I'm writing an arrangement of a typical AABA jazz standard for big band. After the 1st chorus (AABA once) I want a saxophone to take a solo. It occurred to me that I could let a different instrument (say trumpet) take a solo over the B section and the 3rd A section for variety. Would this be seen as unusual in big band circles?

2 Answers 2


It would not be at all unusual.

It's perhaps more common for the solo portion to be open, with the band leader deciding during performance who will solo next, with each soloist playing a full chorus. The band leader also might decide to split the chorus between two or more instruments, but this would typically be determined ahead of time.

It also might be slightly more common for one instrument to play all of the A sections with another instrument for the B section.

But it's also perfectly normal for solos to be assigned to specific instruments at specific times by the composer or arranger.

  • 1
    This is often seen in arrangements for singers where open solos would not be appropriate.
    – PiedPiper
    Feb 21, 2022 at 15:05

There are sections in some pieces where 'open for solos' is written. At that point, the conductor usually has that decision to make, and how much of the section is dictated by the chart.

However, usually worked out prior to playing, as in a rehearsal or two minutes before performing (!) it could be that any different instruments could play any part - usually designated by the conductor pointing to the next player. Or it could even be 'trading fours', where two instruments have a conversation with each other.

If you wanted, you could specify on the chart which instrument plays which part.

Heck, in Big Band World, we're used to having everything - and the kitchen sink - thrown at us!!

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