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HomeLJS PodcastJazz Tips and AdviceHow to Create Killer Set Lists for Your Jazz Gigs

How to Create Killer Set Lists for Your Jazz Gigs

Welcome to episode 280 where today we talk about jazz gig set lists and how to create ones that keep you and the audience inspired. A great set list can make a huge difference in both how you and the audience feel about your gig. I talk about 3 guidelines to consider when creating your set lists, and then I walk you through a 7 song set list that I created.

Listen to episode 280

Alright, picture this. You’re at your jazz gig, your bandmates are there. Everybody is set up, everybody is ready to play. And right before you are about to start, someone asked, “Well, what tune are we going to play first?”

And dead silence comes over all the other bandmates. No one really knows which tune to play. It takes a while to come up with one. You play the first tune and then… dead silence again. What tune do we play next?

Or perhaps you do start coming out with tunes and calling tunes and eventhough it takes some time to come across them, you notice that everything sounds the same.

It gets boring for you. It gets boring for the audience, and in general, it just kind of lowers the quality of the gig and the performance. 

Well, my friend, that is exactly why you need a killer set list for your jazz gig that actually has variety, that is actually interesting to the audience and is interesting to you. 

That’s exactly what we are going to talk about in this podcast. We’ll go over some guidelines and give you a 7-song set list to consider.

In this episode:

1. Guideline #1: Add stylistic variety

2. Guideline #2: Add emotional variety

3. Guideline #3: Consider what kind of gig you are playing

4. I walk you through a 7 song set list and why I made each song choice

5. Bonus Guideline: keep variety in your song keys and don’t play the same key back to back

Important Links

1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."



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