A proposed local band for (regrettably) imaginary local people, and the aborted expedition to Promotemybrandia…….
The Beat Combo
John Calcott & Tim Smith: guitars
Colin Myers: bass
Benny Benko: drums
Jon Seagroatt: saxes, keys, hand percussion, production
A while ago, in 2018, I got a bit fed up with the whole ‘24/7’ self-promotion / social media content-provider web presence fandango one was supposed to be engaged in as a musician, and decided to duck out for a while and pull together something more localised and time-manageable.
I had a set of material for which I had never really found a good home in other projects, and I decided to rejig these tunes a little to suit the following carefully limited specification;
1 Suitable for a jazz-based four or five piece band with sax, guitar, keys, bass, drums.
2 Approachable enough to attract a small, regular audience to an upstairs room in a Midlands market town boozer on a wet Wednesday evening.
3 Easily memorable tunes that could pass the ‘whistle test’ for an audience to pick up on.
4 Easily understandable structures for an audience (and the band!) to grasp (usually head, head, solos, head – the classic jazz formula).
5 Solo sections that move through key-changes to add a dash of high-wire thrillz for the soloists.
So nothing wildly ambitious. This was to be – to paraphrase the League of Gentlemen – a local band for local people.
I recorded a set of demos for the band consisting of sax, bass, keys & drum loops, scored the accompanying lead-sheets (tunes, chords, song structures), recruited a clutch of excellent musicians from around the region and set to work conjuring up The Beat Combo.
To cut a too long story very short, there actually didn’t seem to be any upstairs rooms in any Midlands market town boozers interested in a local band playing jazz-based material for local people on a wet Wednesday evening…..so, inevitably, the band folded.
We made a test recording of some of the tunes in 2019, and here some of them are:
The downloadable sax-backing tracks
The players who worked on the tunes really enjoyed them, and I’ve also used the tunes to help my sax students get used to soloing over changes. That gave me the idea of making some of my original demos available as backings for soloing practice more widely.
I put my head down, and did a lot of work to put this idea into useable shape, but in the end, I was once again overwhelmed by the sense of ‘Arrrggghhh-ness‘ that creeps up on me when I contemplate the endless vista of ‘self-as-brand-promotion’, that blasted heath where you could always DO JUST A BIT MORE, for ever and ever and ever……
So I did all the necessary work to get the whole show teetering on the very edge of Promotemybrandia, took a look around, though; ‘nah…you’re alright’, and went back into the studio again to do something else.
Here’s a selection of the tunes that I prepared:
The free stuff…..
If people liked any of the tunes, they were (and indeed still are) welcome to download them for free by selecting the tune, clicking on the Soundcloud link (top right in the player above), and then on ‘more’ & ‘download file’.
Note that the soloing sections are ‘empty’, as each tune is simply a guide for the band of the head, chords and song structure.
The cheap stuff…..(links below)
If anyone was interested in playing any of the tunes themselves, they could (and indeed still can) buy ‘playalong packs’ for £2 from this Bandcamp page.
Each pack consists of:
- the guide track (with guide sax)
- the ‘minus one’ (no sax) backing track
- a track of the solo section looped (repeated) four times for soloing practise
- a single solo section for use in DAWs and looper apps & pedals
- printable lead sheets in Bb, Eb & C versions, (including scale choice suggestions for the solo sections)
If you follow the links below there’s more information on the individual tunes and videos of the scores:
By the way, I made this material available under this Creative Commons license, which allows the tunes to be shared and adapted (non-commercially), providing I am credited as the author. This means the tunes can be played with a band and recordings of them can be made etc., etc. All the regular stuff.
However, if you think you might be able to turn one of the tunes into a multi-platinum selling single for Rhianna please don’t hesitate to drop me a line to discuss terms…..