A common question that I receive from my arranging students is about the difference between jazz shuffle and jazz swing.

Jazz Swing and Jazz Shuffle are similar styles. They both have swing eighth notes. When I am writing in a jazz shuffle style, the first thing I think of is a heavy back beat in the snare – like rock.  And, with shuffle, the horn rhythms can be a little more choppy or staccato sounding.

A good discussion of this topic:  http://www.studybass.com/lessons/rhythm/shuffle-and-swing-rhythms/

Shuffle Notation

Sometimes, I write the parts with a dotted eighth and 16th rather than the typical 2 eighth notes.  Notice in the Bubba’s Revenge  example how there are 16ths in the first bar and eighth notes in the last. This communicates a slight variation of the rhythm to the player. This is from the guitar part in bars 9 and 10. Check out the YouTube recording, below.

Count Bubba’s Revenge: Gordon Goodwin

YouTube links in a Jazz Shuffle Style:

1. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – The Chess Players

2. Jump Jive and Wail: notice the heavy back beat in the snare.

3.  Buddy Rich Groovin Hard – after the intro section – when the drums play the heavy back beat

4. Harry “Sweets”Edison-Red Bunk Shuffle

Compare the above with straight ahead swing:

1. Sinatra:  Summer Wind – Notice the difference in how the snare is much less heavy and the figures in the horns more legato or “laid back.”

2.  Buddy Rich:  Basically Blues – Notice how the snare is a cross-stick and much less “heavy” sounding.

3.  Count Basie: Cute – drums with brushes, no heavy back beat.