We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Jazz Orchestra?

By C. Mitchell
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A jazz orchestra is typically a large ensemble of musicians that focuses its musical talents on performances and concerts. The most well known jazz orchestras are formal groups made up of professional artists, often anchored in the arts scenes of large cities around the world. Not all orchestras are so formal, however. Groups of students or casual musicians can correctly be called a jazz orchestra if they support sections of jazz instruments and engage in regular performances.

The main difference between a jazz band and a jazz orchestra is size. An orchestra, jazz or otherwise, is defined by the presence of complete instrumental sections. A traditional orchestra contains sections of strings, percussion, brass, and woodwinds. Most of these sections are represented in a jazz orchestra, with heavy emphasis on brass. Trombones, saxophones, and trumpets are all essential. Tubas, bass, and flutes are also common and, depending on the orchestra’s size, a piano and drums may also be present.

Jazz music is typically played on brass. It is characterized by irregular rhythms, often expressing the emotions of the musician through adapted blues melodies. In an orchestra setting, musicians play different jazz numbers en masse. Orchestral jazz pieces are usually written to optimize the sound of multiple instruments at once.

Most orchestras contain at minimum two musicians per instrument, with the exception of drums and piano. A conductor works with the musicians to coordinate their contributions and arranges pieces to create a rich fabric of sound. Many of these pieces are traditional jazz standards, but others are numbers composed specifically for complete jazz orchestra play.

Large orchestras — typically those with 100 or more musicians — are generally called "symphony orchestras." Smaller groups are usually referred to as chamber orchestras. A chamber jazz orchestra is typically made up of 50 or fewer musicians and may include vocalists. These groups can be formally organized in cities just as symphony orchestras are, but they are also common on university campuses and in more informal community settings. Most of the musicians in these kinds of groups participate as a hobby, not as a career.

Music performance is usually the primary task of any jazz orchestra. The jazz style of music originated in the American South, but has since spread in popularity throughout the United States and the world. Most major cities throughout North America, Europe, and Asia have formal symphony jazz orchestras. The groups are usually deeply entrenched in the city’s arts culture and perform concerts on a regular basis.

Symphony jazz orchestras typically make some revenue through ticket sales, though the majority are considered non-profit organizations. In most cases, this is because they are heavily involved in the local arts scene and often donate their resources to the promotion of music appreciation in schools and in the wider community both. Many are also supported by arts-minded benefactors or philanthropists.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By RoyalSpyder — On Oct 16, 2014

Whether it's a jazz orchestra, or synthesized jazz, it's my favorite genre of music. Reading this article really brings me back to the days where I would listen to music on Smooth Jazz, 95.5. Nowadays though, it seems very difficult to find any music stations that perform some decent music.

I would also like to add, that while I have enjoyed listening to jazz music, I have never really gave the instruments much thought, until reading this article at least. It really gives some great insight on the kinds of instruments that are used, and how they're performed with the rest of the band, to make sure that everything flows together. I feel like this can apply to any genre of music.

The next time you're listening to your favorite country track or pop song, perhaps it would be a good idea to do some research, and look at how the instruments are used and performed. Who knows? It could be a step in the right direction if you want to perform your own music someday.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.