We get many calls for jazz and the caller is often confused about how to ask for a jazz group. I wrote this article to help solve that problem. It’s pretty simple once you know where the confusion lies.
Let’s get into the many styles of jazz that are available. Are you talking about The Great American Songbook , those classic jazz standards performed by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and, more recetly by Michael Buble and Diana Krall. Or are you referring to Smooth Jazz, a pop/jazz style made famous by Kenny G, George Benson and Grover Washington. Smooth jazz
is not really jazz at all, in the truest sense of the word, except that it uses improvisation. Smooth jazz is really instrumental pop music so that requires a very different jazz musician and even different instrumentation. Many people that grew up in the 30-50′s want yet another style of jazz for their events. When they say the word JAZZ they are referring to the popular dance music of their time also known as SWING MUSIC. That would be Big Band Jazz and Jazz Swing
. Groups like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, and Woody Herman.Now let’s talk about all the styles of jazz we can play for you. Ragtime, Blues, Dixieland, Hot Jazz, Society Jazz, Jazz Swing (or Big Band Music), Bebop, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, Progressive jazz, Third Stream, Free Jazz, Jazz, Bossa Nova, Latin Jazz, Cuban Latin Jazz, Fusion Jazz, Neo Classical Jazz,Afro-Cuban Jazz, Calypso, Chamber Jazz, Continental Jazz, Ethno Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Jazz Blues, Jazz Funk, Jazz Rock, R&B Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Kansas City Jazz, Mainstream Jazz,Neo-Bop Swing, Nu Jazz, Post Bop, Soul Jazz, Straight-ahead Jazz, Urban Jazz, West Coast Gypsy Jazz and probably a few more that I left out.So you can see here that it really takes some time to discuss and find out what is jazz to the person that is looking for a “good” jazz band. The first questions we ask are: do you want to be able to dance to it or is it just going to be used for listening? Is it background music or is more of a concert? What styles of jazz do you like to listen to? Are you a fan of Frank Sinatra jazz or are you more of a Micheal Bluble fan? Maybe you like Miles Davis and the cool school of jazz, although Miles did many many styles throughout his career so are you talking about early Miles when he was doing more jazz standards or are you talking about the later bebop, cool school or jazz fusion or Jazz Hiphop. We occasionally will get someone that wants the “real jazz”, that usually means that the person wants a jazz band that does jazz standards. Not the Great American Songbook standards but the music of Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, etc.
Others like “Frank Sinatra Jazz” which means anything from the Big Band Era to the 50′s jazz swing.
That style includes all of the jazz standards from the American Songbook.
Someone that listens to the Smooth Jazz radio will probably be looking for a band that does lots of R&B Jazz as well as latin jazz and even some of the American Songbook standards, but in a slightly more modern pop style.
So you can see that it can be very confusing for the music agency to know what you want when you use the word Jazz. it’s very important that you are clear about the style of jazz that you like because the music agency will need to know to be able to hook you up with the “right” jazz musicians playing on the correct instruments in the style you have in mind.
If you need further help, call us at 818-902-1233. We can play samples of all the various styles of jazz bands you are looking for.
If you would like assistance booking live entertainment or DJ services for your next event please call our office at 818-902-1233