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Busy 2014-15

JAZZ.FM91_YouthBigBand_2014-5_PhotoI am just getting my feet back underneath me from a really busy year!  I completed the first year of the Master’s program at the University of Toronto while directing the 7 o’clock Jazz Ensemble.  I managed to continue my regular schedule with the Toronto District School Board as well as my role as Musical Director of the 2014/15 JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band (pictured above).

Big thanks to my wife Pamela for keeping things on the home front going so smoothly and to my boys Jacob,Samuel and Benjamin for putting up with my schedule this year!  Pam picked up all the slack this year and is such a great mom!

This last week proved to be an exciting- yet typical week.  On Tuesday April 28th, 2015 I did my year first year Master’s recital.  The program included half original music and half standards with string and rhythm section accompaniment.  I was lucky to have Amanda Lee, Daniela Gasi, Pamela Bettger and Ann O’Kane in the string section and along with Kevin Coady, Josh Smiley and Victor Vrankulj.


Two days later the JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band was on stage at Keorner Hall for the annual JAZZ LIVES 2015 concert.  The band shared the stage with Benny Golson, Pat Metheny and Kat Edmondson and some of Toronto’s finest musicians: Mike Downes, Larnell Lewis, Robi Botos and Lou Pomanti.  


Benny Golson’s set was truly remarkable. It was a jazz history lesson!  He performed Whisper Not, Killer Joe and Stablemates and had plenty of incredible stories about his life and experiences. Probably one of the last opportunities to hear tales told from the original perspective.

Other highlights of the year include two performances at Lula Lounge that I produced which included U of T Big Band Night and Drew Jurecka with the Etobicoke School of the Arts Strings and the JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band.

YBB_LulaLounge_04 01_Poster2015_04_01-JazzFMYBB_9790-web

A couple of weeks later the show at Lula with Drew Jurecka was a real treat!   I did a number of arrangements for this concert including big band and the ESA string orchestra.  It was certainly one of the musical highlights of my time with the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band program.  

The U of T Big Band night was a huge success with an excellent crowd out to see all three groups in action.  It was a great opportunity for all the students to hear each other play!  The University of Toronto  Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Gordon Foote played a  particularly  impressive performance that night and continues to give everyone a real measuring stick for excellence.

UofT Jazz-Mar 8-Lula v2In November the JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band performed with PJ Perry for a Sound of Jazz Concert.  I was really excited about having the opportunity to work with PJ as he has been a real mentor to me for years.  You can tell the kind of musical intensity that PJ brings to his playing from the photo below.


In closing I would like to mention what a great year I had working with euphonium virtuoso Robert Miller.  Not only is he a wonderful player but one of the best private teachers that I have ever had!  Thanks for all your words of wisdom! I am already looking forward to working with him again next year!

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Summer 2014!

It’s been a great 2013-14 year and I am particularly looking forward to the summer edition of the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band as well as all my other summertime projects. The Kincardine Summer Jazz Program is looking great for 2014! The faculty will remain the same from last year with Brian O’Kane (trumpet), Kelly Jefferson (saxophone), Mike Rud (guitar), Earl MacDonald (piano) Mike Downes (bass) and Ted Warren (drums). I am also very excited to have Robert Smith (Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Central Michigan University) coming up to be our artist in residence this year featured on trumpet.

The evening concert series promises to feature another excellent group of musicians including the aforementioned Rob Smith on trumpet, vocalist Sienna Dahlen, multi-instrumentalist Drew Jureka, Sonia Gustafson and the Kincardine Jazz Faculty concert for starters! The JAZZ.FM91 YBB will also be performing on Thursday August 7th, 2014 in Victoria Park, Kincardine.

Congratulations to Kincardine Faculty members on their successes at the 2014 Juno’s! Earl MacDonald for his Juno nomination and Mike Rud (vocal jazz album of the year) and Mike Downes (contemporary jazz album).


Kincardine Faculty at the Juno’s 2014


The JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band program is in it’s seventh year and on Sunday June 15th, 2014 starting at 7:00pm we are celebrating the YBB program and it’s current and past members at the Lula Lounge. The current YBB will play a set with some special guests artists including Kelsley Grant and Alex Dean.  Then the alumni will be invited to sit in for the rest of the night with the ” alumni house band”. It will be exciting to see the past band members and hear about their adventures since moving onto various universities and now out working in the real world!

YBB with Alex Dean at the Next Generation Jazz Festival 2014

YBB with Alex Dean at the Next Generation Jazz Festival 2014

 The YBB will also be traveling down to the Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival for a Sunday June 22nd, 2014 performance. This will be our second trip down to the festival and it’s was surely a big highlight of the year last time we went. Thanks John Nugent for the invitation.The students will have the opportunity to tour the prestigious Eastman School of Music during our visit.


Jules Estrin and John Nugent at the Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival 2012!

In other exciting news I have been accepted to the University of Toronto to start my Master’s Degree in September 2014! I still plan on continuing my work with the Toronto District School Board on a part time basis during this time. I am looking forward to working on my body of knowledge in big band conducting/rehearsal techniques and all other related concepts with Gordon Foote and getting back on the trombone. See you in the summer!


Senior’s night at Hart House with the JAZZ.FM91 YBB and University of Toronto Jazz Orchestra! Doug Thrower, Jules Estrin and Gordon Foote

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Year in Review and beyond!

It’s been a while since I have had the opportunity to sit down and update the site. What a great year professionally this has been! Lots of exciting stuff going on! I’ll start with an update on the Kincardine Summer Jazz Program in August 2013. The camp manages to attract a world class faculty and has an incredible concert series. It was such a pleasure to have Ralph Bowen up from New York to play with the faculty this year which included: Kelly Jefferson (saxophone), Brian O’Kane (trumpet), Ted Warren (drums), Mike Downes (bass), Earl MacDonald (piano) and Mike Rud (guitar). We also had the pleasure of having Heather Bambrick perform. It was an evening of fantastic music and great stories. The kids that attended camp had a great time and all played a great concert on Friday night in Victoria Park. The 2013 edition of the JAZZFM91 Youth Big Band also performed in Kincardine this year with special guests from the faculty filling a couple of holes!



In September we auditioned the 2014 JAZZFM91 Youth Big Band. It is a great group again this year with tons of talented kids and dedicated parents! We were really rushed to prepare for our first performance of the year with Joey DeFrancesco in November. He came from Phoenix Arizona to spend the weekend with the kids and play a concert at the Old Mill which will be broadcast in the new year. He is a great guy and was really inspirational for the kids to work with! Such a great opportunity for the kids! Thanks JAZZFM91!


I am planning on applying to the Master’s program at University of Toronto for the fall of 2014. Thanks to Gordon Foote and Terry Promane for helping me make this opportunity possible. I have never been a great student….odd that I am in my fourteenth year of teaching for the Toronto District School Board. I am looking forward to getting back on the horn on a regular basis and being inspired by all the young guys and girls that are working hard at the music. I think it’s really exciting time to be in the music faculty at U of T!

Tons of exciting performances coming up in the New Year! Please check the calendar for dates!

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