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The Complete Jazz Band Booking Guide for 2021 | Tips, Guide Prices and FAQs

The Complete Jazz Band Booking Guide for 2021 | Tips, Guide Prices and FAQs

With its unwavering popularity, jazz music has become firmly ingrained in modern culture. From its humble roots in African-American communities across Southern America to its peak in the Jazz Age of the 1920s and early 1930s, jazz has expanded across the world to form a multitude of sub-genres.

If you're looking to incorporate jazz into your event but aren't quite sure where to start, you've come to the right place. In our booking guide, we'll be looking at every aspect of hiring a jazz band, including typical costs, line-ups, playlists and the various styles on offer. We'll also go through the general booking process as well as logistics and band requirements.

If you want to get started straight away, head on over to our jazz and swing band section. Here you'll find a whole array of versatile jazz musicians to choose from, including jazz trios and swing bands for wedding music and corporate entertainment.

What styles of jazz are there to choose from?

There are numerous sub-genres of jazz, but most jazz bands tend to fall into one of the following categories:

Jazz Standards Bands

The majority of jazz musicians perform in small line-ups to form a jazz trio or quartet, performing well-known jazz songs known as Jazz Standards. 

Regularly featured in film, media, advertising and musicals, these jazz standards will be familiar to even the most novice listener - Think 'Fly Me To The Moon', 'Mack The Knife and 'Come Fly With Me' to name but a few.

Jazz Standards can either be performed as instrumental jazz pieces or with a jazz vocalist. 

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Gypsy Jazz Bands

Also known as 'Jazz Manouche', Gypsy jazz was originally introduced to Europe by Django Reinhardt in the early 1930s and remains a firm favourite in the wedding and events industry. 

Gypsy jazz bands perform a unique style of jazz predominantly focused on acoustic guitars and violins as opposed to the more conventional piano and saxophone-led line-ups.

Post-modern Jukebox style bands

With the rise-to-fame of American jazz collective 'Post-Modern Jukebox' along with famous Hollywood movies such as The Great Gatsby and La La Land, jazz and swing has seen a fresh resurgence over the past ten years. 

Reworking popular modern songs into a unique jazz and swing style, Post-Modern Jukebox style bands offer the very best of contemporary and vintage, making them the perfect choice for vintage-inspired weddings and events.

Dixieland jazz / Traditional jazz

Traditional jazz, also known as Dixieland Jazz, is based around African American/New Orleans ragtime to create an uplifting percussive sound that's perfect for daytime drinks receptions.

Featuring a combination of trumpet, trombone, banjo, tuba and clarinet, Dixieland jazz bands are both unique and versatile.

Big Band

Featuring horns and a rhythm section, Big Bands were often fronted by crooner vocalists such as Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack creating a sound that's familiar to audiences of all ages.

Many jazz bands offer mini Big Band line-ups, recreating the Big Band sound with seven or eight musicians.

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How many musicians are there in a jazz band?

Jazz ensembles generally range from small duos and trios to swing bands of eight or more members. Most jazz bands are highly flexible with their line-ups, giving you the option to increase or decrease the number of musicians based on your budget, venue requirement and musical preferences.

A typical jazz trio might often include piano, double bass and drums with the option of additional sax, trumpet or vocals. Below are some common line-ups you'll come across:

  • Jazz Duo: Piano, Sax
  • Jazz Duo: Piano, Double Bass
  • Gypsy Jazz Duo: 2 x Acoustic Guitars
  • Jazz Trio: Piano, Double Bass, Drums
  • Jazz Trio: Vocals, Piano, Double Bass
  • Gypsy Jazz Trio: 2 x Acoustic Guitars, Violin or Double Bass
  • Jazz Quartet: Vocals, Piano, Double Bass, Drums
  • Jazz Quartet: Vocals, Piano, Double Bass, Drums
  • 7-piece Swing Band (Mini Big Band): Vocals, Piano, Double Bass, Drums, Trumpet, Trombone, Sax 
Dixieland jazz band hire

What type of events are jazz bands suitable for, and when do they usually perform?

With their flexibility, jazz bands are a fantastic choice for a wide range of events, most often booked as live background music for afternoon drinks receptions and early evening entertainment.

With the rise in popularity of Post-modern Jukebox style bands, larger swing bands are also a firm favourite for evening wedding entertainment, performing an eclectic repertoire of music to appeal to guests of all ages.

Jazz bands are suitable for any of the following events:

  • Wedding drinks reception
  • Wedding breakfast
  • Corporate drinks reception
  • Store opening
  • Product launch
  • Award ceremony
  • Christmas works party
  • Charity events
  • Jazz festivals

What time do jazz bands arrive, and how long does it take to set up?

Most musicians tend to arrive at functions an hour before their performance allowing sufficient time to set up their gear, tune their instruments and change their attire.

Set up usually takes no longer than 30 minutes or so, depending on the line-up. Jazz musicians often perform through their own individual amplifiers rather than a large PA, especially for background music.

For evening performances featuring a vocalist, you'll usually need to allow about an hour to set up.

How long does a jazz band play for?

Most jazz bands will quote to perform two sets of 45/60 minutes with a short break between sets. This can always be extended to suit your needs, so always try to include full details of your event when making enquiries.

How much does it cost to hire a jazz band?

As a ballpark figure, you might expect to pay between £175 - £200 per jazz musician for a jazz band based in your local area.

As with all musicians and entertainers, hire prices can vary drastically depending on the travelling distance and amount of time at the venue.

How far in advance should I book a jazz band?

If you want to have the pick of the crop, we recommend booking a jazz band at least 6-12 months in advance to avoid disappointment.

For weekday events, you can afford to book a little closer to the date - we usually suggest at least three months in advance.

jazz band booked to perform outside

Can a Jazz band perform outside?

Jazz bands are usually happy to perform outside but may specify that cover is provided to protect their equipment. In addition to this, most jazz bands with amplification will also require a power supply.

How much space does a jazz band need?

Very little! A jazz band can squeeze into the smallest of spaces, reducing drum kits to a minimal set-up if required. We recommend about a meter width per musician but always ask if space at your venue is limited.

What are the most popular jazz songs?

There are hundreds of famous jazz standards to choose from, which most jazz bands will already have in their repertoire. Below are some of the most popular jazz songs:

  • Frank Sinatra - Come Fly With Me
  • Etta James - At Last
  • Frank Sinatra - Have You Met Miss Jones
  • Duke Ellington - Take The A Train
  • Van Morrison – Moondance
  • Cole Porter - I Get A Kick Out Of You
  • Nina Simone - Feeling Good
  • Ella Fitzgerald - Cry Me A River
  • Nat King Cole - Let There Be Love
  • Frank Sinatra - It Had To Be You
  • The Jungle Book - King Of The Swingers
  • Frank Sinatra - Fly Me To The Moon
  • Duke Ellington - Caravan
  • Bobby Darin - Mack The Knife
  • Irving Berlin - Cheek To Cheek
  • Nat King Cole - L O V E
  • Duke Ellington - It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing
  • Ray Charles – Georgia
  • Ella Fitzgerald - My Funny Valentine
  • The Jungle Book - The Bare Necessities
  • Irving Berlin - Puttin' On The Ritz
  • Fats Waller - Ain't Misbehaving
  • Django Reinhardt - Sweet Georgia Brown
  • Frank Sinatra - I've Got You Under My Skin
  • Sammy Davis Jr - Mr Bojangles
  • Django Reinhardt - Minor Swing
  • Ella Fitzgerald - A Foggy Day
  • Dinah Washington - What A Difference A Day Makes
  • Take Five - Dave Brubeck
  • Dean Martin - Sway
  • Louis Armstrong - Jeepers Creepers
  • Tony Bennett - The Lady is a Tramp
  • Frank Sinatra - New York New York

Can I request songs not already in the repertoire?

In general, most jazz musicians will be happy to take on any jazz standards from The Great American Songbook. If you'd like your band to learn a modern song, we recommend asking the band prior to booking to check. 

It's worth remembering that Gypsy jazz bands and post-modern Jukebox style bands perform a very specific style of music and so may be more limited with the songs they're able to arrange and learn.

How do I book a jazz band?

At Bands For Hire, we've made hiring a jazz band a straight-froward process. Simply drop us an enquiry through the band's profile page and we'll come back to you with confirmation on price and availability. 

From here, a member of our team will be happy to answer any queries you may have. Once you're ready to go ahead, we'll put together a contract that can be signed online, along with a deposit that can be paid by card or bank transfer.