Hire a jazz band to add a stylish and classy atmosphere to your event. Cool jazz bands, smooth jazz singers, swing bands, rat pack, latin, salsa bands and even full-sized big bands are available. Our jazz bands come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Whether you want a sophisticated jazz trio for a drinks reception, or a larger ensemble to get your guests on the dance floor, we can provide that touch of sparkle and glamour to your event.
Is a Jazz Band the right band?
Jazz can be exciting, relaxing, foot-tapping and fun. And because it’s about a hundred years old, Jazz has had plenty of time to grow in all kinds of directions. As a result there’s no one kind of Jazz and there’s no one kind of Jazz Band. So before you decide whether a jazz band’s good for your event, and which of our great artists to choose, we will explain the various styles available to you...
Traditional & Dixieland Jazz
Jazz started in the southern USA, the musicians playing the only instruments they could get hold of – leftovers from military bands. Right from the start the bands had around 6 members and this is still true today, the most common line-up being Trumpet, Trombone, Sax/Clarinet, Guitar/Banjo, Bass & Drums plus optional Keys. Sometimes the horn players sang or the band might have had a dedicated vocalist. Popular dance crazes of the 20s such as the Jitterbug and Charleston were made popular by these early bands, and their music is still played all over the world. You might have heard of Traditional Jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber or Humphrey Littleton. These guys all play Jazz in the classic style – just right for an upbeat party with lots of atmosphere, sing-along tunes and happy feet!
Check out this video of the most famous Trad jazz player in action, the great Louis Armstrong...
For great Trad jazz for your event take a look at these bands...
Swing is a jazz style that was popular in the dance halls of the 30s and 40s – just ask your Gran! Another American import, this style was typified by bands such as those led by Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw. It’s hard to believe now, but the popular music charts of the day were full of large jazz orchestras of 12, 16 or more musicians playing songs which have since become standards: In The Mood, Begin the Beguine and A Foggy Day in London Town for example. Recent artists such as Robbie Williams and Jamie Cullum have picked up swing music and it still grabs your feet and makes them want to dance to great tunes you know and love.
Here is a great video of Glenn Miller's swinging band playing 'In The Mood'...
DG Tip: You don’t need a big band to enjoy Swing music. Many smaller bands that play Trad also play Swing Era music. This means that you get more for your money! Some old school New Orleans stomp, some Air Raid favourites and modern interpretations of classic songs can all appear in the set lists of our favourite jazz artists. As we say, “It’s your gig…”
Wanna swing? These are the bands you need...
By the 1950s popular jazz had long ago left behind its sleazy speakeasy origins and become the height of night club sophistication. These were the Rat Pack days! Las Vegas was the place and Sinatra was the face. With sidekicks Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr., Frank Sinatra changed the face of the casinos of Las Vegas forever and with it the world of popular music. And the trend continues today with artists such as Michael Bublé and Harry Connick Jnr. filling clubs and theatres everywhere.
With bands ranging in size and complexity from a quartet to a full scale jazz orchestra, Rat Pack style music can fit into any venue and create that luxurious Vegas feel in moments. As Gregory Peck said: "With his little gang of merry men, Sinatra established forever a sense of free-floating fun and frolic that captured the imagination of the world.” And if free-floating fun and frolic is what you’re looking for, Rat Pack style is for you.
Hot nights. The excitement of Carnival. The sounds, seduction and sense of South America! When Jazz took the steamer to Brazil and Cuba in the 40s and 50s it absorbed all the warmth and energy of those cultures to produce some of the most exciting and romantic music ever heard. The Samba. The Bossa Nova. The Tango. The Mambo. These Latin Jazz styles took the world by storm. And when they merged with rock & funk in the 1970s, Salsa was born. Wow! Hot and Funky! Who could resist?
From soft, slow grooves perfect for cocktails, dinner and after, to pulsating rhythms which drive dancers wild and hot, Latin has it all. And if you add the essential mystery and tempo from the Gypsy Jazz tradition of artists like legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt to the mix, you’ve got everything you need for the perfect evening.
Check out this video of our Cuban style band Cuarteto Cubana...
DG Tip: Latin jazz comes in all shapes and sizes from a big band in full cry to an intimate trio or duo playing quiet background music for corporate and reception style gigs. Latin music can be gentle, smooth or hot. It can dance and romance – the choice is yours. And if you’re not sure what’s best for you, DG Music has the best advice around.
50's & Jive
The 50s was a jazz melting pot from which flowed a host of jazz styles. The straight four beat of early Dixieland merged with Latin rhythms, big band, syncopated swing and blues to release Jive on an unsuspecting world. This music was picked up by the kids, who turned themselves into teenagers and the world’s dance halls went Cool Cat crazy. At the same time, singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Patti Page and Doris Day were doing their thing alongside Perry Como, Pat Boone and Bing Crosby, and everyone came to love both the alley cat strut and the crooner’s smile.
These jazz artists aimed at glamour, excitement and getting’ the whole joint jumpin’. Dances like the Madison, the Lindy, the Bunny Hop and the Twist were popular with teens on both sides of the Atlantic. But it wasn’t all jump n jive. Some things never change, and slow dancing, smooching and swaying to the sounds of a 50s cool jazz combo were also popular. So if jump & jive, croon & moon is what you’re looking for – all in one place. Go for a 50s & Jive band and you can’t go wrong.
Cool & Smooth Jazz
Right from the beginning Jazz music took root and grew in clubs, restaurants, hotels and bars. So if your gig’s a wedding reception, dinner or corporate event, don’t forget that all of jazz artists can play it cool as well as hot. Reflecting the music of Nat King Cole, Chet Baker and groups like The Modern Jazz Quartet and Dave Brubeck’s Quartet, jazz musicians have for years helped to create that sophisticated ambiance which more intimate settings demand.
DG Tip: Styles such as Dinner jazz, Cool jazz and Smooth jazz involve smaller ensembles and can be purely instrumental or involve a vocalist. Many of these types of band offer variations in their line-up, so you can tailor the music to your requirements and ensure the precise atmosphere your event needs.
Wrapping it up...
We’ve just taken a snapshot of the history of jazz up to the late 1950s – but what happened next? Well… Jazz gave birth to Rock ‘n Roll and the rest is history! And the parents of this wayward Rock child? They went crazy and jazz spawned a whole menagerie of children. Free jazz, be-bop, cool jazz, west coast, modern jazz, mainstream, acid jazz, jazz-rock fusion, jazz funk, nu jazz – an explosion of free expression and improvisation burst on the scene and into the ears of any who’d listen. An art form born out of poverty is now a major force in global music making.
Every major city in the world has a jazz scene – and lots of small ones too. A rough count reveals nearly six hundred major jazz festivals world-wide every year. And each week millions of professional and amateur musicians turn out and play gigs. Many regions such as Scandinavia, Germany, the UK, Japan and Africa have developed their own style of jazz – and all of this grown from a seed planted by a few former slaves in the southern United States around hundred years ago.
Impressive – but potentially confusing for a jazz newbie. Ok. So just remember this: all jazz has one thing in common – Jazz is largely improvised, in real-time, as you watch and listen. The music is being created especially for you, your guests and your event. What you’re hearing will never be heard exactly the same again. The music is just for you; which makes each gig unique and special.
The passion, creative skill and love of Jazz which the performers project across the footlights and into the room. They have a desire to entertain and delight listeners and party goers with their music. They don’t play because they have to. The play because they need to. They play because they’re having fun and want you to join in. Regardless of the style, the size of the band or the type of gig they’re booked to play, Jazz musicians have a passion for the variety and artistry of their music. That’s why it’s hard to pin down exactly what a Jazz Band is. And that’s why we’re here to help you choose exactly which band you need!
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