WANNA PLAY SOME JAZZ WITH US? 


Do you itch for that big-band sound?  Have you played before but not for a while?  Would you like to learn for the first time?  GREAT, we want to meet you!

NWS is a traditional jazz big band consisting of the standard 5-4-4-4 membership:  

  • 5 saxophones (2 altos, 2 tenors, and a bari),
  • 4 trumpets,
  • 4 trombones (including 1 bass trombone),
  • 4 rhythm (bass, piano, drums, guitar)
  • Vocalists (many)

Subbing In


Becoming a sub is one of the best ways to feel us out and play with us!  We're always looking for talented musicians who can step in, play some jazz with us, and fill crucial holes that occasionally open up.

As a sub, you'll occasionally be called on to fill in for members who are unable to play.  Usually we will call subs to fill in for gigs, and the two rehearsals leading up to those gigs.  However, we occasionally bring in subs for our normal rehearsals too.

Subbing for Rehearsals -- "Sitting In"


If you're a first-time sub with us, or just getting back into jazz, this is a great way to feel us out and build your confidence! We love when musicians join us for our rehearsals, even if we have a full band that day!  We're usually able to accommodate extra parts for a single rehearsal, and it's a great way for you to get a feel for us, and for us to get to know you!

Send email to info@northwestswing.org if this sounds like something you'd like to do!  We'll be happy to have you!

Subbing for gigs


In general, sub positions for gigs are more demanding than sit-in positions in large part because we will call you for only a few rehearsals (or even one rehearsal) and expect you to be gig-ready on the pieces we choose.  That means in general, you should:

  • Have strong sight-reading skills.
    This is an absolute must, as you won't necessarily have access to the music prior to your rehearsal with us. Arrangements can be made to provide the music to you, but you are responsible for requesting that.

  • Be able to commit to all rehearsals and the gig.
    If you can't make all rehearsals and the gig, please don't apply.

  • Be able to improvise (if subbing for a lead position).
    Lead positions frequently have improvised solos -- we will need you to be comfortable with that.

Use your best judgement on whether you're comfortable subbing for a gig.  We generally recommend you sit in with us for several rehearsals to build your confidence (and ours in your abilities) before you request to sub for a gig.

Becoming a Sub


Becoming a sub is easy:

  • Send an email to info@northwestswing.org requesting to sub for a particular position.
    We will look for upcoming rehearsals for you to sit in, and invite you in.  This is your chance to get to know us, and for us to get to know you!

  • We'll add you to our sub list.
    If you enjoy us and we enjoy you, we'll keep you on our sub list and call you back for future needs.

The more you play with us, the more likely we are to call you first.  So don't rely on us to just call you when we need you -- stay in touch with us and periodically query us for openings or to sit-in with us.  We're much more likely to schedule you in on a spot if you make the request! 

Even better, the more you play with us, the better your chances of membership should a seat open, as you will be among the first we ask to join!

Becoming a Member


We gladly welcome applications for membership for seat positions when they open up.  However, due to the makeup of the band, we are unable to accept all applications.  We occasionally have seat positions available, and will happily accept applications for those seats.

Right now, we have the following openings:

  • Vocalists: Male and Female

General Qualifications


To be considered for membership you must:

  • Email info@northwestswing.org with your request,
  • Be available to rehearse on Saturdays at 9:00am to 11:00am,
  • Be willing to drive to South Park, Seattle,
  • Have and be able to play an instrument matching an available position (or sing if applying for a vocal position).

If you've been playing with us for a while as a sub, you're much more likely to be extended an offer for membership as we'll already be familiar with your abilities! However, previous subbing experience is not a prerequisite.

Instrumental Qualifications


In  addition to the above requirements, instrumentalists must:

  • Be able to read sheet music.
    Strong abilities to sight read are preferable, but not required -- you'll develop that over time with us!

  • Be able to play in the full normal range of your instrument.
    Abilities to play outside the normal range (higher or lower) are preferable, but not required.  We will position you as appropriate for your skills.

  • Be at least somewhat familiar with jazz styles.
    Largely we want you to have a basic understanding of the difference between swing and straight.  You'll learn the nuances with us if you don't already know them.

  • Be able to read chord changes.
    This is especially important if you want a position with soloing, or if you're applying for a bass or piano position.

  • Be open to improvisation.
    Not everyone in the band is comfortable improvising.  But we do occasionally stretch ourselves and have everyone do a little something.  If you're not comfortable at all, that's OK.  But we do give preference to those that can in a contest.

  • Be able to double (sax positions only).
    Jazz tunes very frequently require saxophonists to double on flute or clarinet.  Having one or both and being able to play them in a jazz setting is strongly preferable.

Vocalist Qualifications

For vocalists, we require you to:

  • Be able to sing at least two full octaves in your range.
    Jazz music frequently has melodies with wide ranges.  You'll want to have a good range to sing with us.

  • Have prior experience singing jazz.
    This is an absolute must.  Vocalist positions are feature positions, and we expect that vocalists already have experience singing jazz.

  • Pass an audition administered during a normal rehearsal.
    We will select one or two vocal charts for you to read and sing, which we'll provide you prior to the audition.  When you come, we'll do a full-band read-through of the music a few times with you.