Gentleman Occupations: Bandleader

Today we continue the gentlemanly tradition of researching occupations that many before us have pioneered. Today we will turn our attention to the bandleader. The golden age of big bands (we here at The Gentleman prefer to call them “a conglomeration of fine men examining their musicality”) is, unfortunately, long behind us. It is for this reason that the HL Griffith Institute of Time Travel Research is now operating in an outpost on Griffith Manor.
The first thing a band leader must do is lead a band. As Count Basie used to say,
“Don’t forget to count, Big Bird”
                      – Count Basie
Of course, this is not exactly relevant. But needless to say, if you can lead a band, you can do almost anything. Including captain a yacht or catamaran.

Count Basie had to occasionally leave gigs early to sail his yacht with a poop-deck full of bikini-wearing ladies.

Another delightful part of the 1940s music industry was that your knowledge of scotch and cigars somehow played a very important role. Many bandleaders would spend more time studiously investigating these areas than they would playing or writing music.

Miles Davis telling us what number Scotch he's on.

Some bandleaders to familiarise yourself with include Count Basie (who led Count Basie and His Orchestra and worked extensively with Sinatra), Miles Davis (most notable for his quintet and sextet), John Coltrane, Duke Ellington and many others.

Duke Ellington gets excited for tea and scones.

The wonder of many of these people was that they were exceptional on many different instruments. Where you or I see a simple trumpet-shaped piece of brass, Miles Davis saw an instrument. That is what set these gentlemen apart.

John Coltrane released three albums where he played the cigar instead of the saxophone.

A little known fact about Brixley and I is that we started a Latin jazz band back in the 1960s. It ended conflict in the Middle East for a period and had the Pope renounce his faith, but all this good work was undone when we disbanded to safari in Africa. In fact, many notable band leaders either started out or finished in completely different professions.

Dave Brubeck started out as a stand-up comedian. Audiences criticized him for being "too side on" and he eventually turned to music.

Just remember that if you are looking to pursue a career leading a convocation of brass-toting gentleman, there are hardships faced when touring the world for years on end. You may not see eye-to-eye with everyone and you can get stressed or depressed. But don’t worry, The Gentleman is your online counseling service. Whatever is getting to you, wash it away your problems with a few tall glasses of your favourite Islay and a tightly-rolled cigar.

Cab Calloway takes a swing at Steve 'The Colonel' Cropper for stealing his bean taco. Luckily, Calloway has no depth perception.

So get out your turntable, dust of the vinyl, take a seat on your chesterfield, light up a cigar, pour yourself a scotch, put on your dressing gown and get ready to pass the hours enjoying the fruits of one of the gentlemanliest of occupations: the bandleader.

Lionel Hampton often insisted that he be the only person in his band to stand up (by punishment of having your thick-rimmed glasses revoked).

Until next time,

HL Griffith.