Jazz is one of the most popular types of music played at different events, mainly because of its broad range of appeal for people of all ages. Almost anyone can appreciate jazz music, and best of all, it can fit almost any occasion, from weddings to birthdays to anniversaries to corporate events. Jazz can be soft and smooth, or upbeat and energetic; it can play softly in the background or be the centerpiece of an event; and it can come in a number of ensembles, involving different numbers of musicians as well as varying instruments. Here are some of your options when it comes to types of jazz ensembles to use for your event (any ensemble can include a singer as well):
Several types of jazz trios exist; one of the most common includes a bass player, a piano player, and a drummer; there are also several types of “drummer-less” trios, such as one that has a piano player, a double bassist, and a horn (which can be a saxophone or a trumpet) or guitar player. Trios that include a horn player, double bass player and a drummer involve more improvisation than the others, mainly because the lack of a piano (which provides chords) requires the horn player and bassist to take on the task of creating the changing harmonies.
If you’re looking for a jazz combo that includes slightly more variation in tone and harmony than a trio, a jazz quartet may be just the ensemble for you. This type of combo generally adds a horn, which includes saxophones, trombones, trumpets, and any other wind or brass instrument that can be used for jazz music, to one of the other jazz trios. These ensembles are generally louder and a bit more complicated than trios, and thus are better as centerpieces of events than as background music.
Larger jazz ensembles can vary greatly; for example, you can start with quintets and sextets, which have five and six instruments respectively, by adding instruments such as different types of saxophones to a quintet or adding an extra chordal instrument (such as a piano). Even larger ensembles, such as a 1920s-style Dixieland jazz band, add a banjo player, woodwind instruments (such as the clarinet), or additional horns (such as saxophones, trumpets, trombones) to one of the trios, quartets, quintets, or sextets described above.
Other types of larger jazz bands include a 1940s-style Swing or “big band” ensemble, which creates “sections” of similar instruments, such as a saxophone section and a trumpet section, that can perform pre-arranged lines in harmony to create a louder and generally more impactful sound. Alternatively, to create a 1970s-style jazz fusion ensemble, one can add additional percussionists to one of the combos described above. Sometimes, a saxophone player that can “double” or “triple” (meaning that they can play the clarinet, flute, or both) is also added, as are additional solo instruments such as the saxophone or jazz guitar.
Large ensembles are generally meant to be a noticeable performance; for example, you could schedule a performance by this band partway through your event in order to provide people with a chance to take a breath and enjoy some great music or to mingle over discussing the music with each other. Such jazz bands are large, noticeable and particularly enjoyable because of these qualities, especially since you can pick what era of jazz appeals to you most and arrange an ensemble around it.