How to Start a Jazz Blues Band

Jazz and blues are very distinct genres of music. Although both genres have been expanded in many ways by various artists, there are standard styles of composition and performance that distinguish them from any other genre. Additionally, both genres are steeped in tradition and have been around for a very long time. Depending on the type of jazz blues band that is desired, there is a wide variety of existing songs that can be used as a starting point when putting a combo together. It will also depend on the size of the band desired and the target audience.

Decide on the range of songs that will be included in the repertoire. Do research into jazz and blues artists who play both styles, such as Art Blakey, Billy Eckstine, Charles Brown, and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and especially the masters from the early days, such as Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Listen to as many recordings of each genre as possible. This will train the ear for what sounds most appropriate for a jazz blues band, and will help in choosing music and musicians.

Find musicians who can play the songs selected. Look for sax players, trumpet players, pianists, drummers, guitarists, and bassists who demonstrate an ability to play both styles. Go to live music venues to find competent players, or seek advice from musician unions, online forums, or websites that provide online musician referral services.

Interview any players that seem to fit the goal, letting them know what the goal for the band is and asking such questions as their availability, their income requirements, and their own goals. Set up auditions--either for individual players, or in group settings for a better idea of how they will play together--and single out the ones who will work out best.

Begin to develop the repertoire once the musicians are selected. Choose songs that suit the styles and skill levels of the musicians for best results. Rehearse as often as schedules allow to fine tune the band. Once the set list of songs is sufficient and the sound is good, the jazz blues band will be ready to perform.

Approved by Jesse Anderson