Jazz standard

Jazz standard refers to a tune that is widely known among jazz musicians. As jazz is actually a range of musical styles, musicians and bands can vary in their "standards" according to what type of jazz they play. Most professional bands will have repertories with many more tunes than the "standards", but they will usually be sure to include some standards in an evening's performance, and have them ready to play in case of request.

Dixieland and Traditional jazz standards include:

  • "(At the) Darktown Strutters Ball"
  • "Bill Bailey (Won't You Please Come Home)"
  • (Home Again in) Indiana"
  • "Milenburg Joys"
  • "Panama" (Original title "Panama, a Characterist Novelty" from 1912)
  • "That's A Plenty"
  • "Tiger Rag"
  • "When the Saints Go Marching In" (Nicknamed "The Monster" by some musicians, as it seems to be the only tune many people know to request when seeing a Dixieland band, and some musicians dread being asked to play it several time a night)

Swing band standards include:
  • "In the Mood"
  • "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing"
  • "King Porter Stomp"
  • "Sing, Sing Sing"
  • "Stardust"
  • "Take the A Train"
  • "Woodchopper's Ball"

"Bebop" standards include:
  • "Blue Monk"
  • "Caravan"
  • "Giant Steps"
  • "Joy Spring"
  • "Milestones"
  • "Night in Tunisia"
  • "Salt Peanuts"

"Mainstream" late 20th century jazz standards include the songs:

  • "All of Me"
  • "Misty"
  • "My Favourite Things"
  • "Satin Doll"
  • "Summertime"
  • "I Remember Clifford"
  • "Four Brothers"

and instrumental compositions such as:

  • "Cherokee"
  • "Bags' Groove"
  • "Robbins' Nest"
  • "Stable Mates"

The categories of jazz are not exclusive as to their standards, and any of the songs may be played by bands that specialize in another style. For example, some avant garde groups may delight in playing an old tune in their modern style, or a Dixieland band may pride themselves on playing a modern tune in a style that gives it a traditional sound.

There is no definitive list of standards. Many 'standards', such as those above, were originally written decades ago, and may be from old popular tunes, Broadway or musical selections, or old recordings of famous bands. However, jazz musicians might also include a wide range of more recent tunes in their concept of 'standards'.

It is common for jazz musicians invited to take part in a 'standards gig' to ask the person who's booking the gig or the other musicians involved for particular tunes they have in mind. However, time spent working through a respectable 'fake book', such as The New Real Book, will help in such situations.

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