Joe Policastro
Double Bass


In addition to being a performer, Joe is highly active as an educator and arranger/ composer/music editor. This page details the additional services he provides. Contact Joe about his teaching studio or for pricing of any individual arranging or charting service/project.


Joe holds a B.M. in Jazz/Studio Music from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and a M.M. in Jazz Studies from DePaul University. Additionally, he studied Classical Double Bass Performance on full scholarship at Miami University.

As a teacher, Joe has worked with students of all ages, types, and backgrounds. Currently, he is on faculty at the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, the Chicago Academy For The Arts, and Morton College. He has been a Lecturer of Jazz studies at DePaul University, a Ravinia Jazz mentor, and has taught for the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Discover Music Discover Life, and the Jazz Institute of Chicago, to name but a few. Philosophically, he believes in an integrated approach to jazz comprised of ear training, piano, jazz history, technique, and repertoire. A jazz musician with a solid classical background, Joe teaches a comprehensive approach to the double bass incorporating etudes and classical repertoire directly applying them to jazz techniques and repertoire.


Inspired by composers/arrangers such as George Russell, Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Giuffre, and John Lewis, Joe has continued to pursue endeavors that challenge both his writing and playing. He has arranged for ensembles of all sizes and has had his work recorded by artists as diverse as Petra van Nuis and Ira Sullivan. In addition to composing and arranging, Joe also offers music copying, editing, charting, and transcription services. Whether you need lead sheets, accurate transcriptions, or you have to transfer hand-written scores, he will be glad to assist you and work with you on a project of any size. All work is prepared in Sibelius 4 or 6 and can be delivered in the original file format or as PDFs.

View sample lead sheets and scores:

Listen to some of Joe's arrangements:

Ugly Beauty

I originally arranged this big band chart as a feature for Ira Sullivan on alto flute. The Rob Parton Big Band beautifully recorded a version as a feature for tenor saxophonist Mark Colby on their album We'll Be Together Again. The intro models Thelonious Monk's original piano accompaniment, but after the initial statement, the piece is re-worked into a straight-eighth, 4/4 vehicle for the soloist. To try to maximize the drama of the piece and the soloist, the arrangement vacillates between extremely dense textures and very sparse scoring.

Seasonal Song

This is an original tune of mine arranged for an octet of mixed brass and woodwind (trumpet, alto sax, trombone, tenor sax, bari sax) with rhythm section (piano, bass drums). I've always loved octets and nonets like those led by Miles Davis, Shorty Rogers, Dave Pell, and Lennie Niehaus. Not just utilizing the horns together, this arrangement has several unique instrument pairings throughout that play off of each other.

Let There Be Love

I arranged this somewhat forgotten gem for Petra van Nuis' album, "A Sweet Refrain." It's a vocal feature backed by a quintet consisting of two horns (trumpet and trombone) and rhythm section (guitar, bass, drums). Through rhythmic hits and integrated voicings (writing through the horns and rhythm section), I tried to get the fullest sound out of as few voices as possible while still leaving the focus on Petra and the melody.


I arranged this tune for the "Chris Madsen Trio Plays the Music of Bix Beiderbecke." It is a reduction/re-working of Bill Challis' arrangement for Paul Whitman and His Orchestra. I've always enjoyed the arranging challenges posed by having to make things smaller (i.e. getting more out of less), and trying to make saxophone, guitar, and bass have the same effect as a twenty-something-piece ensemble is quite a challenge!