then. You have enough structure so you have actual songs to do, so people aren't standing around totally making everything up on the fly trying to stumble into creating a tune from scratch. But its a rough enough draft that people can put their stamp on it. Carry on...

  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Yeah man. Jazz is all about spirit. Come on. Screw sheets. Composition? Stop imposing your vision and stomping other people's creativity, it's not cool. :rolleyes:

    On a more serious note -- sounds like you'll be decently prepared. Are you sticking with the 32-bar chorus, leadsheet-is-all-you-need format, or are you eventually going to something a bit more...sophisticated, with through-composed sections, a la Mingus/Holland?
  9. IMHO, its not always about attracting the best musicians. I'm certainly not the world's best bassist, my drummer is capable but not flash, the singer/guitarist is good but not sublime....

    I think it's about finding people who will work well with you. The sum is greater than the individual - find people who you like playing with and your project will succeed.

    Best of luck
  10. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Throwing a lot of cash at them may lead players to be more willing to compromise.

    Even more cash may lead to downright subsurvience.

    If the stuff was really cool I'd do it for free but that's just me.
  11. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    No smilies, but I have the sense you are being at least a little tongue in cheek. However, your point is still well taken.

    The real strong players out there are busy. The only way I could get them on my project is by paying them. They're not going to volunteer because we both know that as players, they are in a different league. But since the band works from charts, and they can both sight read and solo, one rehearsal before the gig, maybe on the same night oughta do it. Everybody's happy, they make some $ and the band gets the benefit of a super badass at a gig.
  12. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    We'll see what actually develops, but I have written some big band and similar largish mixed ensemble tunes for other bands in the past, so there undoubtedly will be some through composed stuff.
    The sound in my head is more groove oriented, so I'm looking at extended soloing over relatively simple changes, broken up by contrasting sections that might be hits or otherwise through composed.