Much like classical music, jazz ensembles are made up of any number of musicians. And just as in classical, you’ll find duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, septets and octets… Then there are larger combinations, such as big bands and jazz orchestras.


A traditional jazz band will likely feature piano (or keyboard, or electric organ), double bass and percussion – often in the form of a drum kit.

The percussionist might have much more than a drum kit to hand – a vibraphone, for example. They’ll play with a variety of implements, too, from drumsticks to brushes. Many jazz combos will also include brass and wind instruments, like a trumpet or saxophone.

The bass and percussion take care of the rhythm, while the piano and brass look after the melody and harmony.

There are all kinds of iterations and variations, of course, and it will depend on the style of jazz the band is playing. Guitar, harmonica, trombone, the human voice… you name it, it’s been in a jazz band.

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