"BUT I'VE NEVER

DIRECTED A JAZZ 

BAND BEFORE"

by
Todd E. Hill
Jazz Band Director
Northwest Mississippi Community College

(Unedited version of the article "Advice for New Jazz Directors" that appeared in The Instrumentalist, Jan. 2001) 


Introduction

Jazz education is still in its infancy. As much progress as has been made, most colleges and universities do not have a required (or even elective) course for jazz education for their instrumental music education majors. It is often a requirement of the instrumental music educator (with little or no jazz experience) to direct the school jazz ensemble. There is no way to address every situation, but it is my hope that the following information will be helpful to the experienced and inexperienced music educator in the jazz field. 

Why should we have Jazz Bands?

There are several reasons that any instrumental program should have a jazz unit. Jazz is the one truly American art form that is recognized and respected throughout the world. A jazz band gives the students an opportunity to express themselves by playing individual parts and learning improvisation. Improvisational skills improve basic musicianship through practice and advanced theoretical knowledge. Playing in a jazz band stresses advanced skills in rhythm reading, gives increased range and articulation challenges and serves as a great public relations tool with your school and the community at large. 

Music Selection

Year after year of being a festival clinician and adjudicator, I find that many directors are struggling to pick appropriate material for their students. Although these guidelines may seem simplistic, I feel that they should be stated.

Select standards, jazz standards and originals for your jazz band library - not current "pop" hits. "Pop" hits will be used for a season, but standards can be "recycled" in a few years. Another consideration is that the students should be exposed to the standard repertoire. And besides, how many pop tunes of the past twenty years have gone on to become standards?

Mix styles on a program - a good basic guideline is to use two swing tunes to each ballad, latin or rock number. Most reputable music catalogs are divided this way and even by difficulty level. Always remember to pick performance and festival pieces that show off the strengths, not weaknesses of your particular group. 

Many groups that play exceptionally well give very boring or lack-luster performances because of poor planning on behalf of the director. A printed program is always a plus, and the director should program the concert so as not to have three ballads in a row! Use discrimination in ordering your concert - save a big tune for last (preferably one the students like to play) and always open with an attention grabber! Don't worry so much about the length of the program. However, it is much better to pick a concert of eight or nine technically easier pieces played in the correct style than to perform three or four pieces of a higher difficulty level, spending time working on notes rather than style. 

Instrumentation and problem-solving

All jazz band directors have had to deal with instrumentation problems at some point in their career. Following are some suggestions for dealing with most situations.

        - Do not "double" parts; a primary reason for having a jazz band
           is to have students playing individual parts. To be inclusive,
           add a second section or rotate parts.

In general, jazz band instrumentation should be as follows:

        5 Saxophones (2 altos, 2 tenors, baritone)
        4 or 5 Trumpets
        4 or 5 Trombones (3 or 4 tenors, bass)
        Piano
        Guitar
        Bass (electric or acoustic)
        Drums
        Auxiliary Percussion (vibes/latin percussion) 

There are many ways to effectively work with problem instrumentations. Saxophones are often numerous in today's band programs, but sometimes players are not easily available. For jazz bands with smaller saxophone sections, the following often work fairly well (although not as well as a full section playing all parts):

        For 3 saxophones - use alto 1, alto 2 and tenor 1
        For 4 saxophones - use alto 1, alto 2, tenor 1 and baritone

If you do not have enough good saxophonists to put together a full section you can always raid the top of your concert band clarinet section. Remember that the basic fingering patterns of the clarinet over the break are very close to the saxophone, and clarinet "cross-overs" make great "section" players (2nd alto, 2nd tenor and sometimes even baritone!). For conversions, it is easiest to start with a concert-type mouthpiece (a Selmer C*) and a relatively soft reed. Give them a few rudimentary lessons in proper tone production, a good beginning method book or two with fingering charts and a few weeks notice. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results and your students will too!

With brass sections, you can easily get by with three in each section, although it is preferable to have the full instrumentation (more on that later).

        For 3 trumpets - use parts 1, 2 and 3
        For 3 trombones - use parts 1, 2 and 4 (bass)

All of these solutions may need your help when you find the third missing from the scored chord! When you are presented with this situation, just take out the fifth or octave doubling and add the third.

It is better by far to use a synthesized bass or a tuba playing the written bass part down an octave than to attempt to have a jazz band with no bass at all! Bear in mind that the bass is your primary time-keeper (not the drummer). Never attempt to use a tuba and a bass at the same time! It is a very frustrating experience for both players and the timing leaves much to be desired as the reaction time is so different for each instrument. I have seen a very young group use a tuba effectively by placing a microphone in the bell and then running that through a bass amplifier.

Many persons with younger groups enjoy creating a "lab band" situation that includes players of instruments outside the standard jazz band instrumentation. To create your own "lab band" charts (which are exceedingly difficult to find) you can use the following guidelines:

            - flutes and mallet percussion double lead trumpet part
            - clarinets double alto sax 1 and 2
            - french horns double trumpet 4 (depending on range) or trombone 1
            - baritones or euphoniums double trombone 3 or 4

ALL OF THESE DOUBLINGS WILL REQUIRE TRANSPOSITION

Equipment needs

The equipment needs of a jazz band as opposed to a marching or concert band are indeed minimal. Here are the absolute necessities:

        -You will need a small p.a. system with 8 channels, 8 microphones and microphone stands (this will allow for amplifying 5 saxophones, a solo microphone for brass          instruments, a microphone for the piano and a microphone for announcements and/or   vocals)

        -A drum set with 14"snare, 20"bass, 12" mounted tom and 16" floor tom is perfectly adequate. If you can splurge a bit, do it with some top-line cymbals. A set of first class cymbals will really improve the sound of your rhythm section as well as that of the band as a whole. Some suggested cymbal sizes: 14" hi-hats, 16" crash, 18" ride, 20" sizzle, and, if you have the money, an 18" ride-crash.

        -An electric piano is acceptable if the real thing is not available or practical. Many professionals and educators use the Roland FP8 - it has the action "feel" of a real piano and has a good (for an electronic) sound.

        -You will want to have an electric bass (and/or an acoustic bass) along with a hollow-body style guitar and amplifiers for each. Purchase and have method books available for the students as well as a Chord Encyclopedia (Mel Bay is fine).

        -Purchase at least one fluegelhorn for coloration and solo use. Don't go "cheap" or you'll regret the intonation problems. A section of them for the trumpets is nice to have, but it is not necessary.

        -A bass trombone will improve the tonal quality of your trombone section immeasurably. A double-rotor model is preferable, but a single-rotor will be adequate for most easy, intermediate and somewhat advanced material.

        -Create a reading and listening library of jazz for your students. Read everything you can get your hands on regarding jazz. The following books are absolute necessities for reference and use by students (teacher, too!):

The Making of Jazz

James Lincoln Collier

Reading Jazz  

Robert Gottlieb

The Encyclopedia of Jazz  

Leonard Feather

Early Jazz

Gunther Schuller

The Swing Era

Gunther Schuller

Bebop

Thomas Owens

The Jazz Tradition

Martin Williams

Rise and Fall of Popular Music

Donald Clarke

Louis Armstrong, An American Genius

James Lincoln Collier

Benny Goodman and the Swing Era

James Lincoln Collier

Duke Ellington: Beyond Category

John Edward Hasse

Charlie Parker 

Carl Woideck


        -It is an excellent idea to have several of the Jamey Aebersold "play-along" sets for your students to check out and take home. Multiple copies of "A New Approach to Jazz Improvisation" and "Nothin' But the Blues" will allow more than one student at a time to be practicing improvisation at home (and often with other students!)

        -Create a "listening library" of great jazz players that students can access. If they only listen to junk, that's what they'll play. Remember this: Garbage in, garbage out. (See the list later in the article) Many public libraries would be very happy to have your input regarding their listening libraries. Go prepared with a wish list of recommendations!

The Saxophone Section 

One of the most common problems with saxophone sections is that the students are struggling with physical problems of the instruments they are playing as well as with musical issues. Poor quality saxophones destroy the sound and intonation of many young jazz bands. Although it entails some financial commitment, a section of fine saxophones will greatly enhance the tonal picture of your group. And if you need further justification, they will also have just as dramatic an impact on the sound of your concert band!

There should be at least one professional quality alto for the lead player, at least an intermediate model for the second alto, two quality tenors that play well in tune and a professional quality baritone. Although it is rarely called for, you may wish to purchase a soprano (like the fluegelhorn, avoid a "cheapie" that will always be out of tune).

Assigning parts within a saxophone section can be quite confusing. Here are some basic guides to aid choosing "who should play what":

        -The lead alto should be your best reader, most aggressive
and style-conscious player. This person sets the tonal sonority
for your saxophone section and the whole band. Consider the
sound of this person carefully. A weak or wheezy lead alto 
can destroy the sound of the entire ensemble.

        -The first tenor should be your second-best overall player, and 
it is a good idea to have a strong improviser here. Most charts
have solo space for the first tenor, but solos should be assigned
to whoever can handle them best! 

        -The baritone saxophone chair should not be taken lightly.
Very often this person is the primary bass voice in the group
and often doubles the lead alto an octave down or the bass
trombone at the same pitch level. It is imperative that this 
person has a good ear and listening skills.

        -The second alto should have a strong ear and the ability to
blend between the lead alto and first tenor.

        -The second tenor can be your least experienced player, but a 
strong player here will give your section a nice "fat" sound. 

When playing as a section, the saxes should balance (from strongest to softest) alto 1, baritone, alto 2, tenor 1 and tenor 2. The seating of the saxophone section has varied over the years, but in my opinion, this system allows for the most flexibility.

 

X              X             X             X                X 
Tenor 1     Alto 2     Alto 1     Baritone     Tenor 2



This seating may not make sense to everyone at first, but allow me to explain. It is advantageous to place the lead alto and baritone next to one another since they quite often play in octaves during section soli parts. Also, putting the baritone inside the section allows for easier tuning for all the saxophones, without putting this player that far away from the bass trombone. Count Basie used to put his 1930s tenor players at opposite ends (Lester Young and Herschel Evans), according to legend, because they argued over each other's sound. This does put our primary harmonies at the center of the section, and it is useful to those of us with compatible tenor players!

Mouthpiece and reed selections are another point that should be examined. According to J. Derek Jones, Director of Bands at Lambuth University and an outstanding professional woodwind player, metal mouthpieces are not a good idea on alto saxophones. The metal mouthpiece "delivers too harsh a sound on the alto, as well as producing overtones that are edgy. The tenor, by nature and its range, is a quieter instrument that lends itself well to the metal mouthpiece in a jazz setting." Mr. Jones recommends starting a jazz student with a "middle of the road" mouthpiece facing rather than putting the student on a mouthpiece with a facing that must have the air manipulated in a particular way to work. "This often causes bad habits that could prevent the student from producing a 'legitimate' sound on saxophone when called upon."

Some good basic jazz mouthpieces for high school and or young college students:

        -Beechler M5 diamond inlay
        -Meyer S6
        -Rico Royal Graftonite "B" chamber (really good value!!!)
        -Brilhart Ebolin 5 or 5* (not good for playing lead, though)

NEVER start a tenor player on a metal mouthpiece. The squeaking that comes from the initial attempts at playing on metal are very discouraging. 

These mouthpieces are fine for more advanced students, but a more open facing would be preferred. Tenors might be ready for a metal mouthpiece at this point (Never push a student into using one). Claude Lakey mouthpieces (in hard rubber only) are a good investment at this time - players as widely varied as Benny Carter and Jamey Aebersold have used them. They work well in both section and solo settings. To quote Mr. Jones "I would suggest a 5* for alto and a 7 or 7* for tenor. The Lakey 'cuts' really well without getting that harsh edge we associate with a metal mouthpiece. In fact, a lot of rock and rollers use them to help play above all the electric stuff."

"A lot of pros use the mouthpieces mentioned above," Mr. Jones adds. "For a very advanced student, it is best to let them find a mouthpiece for themselves based on what kind of sound they want to produce…inevitably, it's like the one produced by their favorite player. Don't be duped into thinking that because Ben Webster played on a Brilhart 8* with Rico reeds that you will sound the same on his set-up. It will not happen! Everybody uses air differently, places their mouthpiece differently, some have crooked teeth and so forth…it's too complicated, so don't try to make it scientific! Find a mouthpiece that suits your needs and get used to it. Also, don't be fooled into thinking that a $500 gold-plated model sounds better than the $50 version. Charlie Parker usually played on whatever was in the case, and he basically sounded the same on whatever he played!"

As for ligatures - the lighter the material, the better. For jazz playing, the Rovner is too restricting, too dark. Metal ligatures produce a brighter sound by not eliminating so many of the overtones that rubber ligatures are designed to do. Vandoren reeds are probably the most consistent on the market. The "jazz" or "V16" cuts are excellent. For most younger players the 2˝ or 3 strength usually works best.

For lead playing, many saxophonists tune slightly (very slightly) sharp. A good example here would be Marshall Royal, the lead alto and musical director for Count Basie in the 1950s and 1960s. To my ears, the lead alto that tunes "dead-on" will sound flat leading the section. 

The saxophone section should play at all times with a light terminal vibrato, UNLESS:

        -they are playing a unison passage or obbligato
        -they are playing a "quasi horn" passage
        -it is a Stan Kenton chart (straight tone all the time)!

To play with a full vibrato all the time sounds "hokey" or "corny" - remember the Guy Lombardo band? 

The Brass Section 

The lead trumpet and trombone must have good reading skills, clean articulation, good range and a clear, steady tone. Whenever practical, have another brass section member play lead on an easier chart to save chops (while the regular lead plays 3rd or 4th part) and to train upcoming players for lead.

The players for second and third parts (trumpet and trombone) should have good technical facility and a strong ear for partials. Very often solo parts are written in the second part (or "book") - therefore a pretty sound is a must for a soloist.

Fourth trumpet players need a big sound and steady air. A good, aggressive fourth trumpet can be a tremendous asset to your organization, as he or she fills out the harmony in many passages. This is no "throw-away" chair. They often get strange fingering combinations, so it helps if they are good technical players. If you are short of trumpets, know that horn players often do quite well in this capacity - the mouthpiece is the same as mellophone (this does not affect the student's chops nearly as much as marching band - the parts are generally low) and horn players are accustomed to quirky fingering combinations from mellophone.

You should consider purchasing a set of cup, straight, Harmon and bucket mutes for your brass section. These lend so much color to your sound. Create places to use them if they are not called for - not in every chart, but you'll surprise yourself by finding out how many times they really add to the music! Create a set of plunger mutes by a visit to your local hardware store - buy sink plungers for trumpets and toilet plungers for trombones. Now you have a set of "Toidy-tones" at your disposal! Remember that using mutes makes the brass instruments go sharp - the students must compensate for this by pulling out on their tuning slides slightly (and even more when the Harmon is used). Also, remember that when the Harmon is used, the general understanding is that the stem is out, except for a special effect (wah-wah).

In melodic passages the balance should be lead-heavy then get softer toward 
the fourth part - However, on "hits" and "kicks" from the brass section, the parts 
should be equally loud top to bottom. A light terminal vibrato is acceptable except in unison passages or Stan Kenton-styled charts.

A student willing to specialize on bass trombone is a great advantage. These players should have a good air supply and pitch. If they are not accustomed to playing bass trombone parts - remind them that most of their slide positions will be shorter than normal. (The space between the slides is greater on larger-bore horns.)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using euphonium players to cover parts when you do not have enough "real" trombones to fill out a section. I have had better results by using euphoniums rather than valve trombones (unless they are professional model horns, valve trombones tend to be rather "stuffy" and deplorably out-of-tune!). You may have to transpose for treble-clef reading players, but this is not such a challenge after you've done it a few times. Quite often I have found that in an effort to match the rest of the section, the euphonium players will take up trombone rather quickly using the following valve to slide conversion chart:


Valve Combination      Slide Position 

Open                          1st
2nd valve                      2nd  
1st valve                       3rd  
1st and 2nd valves               4th          
2nd and 3rd valves               5th          
                     1st and 3rd valves               6th or 1st with trigger
                        1st, 2nd and 3rd valves         7th or 2nd with trigger     


Recognize that this chart does not include alternate positions or positions for higher partial pitches.

One of the most difficult areas to deal with in the brass section is that of range appropriateness. John C. Schlabach, professor of trumpet at Ohio University, a noted performer and teacher states, "Many charts with appropriate playing demands for all other instruments will take the lead trumpet to high "C", "D" or higher - causing young players to struggle for the notes, often to the detriment of their overall playing ability. The director should take the pressure off players to 'get the note no matter what' and require them to take some things down an octave (obviously adjusting the other parts accordingly), which will probably sound better anyway. Nothing sounds worse than young trumpet players straining for notes with a fifty-fifty shot at anything coming out at all. In the long run, strong players with good range come from overall sequential development of all fundamentals, with range development as a by-product rather than its own 'Holy Grail'".

The Rhythm Section

The greatest challenge facing most jazz band directors is that of the rhythm section. Here are the most common problems and some potential solutions along with specific things that each member of the section can do to improve his or her playing.

PROBLEM #1 - THE RHYTHM SECTION DOESN'T FUNCTION AS A UNIT
The rhythm section is thinking and reacting as individual players rather than as a support team because they do not understand what they should be doing. The students should listen to recordings that present the rhythm section as a unified entity (the Count Basie recordings would be a good starting point). For the band to have a cohesive sound, the rhythm section must function as a supportive unit.

PROBLEM #2 - THE RHYTHM SECTION IS PLAYING IN AN IMPROPER OR 
INADEQUATE STYLE
The rhythm section must be able to perform in swing, latin, ballad and rock styles with equal familiarity. There is nothing worse for a band than to have a rock-style rhythm groove happening in a swing chart unless it is to have a swing-style rhythm groove happening in a rock chart! There are many method books for 
rhythm instruments that deal with these problems, but as always, listening to appropriate recordings will cure many problems.

PROBLEM #3 - THE RHYTHM SECTION IS "ON ITS OWN" - NOT WITH THE 
REST OF THE BAND
It is not enough to merely provide a steady rhythmic background for the winds. The rhythm section must hit "kicks" written for the full ensemble. Drum parts are often poorly written, but this flaw can be overcome by cueing in the lead trumpet parts (the rhythms) on the drum chart where needed. Listen to the full band, react and interact with the soloists.

PROBLEM #4 - THE RHYTHM SECTION PLAYS WITH "SPASTIC" TIME 
The first thing to remember is that rhythm is simply the flow of music through time. Think horizontally not vertically. Make timekeeping skills an obsession! Here's a quote from a great percussion and jazz educator from Murray State University, the late Chuck Simons: "Time is the responsibility of everybody in the band, but it won't happen unless you provide the solid background that is necessary!" 

The best thing anyone can do is to listen to great players and particularly great rhythm sections to get the proper "feel" for the music.


FOR THE PIANO:
Try to stay away from the "bass" notes (don't play much past the octave below middle 'c') as the bass player is playing in that region and you'll "muddy" the sound. Play chords (either written or interpreted from the symbols) and don't get too "busy" or you'll make the music sound "nervous". Learn to read and interpret chord symbols (get a copy of Jamey Aebersold's "chord syllabus") because many of the more advanced charts will not have a voiced-out piano part. Make certain that you are playing identical chord changes with the guitarist or you'll have some ugly clashes. 

FOR THE GUITAR:
"Chopping wood" isn't always very exciting, but when done properly it can give the band an irresistible, grooving pulse that cannot be duplicated in any other way. Go after a "hollow-body" type sound, keep all your strokes downward and short - do not allow the strings to vibrate or ring afterwards. And please, whatever else you do - don't over-amplify - it gives the entire band a "tinny" unnatural electronic sound since it doesn't mesh with the acoustic wind instruments. Make certain that you are playing identical chord changes with the pianist.

FOR THE BASS:
Learn to "walk" and play "grooves" in all the appropriate styles and learn to interpret chord symbols. TIME! TIME! TIME! (Did you get the idea?) Practice daily with a metronome at various tempo markings to insure that you will be able to lend stability to the whole rhythm section. Don't overplay by being too "busy" (playing too many notes) and don't over-amplify. You should be "felt" more than "heard". Many young bassists tend to set their amplifiers too "bright." Go for a dark, mellow sound, but with enough top end to help push the time.

FOR THE DRUMS:
PLAY "TIME"! Stay off that bass drum (don't do that "four-on-the-floor" business - it usually makes the band drag) and use it only for "kicks" and special effects. Occasionally, in a vintage swing chart the straight four quarter notes on the bass drum are appropriate, but it is best to avoid this practice otherwise. Don't play the same old rhythmic pattern ad nauseum. Make variances to keep form dragging down and to maintain interest. Remember that you and the bass player are the primary persons responsible for setting a good "groove" for the entire band. Learn all the styles by listening to great players and always practice with a metronome. It is a great idea for the bassist and drummer to get together before a rehearsal to work over a new chart. Above all else - LISTEN TO JAZZ EVERY DAY! 


FOR THE AUXILIARY PERCUSSIONIST:
You have the toughest assignment in the rhythm section - you have to stay out of everybody else's territory. Don't be "busy". The latin percussion instruments are used in the large ensemble for tonal color. Not every chart needs (or can support) the use of latin percussion. When using the vibes, be sure not to "comp" along with the piano - it creates confusion for the soloist. Work out times to "lay out" when the pianist comps and for him or her to do the same while you comp for the soloist. Learn to read and interpret chord symbols. Try these combinations to keep from having a "muddy" rhythm section sound:

piano comps/guitar "chops wood"/vibes out
guitar comps/piano out/vibes out
vibes comp/guitar "chops wood"/piano out

For a different sound on charts that do not have a written vibraphone part, transpose the lead trumpet part at the ensemble "shout" sections.

The Soloist

Students should be encouraged to make attempts at improvisation. Not all teachers are going to be improvisers themselves, but they are in a position to provide an environment in which the student can grow. It is better to have a written solo played correctly than to have an improvised solo in an inappropriate style (i.e. the B-flat blues scale doesn't work in all keys or tunes). Here are some guidelines to follow as a young musician begins to improvise:

LISTEN TO GREAT JAZZ PLAYERS! You shouldn't attempt to copy them, but you need role models. You must "stock the well" with good musical ideas - remember - "Garbage in, garbage out". Get a bunch of good rhythmic and melodic ideas upon which to construct your own solos!

TAKE CHANCES! To quote the great jazz educator Jamey Aebersold "There is no such thing as wrong notes…just poor choices." Don't be afraid to play, it's the only way to improve. A note can either be right or be wrong. If you play, there is a 50% chance that you'll be right! If you don't play, there is a 100% certainty that you will be wrong! 

KNOW YOUR INSTRUMENT! Good, clean, legitimate technique will enable you to execute physically what you can create mentally. Do not neglect your scales and practice books. Certainly do not neglect your sight-reading skills. As a general rule, musicians are not hired professionally for their improvising skills, but for their ability to sight-read and execute!

PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Practice on your own and (preferably) with others. You will learn faster through interaction than with any other method! If you don't have a "live" rhythm section to play with, use the Aebersold CD series. 


Great Jazz Artists for Listening and Learning

There is no greater learning tool in jazz than listening to recordings. They allow us to analyze and study the playing habits of the "great ones". The list included here is by no means exhaustive, nor can it include everyone. However, many different schools of thought and exceptionally high musical standards are represented by this collection of artists. 

Alto Saxes
Charlie Parker
Art Pepper
Johnny Hodges
Hank Crawford
Wes Anderson
Cannonball Adderley
Benny Carter
Paul Desmond

Tenor Saxes
Lester Young
Coleman Hawkins
John Coltrane
Sonny Rollins
Ben Webster
Joe Henderson
Joshua Redman
Stan Getz
Zoot Sims
Dexter Gordon

Baritone Saxes
Harry Carney
Gerry Mulligan
Pepper Adams
Serge Chaloff

Clarinets
Benny Goodman
Jimmy Hamilton
Artie Shaw
Buster Bailey
Buddy DeFranco
Eddie Daniels

Trumpets
Louis Armstrong
Roy Eldridge
Dizzy Gillespie
Clark Terry
Clifford Brown
Wynton Marsalis
Warren Vache
Jon Faddis
Byron Stripling

Trombones
J.J. Johnson
Jack Teagarden
Bill Harris
Frank Rosolino
Bill Watrous
Carl Fontana
John Fedchock
Wycliffe Gordon

Piano
Nat "King" Cole
Oscar Peterson
Bill Evans
Bud Powell
Phineas Newborn
Teddy Wilson
Duke Ellington
Count Basie
Horace Silver
Bobby Timmons
Herbie Hancock
Hank Jones
Chick Corea
Benny Green

Guitars
Charlie Christian
Jim Hall 
Joe Pass
Ed Bickert
Pat Metheny
Django Reinhardt
Eddie Lang
Freddie Greene
Barney Kessell

Bass
Ray Brown
Ron Carter
Jimmy Blanton
Charles Mingus
Stanley Clarke
Jaco Pastorius
Christian McBride

Drums

For Big Band styles:
Sonny Payne
Mel Lewis
Shelley Manne
Buddy Rich
Frank Capp

For Combo styles:
Max Roach
Kenny Clarke
Art Blakey
Roy Haynes
Jeff "Tain" Watts

Vibraphone
Lionel Hampton
Milt Jackson
Terry Gibbs
Eddie Costa
Red Norvo
Gary Burton

Big Bands
Count Basie
Duke Ellington
Woody Herman
Benny Goodman
Stan Kenton
Terry Gibbs
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis
Bob Florence
Lincoln Center Jazz
                        Orchestra

Female Vocalists
Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday
Carmen McRae
Kay Starr
Dinah Washington
Sarah Vaughn
Betty Carter
Dee Dee Bridgewater

Male Vocalists
Louis Armstrong
Jack Teagarden
Nat "King" Cole
Joe Williams
Frank Sinatra
Tony Bennett
Joe Williams
Mel Torme
Ray Charles