While there is no standard instrumentation for the jazz big band as it was heard during the swing era and after (1930s to the present), the presence of certain instruments is fairly predictable. At the core of a band's rhythm section will be the piano, double bass or electric bass, and drum set; an electric guitar is also often included in this section. The wind component of a big band consists of three sections: the saxophones (usually three to five players with various combinations of alto, tenor and baritone saxes and with some of the players doubling on flutes and clarinets); the trombones (typically three or four players, one of whom specializes on the bass trombone); and the trumpets (three to five players, some doubling on flugelhorn). Extra percussion and further wind instruments are found in different bands or called for in individual compositions.

Jazz big bands are found in many secondary school and tertiary (college, university, conservatory) music programs in the United States. A number of amateur big bands have been founded in communities around the country, and there are several fully profession big bands that play in clubs and concert halls throughout the cosmopolitan world and that release commercial recordings. 


Collier, James Lincoln. “Bands,” in Grove Music Online. Accessed December 6 2014: http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/J024300#J024313


(by Roger Vetter)