University of Saskatchewan
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Jazz Ensemble




Band Bio:  Including both music and non-music majors currently attending the UofS the UofS Jazz Ensemble has in recent years toured western Canada, northern USA, Quebec, and has commissioned and premiered many new works for large jazz ensemble. This ensemble has released 5 CDs in their Bumper Crop series and has performed in Edmonton’s acclaimed Winspear concert hall as a featured ensemble at the Cantando Music Festival. Past guest artists have included Allen Vizzutti, Mike Rud, Eileen Laverty, Grammy award winner Slide Hampton and Juno award winners Hugh Fraser, Jon Ballantyne, Campbell Ryga as well as may others.

Audition Information: There are auditioned spots available in this ensemble for 5 trumpets, 5 trombones, 5 saxes (i.e. soprano, alto tenor, bari), 2 french horns, guitar, piano, bass, drums, percussion, and vocals. All spots in the ensemble are auditioned each semester. Auditions take place in room 1054 of the Education Building on the first two days of classes in September and January.

When student demand and departmental teaching resources allow the department also offers a non-credited non-auditioned UofS Jazz Ensemble 2. This ensemble rehearses once per week when offered.

Audition Content: Jazz Ensemble 1 auditions are short and consist of sight-reading (i.e. a short passage in the medium swing style and tempo), scales (e.g. Chromatic, Bb and F concert), performing an excerpt from a prepared piece of the student’s choice in any musical style (optional), and, improvising over a 12 bar Bb blues (optional). Drums, bass amp, and guitar amp are provided in these low-pressure short 5-minute auditions.

Audition sign up sheets are posted on Education Building room 1054 door 2 weeks prior to September and January audition dates.

For more information regarding any aspect of the UofS Jazz Ensemble(s) contact Dean McNeill at, 306-966-6169.

Make a Donation: The UofS offers courses in Jazz Theory (i.e. Jazz Materials), Jazz History, Jazz Improvisation, Jazz Pedagogy, Large Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Arranging, and Jazz Special Topics. Contact the UofS Department of Music if you wish to make a donation in support the UofS Jazz Area.


2013-2014 Jazz Ensemble Dates & Events

  1. The UofS Jazz Ensemble 1 rehearses twice per week with 1 and 0 credit registration options available for UofS students; this ensemble rehearses Mondays 5:00-6:20 PM & Wednesdays 5:00-6:00 PM September-March.
  2. The UofS Summer Jazz Ensemble is a non-credited departmental activity. This ensemble rehearses once per week (TBA) April – June in preparation for their Saskatchewan Jazz Festival late-June performance. Participation in the UofS Summer Jazz Ensemble is not a requirement nor component of participating in the September-March UofS Jazz Ensemble.
  3. September 5&6, 2013: Term 1 Auditions
  4. September 9, 2013: 1st Rehearsal, 5:00 PM, Quance Theatre
  5. October 4, 2013: Performance at Saskatoon Jazz Society’s The Bassment jazz club, Doors 8:00 PM, Concert 9:00 PM
    2. Tickets $10/$15 sold at the door or on line at
  6. October 14, 2013: Thanksgiving, UofS closed (no jazz rehearsal)
  7. October 26 2013: UofS Jazz Area Big Band Dance Fundraiser.
    1. Location, tickets, time: TBA
  8. November 15, 2013: UofS Jazz Ensemble Semester-End Concert, Quance Theatre, UofS Education Building, 7:30 PM, Tickets available at the door @ $5/$10.
  9. November 23, 2013: SJS Jazz Workshop-Related Performance:
    1. 9:00 - 10:30 AM clinic with Wycliffe Gordon and Rodney Whitaker, UofS Education Building TV Studio (free admission for spectators).
    2. 8:00 PM 1-set performance by UofS Jazz Ensemble, Bassment jazz club with Wycliffe Gordon and Rodney Whitaker sitting in.
  1. January 6&7 , 2014: Term 2 Jazz Auditions
  2. January 8, 2014: 1st Jazz Ensemble rehearsal, 5:00 PM, room 1036
  3. January 12, 2014: Professor Dean McNeill’s Fine Arts Research Lecture Series (i.e. FARLS) Jazz Trumpet History lecture/recital, free admission, 7:30 PM, UofS Convocation Hall.
  4. February 7, 2014: UofS Wind Orch/Jazz Ensemble joint concert
    1. Quance Theatre, 7:30 PM, silver collection
  5. February 17-21, 2014: Spring Break (no classes)
  6. March 2, 2014: UofS Greystone Singers & UofS Jazz Ensemble joint concert, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, E.A. Roninson Centre For the Arts,
  7. March 7, 2014: UofS Jazz Ensemble performance at Saskatoon Jazz Society’s The Bassment jazz club, Doors 8:00 PM, Concert 9:00 PM
    2. Tickets $10/$15 sold at the door or on line at
  8. March 8-9, 2014: UofS Jazz Ensemble studio recording (part of Bumper Crop VI CD to be released in the summer of 2014)
  9. April 5, 2014: UofS Jazz Ensemble Semester-End Concert, Quance Theatre, UofS Education Building, 7:30 PM, Tickets available at the door @ $5/$10.
  10. April, 2014: Contact Dean McNeill re auditions for 2014 UofS Summer Jazz Ensemble.
  11. June 2014: 2014 UofS Summer Jazz Ensemble performance at Saskatchewan Jazz Festival (date/time TBA)

For more UofS jazz-area related information contact Professor Dean McNeill, 306-966-6169,

For information on the UofS 18 Credit Unit Minor in Jazz Studies visit:


Last Year Jazz Ensemble Activities:

Under the direction of Professor Dean McNeill the UofS 2012-2013 Jazz Ensemble commissioned and premiered new works for large jazz ensemble, recorded repertoire for their 6th Bumper Crop CD (i.e. to be released this coming summer), performed repertoire for vocals, jazz guitar, rhythm section and string quartet by and with Canadian jazz guitar sensation Mike Rud Our fall 2012 semester-end performance included as guest artists, trumpet virtuoso Allen Vizzutti and Saskatchewan-based singer/songwriter Eileen Laverty

Repertoire for all our concerts includes a selection of classic jazz standards and original compositions. We are proud that our concerts feature both music and non-music majors currently attending the UofS.


Since Dean McNeill began directing the University of Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble in 1998, this group has performed throughout Western Canada and recorded five compact disks in their Bumper Crop CD series. Featured guest artists have included Dr. Craig Brenan, Mark DeJong, Gordon Foote (McGill University), Greg Gatien (Brandon University), Dan Haerle (University of North Texas), Steve Haines (Miles Davis Institute, Greensborough), Mike Herriott, Jens Lindemann (U.C.L.A.), Joe Luloff (North Western University), Brian O’Kane, Billy Proutin (Keyano College), David Renter (University of Lethbridge), Dave Robbins, Campbell Ryga (Juno Award Winner), Rob Sommervillie, Brad Turner (Juno Award Winner), Paul Tyanan (St. FX University), Ross Ulmer, Mike Vax, Andre´ White (McGill University), and Bret Zvacek (Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam). The ensemble has also worked in clinics with the likes of Jon Ballantyne (two-time Juno award winner), Hugh Fraser (Juno Award winner), and Slide Hampton plus many of the above guest artists. This group has twice performed in Edmonton’s acclaimed Winspear concert hall at the Cantando Music Festival and in of January 2009, the group toured Montreal visiting McGill University as an invited Student-Ensemble-In-Residence at the Schulich School of Music.

The UofS Jazz Ensemble’s five Bumper Crop CDs have included include: 1) Bumper Crop (released in 2001), 2) Bumper Crop II-Outstanding in their Fields (2003), 3) Bumper Crop III-Prairie Rhythms(2005), 4) Bumper Crop IV-Perceptions (2007), and Bumper Crop V-Water Colors (2010).

Bumper Crop V was released at the jazz ensembles first-ever jazz reunion concert.
Bumper Crop IV features UofS student composer Paul Suchan and guest artist Drummer/Dancer Joseph Ashong as well as many students within the ensemble. Bumper Crop IIIfeatures all-Canadian talent (performers and arrangers alike), two guest artists (i.e. UofS Sessional instructor Mark DeJong-Saxophone and Saskatchewan based musician Ross Ulmer-Trombone), and, original compositions by ensemble director Dean McNeill.

All these CD projects serve to archive the ensemble’s performance activity as well as to raise funds for the jazz area in the Department of Music and to promote the department, college, and university. To purchase one of these CDs or for more information about this ensemble visit or contact Dean McNeill at 966-6169 (



Kenderdine Jazz Retreat

August 6-11, 2012: Thirty-one aspiring and mid career Canadian musicians met the UofS Kenderdine Campus at Emma Lake ( for an intensive jazz retreat to discuss jazz composition and performance from a variety of perspectives. Activities included lectures from selected participants (e.g. MacEwan University Music head Allan Gilliand, UofT Emeritus Professor Paul Read, Canadian guitar sensation Mike Rud, two time Juno award winner pianist David Braid, Canadian drum sensation Jon McCaslin, UofS Prof. of Brass/Jazz Dean McNeill), large and small ensemble rehearsals and performances (i.e. of new works), and jam sessions. A lot of wonderful music was displayed, discussed, and ruminated upon. This is the second time the UofS has hosted a jazz retreat of this kind at its Emma Lake Kenderdine campus. For more information about this retreat or for information about future such retreats contact Jazz Composer's and Performers Retreat Artistic Administrator Dean McNeill at The UofS gratefully acknowledges the support of the Saskatchewan Band Association, Sask Culture, Sask Lotteries, and Yamaha Piano Centre & Roger and Marie Jolly.


The UofS Department of Music offers an 18 credit unit minor in Jazz Studies. Related courses include Jazz Materials (jazz theory), Jazz Improvisation, Jazz History, Jazz Pedagogy, Jazz Arranging, African Drumming, and Jazz Ensemble.

Course descriptions:

Jazz Ensemble 1 & 2 (either as a zero credit unit or 1 credit unit option): Jazz Ensemble 1 performs traditional and contemporary repertoire including student compositions. This ensemble has released 4 CDs and performs throughout western Canada. Jazz Ensemble 2 performs at the end of each semester along side Jazz Ensemble 1 at Saskatoon’s jazz venue the Bassment. Audition is required for both ensembles (first day of classes, each semester).

Jazz Materials (MUS 184.3): This 100-level course is the prerequisite for Jazz Arranging (MUS 386.3), Jazz Pedagogy (EMUS 337.3), and Jazz Improvisation (MUS 283.3). It is also the suggested pre or co-requisite for Jazz Ensemble 1 and Jazz Ensemble 2. This course introduces students to jazz theory, jazz keyboard skills, jazz ear training, and transcribing skills.

Jazz Improvisation (MUS 283.3): This course focuses on musical skills pertaining to the performance of jazz improvisation. This course assumes little pre-existing knowledge of jazz improvisation, but does presume a significant level of instrumental proficiency. Prerequisite: Jazz Materials (MUSIC 184.3).

Jazz History Survey (MUS 285.3): This course studies the history of the jazz tradition from its origins to the present. Chronologically organized, this course examines the musical environment in the southern United States at the turn of the 19th century then proceeds through the musical styles of ragtime, traditional jazz, stride piano, swing, bebop, post bop, cool jazz, west coast jazz, fusion, funk, R & B, and contemporary jazz. Prerequisite: The successful completion of 24 credit units at the UofS or by permission of the Department.

Jazz Pedagogy (EMUS 337.3) Previously entitled Jazz Ensemble Techniques this course explores the diverse area of jazz pedagogy as taught within a secondary school music program. An excellent addition to any music educator’s résumé. Prerequisites: Jazz Materials (MUS 184.3).

Jazz Arranging (MUS 386.3) In introduction to jazz arranging, this course develops student’s jazz composition and arranging skill set. Topics include the study of advanced chord/scale relationships, ensemble orchestration techniques for large and small jazz ensembles, and the topical score study of specific jazz composers. Prerequisite: Jazz Materials (MUSIC 183.3).

West African Drumming (MUS 298.3-Special Topics): Strongly linked to folklore, myth and proverb this course examines (through performance practice) some of the many musical and culturally-related traditions from west African. There are no prerequisites for this course however registration through permission of the department is required.

For more information regarding any aspect of the jazz offerings, contact jazz area chair Dean McNeill

You can listen to the Jazz Ensemble by clicking here.

Click here to order any of the Jazz Ensemble CD's - Order CD

Do you want to see more photos of the Jazz Ensemlbe? Click here.


Prof. Raymon Vasquez sitting in with the band during rehearsal.


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