Jazz Bands & Combos

Jazz is meant to be played with other people, and at Jazz Workshop Australia you have the chance to do just that, whatever your age or experience. You can join a small jazz band (called combos) and/or a big band (sometimes known as stage bands). We have groups suitable for all levels of experience.

Our bands are available for hire, as part of our performance program for our students. Call or email for details.

We have two programs: the JWA combo program and the SYJO big band program, which we operate on behalf of Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra Inc. Association. When you apply to join one of the combos we will place you in the best one for you. The SYJO Big Band program is for the most talented and motivated young students, providing them with the opportunity to extend themselves in a group of like-minded peers. Entry to the Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra ensembles is by audition and/or invitation only for musicians aged under 30.

In our experience, students participating in jazz combo tend to do significantly better in school music than those who miss out. They also make enormous gains in self – confidence, instrumental technique, aural skills and musicianship.

A jazz combo is a small band, of up to ten musicians. It is really a flexible “combination” of instruments. At Jazz Workshop the combos rehearse once per week, tutored by one of our experienced teachers. Combos give you the chance to apply and put into practice the work and theory you learn with your teacher, and really give your playing a boost. This is an excellent way to dramatically improve your skills on your instrument, and to boost your self confidence.

A big band is a larger jazz group, usually 12 to 20 players. They are called “big bands” because, compared to most jazz bands, they are big! Of course, compared to a concert band or orchestra, they are still quite small. In a big band the emphasis is on playing carefully arranged pieces, each musician playing off a written part.

A standard Big Band has five saxes (2 altos, 2 tenors and one bari); four trumpets, four trombones, guitar, piano, bass, and drums. The line up in a combo is completely flexible, though most include bass and drums.

Also, to confuse things even more, some people still call this kind of group a “stage band”. this was actually a term invented in the USA in the early days of jazz education as a way of disguising the fact that students were playing jazz. Jazz was, at one time, banned from schools and universities and considered unsuitable for young people! Luckily such narrow-minded attitudes, based as they are in snobbery and racism, are less common today.

There is a discount for anyone taking private lessons and playing in a combo at Jazz Workshop.

Of course, you don’t have to study with one of our teachers to play in a combo. Musicians of all ages are welcome. Call or email today to join!

Here is a summary of the bands and other ensembles we offer. SYJO ensembles and JWA Academy combos are by audition only. The JWA Academy is our High Performance program. The other groups are open to all, but depend on space permitting and standard of the group (read below for details):

  • SYJO (Thursdays 6:45 – 8:45)
  • SYJO2 (Wednesdays 6:30 – 8:15)
  • Combo (Tuesdays 5:30 pm)
  • JWA Academy Jazz combo (Saturdays & Wednesdays)
  • JWA Academy Advanced Jazz combo (Saturdays & Tuesdays)
  • Adult Jazz combo (Mondays 6:30 – 7:30pm and 7:30-8:30pm)

Enrol now in combo or SYJO big band


Jazz Combos

  • $737/ semester (18 weeks).


There are groups for all ages and levels. Various combos meet Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Places are generally limited to eight people. A combo can involve any “combination” of instruments, there are no set parts.


  • Mondays 6:30pm (adults)
  • Tuesdays 6 pm
  • Wednesdays 5:30 pm
  • Saturdays 10 am
  • Saturdays 2:30 pm (advanced students)
  • Saturdays 3:45 pm (advanced students)
  • Saturdays 5  pm

The groups are led by Saul Richardson and Goeffroy Colson.

The JWA combos are for students to learn and develop their playing in a small jazz ensemble, and improvising in a jazz idiom. These groups work through a program designed to develop, reinforce, and enhance:

  • fundamental performance skills
  • self – confidence
  • instrumental technique
  • sophisticated ensemble skills
  • teamwork
  • understanding of jazz theory
  • appreciation of jazz history and styles
  • jazz improvisation
  • aural skills

JWA Academy Advanced Combos

Led by Saul Richardson

The JWA Academy is our High Performance program.

The senior JWA Academy combos are for older or more advanced players with a strong background in small group jazz playing and jazz improvisation. These bands are designed to challenge and inspire the best young musicians. They cover advanced concepts and the hardest tunes. An ideal preparation for anyone considering auditioning for Jazz Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium or other tertiary institution.

The group for younger students is for those who show special interest, aptitude and potential.

Places are limited to eight people. By audition only.



Combo for Adults

ages 18 +

Cost: $352 for 1 term membership, call for late enrolment (no casual rate available)

Time: Monday evenings, 6:30-7:30pm.

Led by Geoffroy Colson.

No rehearsals during school holidays.

This course is for anyone over 18 who wants to learn how play in a jazz band, or further develop their skills, under the expert guidance of a leading jazz player and educator. As you play jazz standards you will learn about style, small ensemble playing, and improve your skills as an improvisor.

Places are limited. There are two groups, one for more advanced players

Enrol now in combo or big band


Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra

ages 30 and under

Thursdays 6:45pm – 8:45pm

Directed by Saul Richardson

The Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra is an award winning 18 piece ensemble aimed at talented and motivated young musicians. It is ideal for young professional players to develop big band performance experience in an excellent group. It is also good for people who played at school, and want to keep going in a band in which the focus is on musical excellence. It is open, through audition, to talented musicians aged 30 or under who would like to challenge themselves in a band made up of outstanding musicians from the Sydney region. JWA runs SYJO on behalf of the Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra association. Visit the Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra website for more information.



Wednesdays 6:30 – 8:15pm

Led by Saul Richardson

The second of the SYJO big bands, generally for students ages 14 – 20 but by audition only.  Includes outstanding high school and university aged musicians interested in performing to a very high standard. SYJO2 serves as a training and proving ground for future SYJO members.

Membership is by audition, subject to availability. Contact SYJO for details info@syjo.org. Visit the SYJO website: SYJO.org