Arts Entertainments

Choose a jazz band for your party

In many years of organizing jazz bands for all kinds of events, I am struck by the similarity in how most of our clients apply.

It goes something like this: “We’re looking for a jazz band to play at our wedding/book launch/family fun day/60th birthday/store opening, etc.” … oh yeah, we say, what style of jazz band?”…”Eh, I’m not too sure. What styles do you have?

It was because of this exchange that I felt this article would be helpful in choosing the right type of jazz band for your party, celebration, or event.

Rather than go through a history of the development of jazz from the point of view of purists, it would be easier to list a number of event types and relate them to jazz band styles with a brief description of jazz band more suitable for the occasion. . Let’s start with the wedding.

Chances are you’ll want a jazz band at your wedding at two times of the day.

The reception. You and your partner have just left the church and your guests are almost back at the place you have chosen for the celebrations. What better way than to receive them with a jazz band.

As champagne and Pimms are passed around, the band just adds a perfect happy backdrop to the moment. There are two main types of jazz bands that can keep up with the times:

A Dixieland band or a swing band.

Dixieland Jazz. This is early twenties jazz. Musicians will happily dress in striped jackets or vests and play charming, upbeat tunes from that era, such as “When the Saints Come Marching In,” “The Charleston,” “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home,” and “Five Foot Two”. blue eyes”. Instrumentation is usually banjo, sousaphone (a tuba you can use) and one or two top-of-the-line instruments like trumpet, sax or trombone. The band is mobile and acoustic and can move around the venue entertaining guests in different places.Artists associated with the genre include Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke and Fats Waller.

swing-jazz. Musician names associated with this style of jazz band are Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. The music is mainly from the late 1930s and early 1940s and is very melodic. Ella Fitzgerald started her career at this time in Harlem and had great success with the band Chick Webb. The jazz band will probably play many songs from the Broadway shows of the time, such as “Funny Valentine”, “It Had to Be You”, “Making Whoopee”, “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”. This jazz band may be acoustic, but it will likely include an electric piano, which the musicians will provide along with a speaker. They will need a power source and the logistics of this must be taken into account when choosing the jazz band. Are your guests near a power source, is the reception indoors or outdoors, what’s the weather like?
predicted look? Finally, how big should the jazz band be? For both styles, a trio or quartet will be fine.

Breakfast after the wedding. Your guests have sat through a gigantic meal, fine wines, and various speeches, including a slightly embarrassing one from the best man! They are ready to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, smoke a cigarette and continue chatting with old friends they may not have seen in a while. They’re not ready to dance yet.. Your jazz band must know this and must play suitable accessible tunes in an understated manner. You don’t want a modern jazz band at this point. Known as Be-Bop, Modern Jazz, West Coast and performed by the likes of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, this is music for the concert hall or jazz club. You want sophisticated smoky melodies, maybe with some vocals like “Let there be love”, “The Girl From Ipanema”, “My Baby Just Cares For Me”. Artists associated with this type of jazz include Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, and Nat King Cole. You might also think of some Rat Pack tunes performed by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Music for dance. If you’re determined to have a jazz band to dance to, ask your jazz band how many styles of jazz and swing they can play. A jazz band that plays swing tune after swing tune all night long will lose the attention of their guests. Variety is the key. I would suggest a mix of Latin music, Jump Jive, swing, old style Rhythm and Blues and even Funky jazz bordering on Soul. Not many jazz bands can handle this variety. Ask at the reservation point what the jazz band proposes to play at this point. Do you have a suitable vocalist/vocalists? Can they play segue (one song after another) to keep the guests on the floor?

My opinion based on many years playing for these types of matches is this. As much as you like Jazz, Swing, call it what you want, at some point in the process someone will want to dance some classic soul or rock and roll. It’s inevitable, it always happens. I see it week after week, year after year. When I have been hired as a trombonist to play in another conductor’s band on such an occasion, it saddens me that the conductor did not foresee such an eventuality. It results in dissatisfied customers and frustrated revelers. Take note if you want a full dance floor!

Next we come to the corporate reception. This manifests itself in many ways. It could be a jazz band for a book launch, a jazz band for an appreciation drink party, a jazz band for a pre-dinner reception. Last year an insurance company asked me for a number of jazz bands that they could play in exchange for bonuses from their employers! We have never seen such happy parties and not a drop of alcohol in the place!

Think about what is being asked of the jazz band in question. The band is asked to reflect something of the company, a sense of fun or sophistication for the event. The focus should be on how you want the band to dress. Tuxedos? Lounge suits? Are your guests networking or being thanked for their year’s business? Most bands that are asked to do this type of work must be impeccably dressed and have a sense of the occasion. They need to appreciate that the guests are there not only to listen to them, but for all kinds of
other reasons. A dinner jazz band in the quiet background sets the right tone for this type of engagement. Loud enough to set the mood but not to drain what may be very important and lucrative conversations! The style of music will be Bossa Nova, light swing and Lounge. In my experience, a quartet or quintet is a perfectly sized band. Voices are unnecessary and can distract your guests.

store openings. Every year we open or reopen a number of supermarkets, computer stores, video and dvd stores across the country. The jazz band has always been a visual and sound part of the promotion. The jazz band in question tends to be a Dixieland trio or quartet. They are perfect being, as we read above, acoustic and mobile. The music is upbeat and uplifting and with a sense of fun. The jazz band dresses in striped suits, which help set the mood for the day.

corporate entertainment. This is a broad term and covers anything from Henley, Ascot, car racing, as well as themed events in spectacular settings. The Dixieland band is perfect for the almost vintage feel of Henley and the swing band works just as effectively. Think “Dixieland Jazz Band” for a happy, energetic and fun image. “Swing jazz band for a more sophisticated, laid-back, laid-back vibe. Do you want your guests to dance? This can be quite rare. Decision makers tend not to break into bop frenzy in the middle of the afternoon! However, if family members have been invited, this is quite common.A Latin Jazz band can be very effective in this situation and it’s hard to ignore the infectious beats.

A note of caution. Is your event for various dignitaries and celebrities? If so, they won’t want to be photographed by the jazz band or even have the jazz band talk to them. You need a band with a certain discretion or, dare I say it, a certain indifferent approach to the world of celebrity. As a musician, I come across stars of stage and screen, royalty, politicians, public figures and minor soap opera stars every month and I think it’s appreciated when you give them a certain amount of space and don’t ogle them. Use a jazz band that is used to playing for such audiences. They need to be sociable, eloquent, graceful and not fazed when a familiar face approaches them!

Time for a summary:
1. Choose the jazz band from the perspective of what is required of them. Do you want background music or do you want to dance?

2. How many guests do you have? Is the band the correct size? Are you dressed correctly?

3. Is the band outside? Do you have access to power? Can they play acoustically if needed?

4. What melodies can they play? Ask them for a list of directories, do you recognize the . Titles?

5. Are they professionals? This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of musicians out there who have retired from full-time work or are between jobs and are turning their hobby into a source of income. How long have they worked as professionals? Who have they played with in the past? What experience do they have performing for the type of event you are having?

6. Request a sample CD. How is your advertising? You need to be sure that you are getting reliable professional equipment that will show up early enough, look good, fully cooperate with your needs, and play the right music. The right jazz band can make your party, the wrong one can spoil it to a greater or lesser degree.

7. Are they flexible? You don’t want to find out in the middle of a dance that the band you’ve booked can only play one style of jazz. Ask them when you are considering reserving them. Can you play some Classic Soul? Can you do some Latin tunes? Don’t be fooled by “We do a little of everything” Ask them for a playlist.

8. Discuss a rider with the gang. Are you providing refreshments for the jazz band? Although refreshments are not expected, they are greatly appreciated, especially if the band is on location for a while without access to food and drink. If it’s not convenient, don’t worry. If the jazz band knows in advance, they can make their own arrangements.

9. Have you articulated to the band what kind of music you want to hear? Don’t worry if you have no knowledge of jazz. Tell the jazz bandleader or agent what tunes you like and what artists you like. This will give the leader/agent an excellent idea of ​​which bands to recommend. Look through your CD collection for ideas; Ask friends and family for suggestions. When the jazz band shows up, you’ll be properly informed and able to put on the performance you want.