Jazz Combo

One important vehicle for the performance of jazz is the small ensemble of soloists, often referred to as a ‘combo’ or by one of the classical music designations such as ‘quartet,’ ‘quintet’ or ‘sextet.’ At the core of these ensemble combinations is a ‘rhythm section,’ typically consisting of a piano, a double bass and a drum set. The other basic component of a combo is one or a few soloists each performing on melodic instruments. Some of the most renowned jazz combos have featured soloists performing on one or more of the first four instruments pictured below, although the possible solo instruments are by no means restricted to these. Some famous jazz combos and their instrumentations are as follows:

Modern Jazz Quartet:  vibraphone; piano, double bass, drum set [clip 1]

Coltrane Quartet:  tenor saxophone (doubling on soprano saxophone); piano, double bass, drum set [clip 2]

Brubeck Quartet:  alto saxophone; piano, double bass, drum set [clip 3]

Miles Davis Quintet:  trumpet, tenor saxophone; piano, double bass, drum set [clip 4]

Dizzy Gillespie’s All Star Quintet:  trumpet, alto saxophone; piano, double bass, drum set  [clip 5]

(by Roger Vetter)

saxophone - alto

saxophone - tenor



baby grand piano

double bass

drum set

Title: The Best of the Modern Jazz Quartet--Connie’s Blues; The Modern Jazz Quartet. Label: Pablo. Format: CD. Catalog#: PACD-2405-423-2. Track: 2.

Title: John Coltrane: My Favorite Things--Summertime; John Coltrane, tenor Sax, McCoy Tyner, piano, Steve Davis, bass, Elvin Jones, drums. Label: Atlantic. Format: CD. Catalog#: 1361-2. Track: 3.

Title: Time Out--Take Five; Dave Brubeck Quartet. Label: Columbia Jazz. Format: CD. Catalog#: CK65122. Track: 3.

Title: Miles Davis Highlights from the Plugged Nickel--So What; Miles Davis, trumpet, Wayne Shorter, tenor sax, Herbie Hancock, piano, Ron Carter, bass, Tony Williams, drums. Label: Columbia. Format: CD. Catalog#: CK67377. Track: 3.

Title: Smithsonian Collection of Classical Jazz Vol.3--Shaw’nuff; Dizzy Gillespie All Star Quintet. Label: Smithsonian. Format: CD. Catalog#: RD 033-3. Track: III-11.