Want to get your toes tapping at your wedding or party with a jazz band but don't know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, complete with tips and inside knowledge from some of our top bands. To discuss booking a jazz band with our team, simply email [email protected].
What are the different types of jazz?
Jazz is a wide label and most jazz bands can play a range that includes vintage swing, ragtime, Dixieland, big band, and even soul, Motown, and contemporary pop covers with a vintage twist.
Not sure what style you want? Start by checking out the videos in this blog and if you're hungry for more, go to Encore's jazz band page and listen to different bands' audio/video clips and get ideas of which styles you like. You can even filter by location to find bands near you!
How many people are in a jazz band?
Band sizes range from trios to a full 20-person band. Most groups can be flexible about the size in order to suit your budget.
How much space does a jazz band need?
A quartet would need around 3x3m, or roughly the size of a Volkgswagen Beetle.
A nine-person band would need around 5x4 meters, or a bit bigger than two Volkswagen Beetles.
What equipment do I need to provide?
The band will need enough electrical sockets (usually one per person) to hook up all the amplification equipment. They may also need chairs without arms.
Do I need a PA system?
Most jazz bands will bring their own amps, but they may be able to use the venue's PA system.
Do I need to provide food?
Musicians will appreciate bottled water and tea/coffee/biscuits upon arrival. Meals are always welcome, though generally not required unless your event is at dinnertime.
Can a jazz band play outside?
Yes, as long as the weather is warm enough and adequate shelter (a gazebo or marquee that completely covers the group) and a power source is provided. Be sure to tell the musicians if they are expected to play outside as it will affect their preparations!
What dress code can I expect?
Jazz bands will usually dress to suit the style of the music - cocktail dresses or gowns for the ladies, and smart suits/tuxes for the men.
Do I need to provide a keyboard?
Most jazz ensembles can provide their own keyboards but may be able to use the house piano or keyboard, so long as it is in good repair.
How long will the jazz band play for?
Bands usually play 2 x 45 minute sets with a 15 minute break between sets.
Do I need to provide parking?
Yes, unless the band specifies otherwise, as they will generally have a lot of kit to transport. If there is no parking near the door, they must be able to unload and then move the car.
How long does setup and soundcheck take?
Roughly an hour for a quartet and about 90 minutes total for a 9-piece band.
-Charlie Bates, Jazz Time
What are the five most popular tunes?
Our top jazz bands says these five tunes are guaranteed to put some fizz into your event:
At Last - Etta James
My Baby Just Cares For Me - Nina Simone
It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing - Duke Ellington
Fly Me to the Moon - famously sung by Frank Sinatra
Take Five - Dave Brubeck
Can the jazz band play my favourite song?
Absolutely! Ensembles love adding new pieces to their repertoire, and if they can’t find an arrangement, will often tailor one themselves for your event. This may add an additional fee to your booking, but is well worth the extra expense to hear your favourite song played in a new and exciting way.
Can the band take requests?
Many bands, especially the more experienced ones, will know a huge amount of tunes and can happily take requests.
Remember that even if a band will specialises in a certain genre, most will have versatile musicians who can play in more than one style.
How far in advance should I book?
We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests, but we handle last-minute bookings all the time at Encore and can easily find a jazz band at short notice.
What's the typical price for a jazz band?
Each band will set their own rates, but a fee of around £200/person for two hours of playing is a roughly standard amount.
Do I have to pay travel fees/porterage?
You may have to factor in travel costs if the band is not local. Most musicians have a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and charge extra for any travel outside that area. We have jazz bands all over the country, so we can usually find someone close to your location.
The standard rate is 47p/mile per person so if the band needs to travel 50 miles each way, that's an additional £47/person for 100 miles of travel. This amount is included as a rough guide - each band will set their own fees.
Because there is so much equipment to carry, bands will usually charge a porterage fee to cover the delivery and setup. Some groups will quote porterage and travel separately from their own fee while others will simply charge a lump sum.
How do I handle contracts and payment?
The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is extremely straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your chosen band, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure payments system. To discuss booking a jazz band, please email [email protected].
Hopefully this guide answers all of your questions! If you have more questions about jazz bands, email us at [email protected] and we'd be more than happy to help.
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