jazz bands

It’s very often the case that when people choose to hire a jazz band for a wedding, corporate event or birthday party, the majority of guests won’t have experienced a jazz band before. In fact, many organisers of such events are probably not sure how to go about hiring one.

There are certain steps to follow when hiring jazz bands and the first is to familiarise yourself with the types of live jazz music available. You have to do your homework so have a good listen to what bands in this field of entertainment have to offer for the private function. Most have classy websites which you can easily find. All you need to do is go online and find them through Google search by typing in, say, ‘jazz bands London.’

Jazz songs to your liking

On these websites you’ll not only find information about the band but also visuals and sound bites of them performing live. Have a listen. Are their jazz songs to your liking – and will they please your guests of course? There’s no point in hiring particular jazz bands if you don’t like what they play.

How versatile are they? A large proportion of live function bands can only play 30 or so songs but a real jazz band should be able to play just about anything in their particular and unique style. Put each into music context – that’s to say make a list of jazz musicians you like already like. Searching ‘jazz’ on YouTube for example will bring up a host of performer videos covering every aspect of the genre that is jazz.

Brilliant players and vocalists in jazz bands

Jazz musicians tend to be quite extrovert as well as brilliant players and vocalists. Are the jazz bands you’ve short listed good communicators? Are they helpful when you’re making an enquiry about hiring them? Good ‘jazzers’ should be suggesting bands to fit your event based on your specific requirements – it’s something you may need to work on with the band to get the right sets and so avoid disappointment.

In terms of cost, remember that professional jazz bands have generally spent the best part of their lives practising, crafting and expanding their skills. It’s probably one of the most qualified jobs around in the music business therefore the price tag should match their abilities. In London for example, the standard rate for a pro jazz musician is a minimum £130 per hour. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to negotiate when hiring jazz bands.

Music tailored to your requirements

For whether it’s for a wedding, birthday, anniversary, celebrations of all kinds from festivals and carnivals to village fêtes  indoor or outdoor events good jazz bands can tailor something to meet your requirements. Jazz performance can be very versatile -from as small as a single musician up to as large an ensemble as you want.

These are the four jazz band categories with some ideas for combinations within each:

  • Mainstream. Which can consist of a Solo – pianist or a reed player playing to a backing track; Duo – pianist plus saxophone/clarinet; Trio – pianist plus bass with saxophone or drums; Quartet – pianist sax/clarinet, bass plus drums; and a Quintet – pianist, bass, drums plus two saxophones. A pianist could be replaced with a guitar if preferred and vocalists can be added in to any of the combinations mentioned.
  • Big Band or Swing. Jazz bands in this category are determined by your budget and the size of your venue. A full big band is usually a 17 or 18-piece affair made up of four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, piano, bass and drums plus one or two vocalists. Smaller bands comprise 12 or 13-pieces, with three trumpets, two trombones, four saxophones, piano, bass and drums, again with a vocalist. The very smallest ensemble to still give that Big Band sound is an 8, 9 or 10-piece collection of one or two trumpets, a trombone, two saxophones, piano, bass and drums, and either one or two singers. Smaller ensembles with less brassy volume but still projecting that Big Band entertainment are Trios – piano, bass and drums; Quartets – a trio plus maybe a saxophone or vocalist; Quintets – the trio plus saxophone and vocalist; and  Sextets – trio, plus saxophone and/or trumpet, and male and/or female vocalist(s).
  • Dixieland. Normally six-piece jazz bands for that full Dixieland sound, but they can be five or four-piece for strolling events or processions.