The Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra (SJO) is committed to presenting the highest caliber professional large jazz ensemble music through its programming and through the featuring of local and nationally/internationally celebrated jazz talent. Through these concert activities the SJO delivers top-quality art music to the city of Saskatoon and beyond while professionally developing many of our own established and emerging jazz musicians.
While some SJO concerts are retrospective in nature (e.g. Friends Remembered 2015 SK. tour, Tribute to Duke Ellington, Tribute to Frank Sinatra), others are visionary (e.g. 2014 jazz festival performance of Phil Dwyer’s Changing Seasons <for large jazz orchestra, string orchestra and classical solo violinist Mark Fewer>, large ensemble orchestrations of Mike Rud’s Juno award winning CD Notes on Montreal). All concerts feature important current and emerging musicians whose work intersects with the large jazz ensemble idiom specifically.
For many years SJO Artistic Director Dean McNeill directed the Metro Jazz Ensemble of Saskatoon (MJE), which was the precursor and indeed the inspiration for the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra.
What past SJO guest artists are saying:
Carol Weisman writes: In 2008 I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to perform (as both a vocalist and pianist) with the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra for the Saskatoon Jazz Festival. Knowing Dean McNeill as a trumpet soloist of the highest calibre, I knew that performing with SJO would be a very memorable musical experience. The level of musicianship was world class; the SJO deserves its national and international recognition. I was impressed with the inclusion of young students in the rhythm section who were clearly aspiring talents. The band embraced all sorts of different musical styles with ease and authenticity. I only hope to be invited back to perform with the SJO again.
Phil Dwyer C.M.: Kudos to Dean McNeill and the SJO for pulling off a great performance of my Changing Seasons piece at the 2014 SaskTel Jazz Festival. Everything from the organizational to the playing was top-notch and I predict more exciting things from this group in the future.