Jazzworks 2023

The Jazzworks Non-Competitive Band Festival (NCBF) provides an enhanced workshop experience for junior/senior high school students playing within large jazz ensembles. Band leaders and students from all over the province will take to the Yardbird Suite to perform, learn and create new memories with their peers. The event will run March 8-10, 2023 at the Yardbird Suite.




Each ensemble will have the opportunity to work through 2-3 songs with two adjudicators. Sessions are recorded on an SD card and given to each band director, along with adjudicator notes, at the end of their clinic.

COST: $500 +GST


Each night of the festival ends with a showcase at the Yardbird Suite. Ensembles are give 30 minute timeslots to perform for their peers and concert-goers. Capacity may be limited due to venue regulations therefore priority seating will be given to the students performing on each particular night.

Cost: $150 +GST, plus $10 for each additional person for groups with over 15 people

Special Event Offering: Each year the EJFS likes to offer a special experience for participating students. This year the activity will be offered free of charge and will take place during the lunch break. We have decided to survey participating band directors to see if they would prefer students to observe a free showcase by the Edmonton Jazz Orchestra/Collective or attend and participate in a group improv clinic hosted by the clinicians alongside the Edmonton Jazz Collective. Please let us know which yo would prefer


This 45-minute performance will feature the Edmonton Jazz Orchestra sight reading material for festival participants. This is a festival favourite. Expressed interest is needed when registering.

COST: Free to participating ensembles


This 45-minute session explores jazz improvisation with performance examples as well as for the opportunities for students to ask questions and join in on stage with the band. A favourite for both band directors and students. Expressed interest is needed when registering.

COST: Free to participating ensembles



Edmonton-based trumpeter, Joel Gray, has been performing professionally for 30 years. He’s  shared the stage with some of the world’s finest artists, including Tommy Banks, PJ Perry, Slide Hampton, Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra Jr., Wayne Newton, Nikki Yanovsky, Gino Vannelli, and the Don Berner Big Band, to name a few. He’s a regular performer and feature soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and most recently recorded on a Juno nominated album, “Rhapsody in Blue” with Jens Lindemann, and the Maria Dunn’s Juno award winning album “Joyful Banner Blazing”. Joel also leads various groups, including BOK Brass, Spanky and Music Makers, the High Society Jazz Band, and other solo projects.

As an educator, Joel taught for 20 years at the jazz program at MacEwan University, as well as Keyano College, and Augustana University. He has adjudicated for jazz and band festivals all over Western Canada, including for the Cantando Music Festivals, Rocky Mountain Music Festivals, and the Kiwanis Music Festival.  He is the director of MusiCamp Alberta and also the director of the Littlebirds Jazz Bands.



Aretha Tillotson is a Canadian bassist, band leader and composer. As a jazz musician, Aretha has played across North America with Kris Davis, Francesca Remigi, Allan Chase, Josh Rosen, Jeff Antoniuk, and and her own quartet. As a session musician, she has worked as touring/resident bassist on the Broadway rendition of SIX, and will is touring Summer/Fall 2022 with Universal artist Mick Flannery.

Aretha was honoured to receive a presidential scholarship in 2020 to attend Berklee’s Global Jazz Masters program, receiving an individual mentorship with John Patitucci as well as studying with Linda May Han Oh, Joe Lovano, and Danilo Perez., she received her Masters of Music in 2022 in jazz performance.

Aretha resides as faculty as a bass/ensemble professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada.



We are delighted to present this event at the Yardbird Suite at 11 Tommy Banks Way, in Edmonton. Currently all events are scheduled for this site. If more spots are needed we will expand the event to include the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre.


Known for his work with the Fred Mack Quartet, Good Nature, and the Ukrainian band Euphoria, Fred is an accomplished performer, composer, teacher and recording artist with two albums under his belt. He completed his music degree at MacEwan University in 2017 and is excited to join the team. He has first hand experience with this event, being a past participant himself. He is committed to supporting the traditions of this event and is here to help in any way he can. fred@edmontonjazz.com


Questions about the events? Email Festival Director – Fred Mack fred@edmontonjazz.com
Need help with registration? Email admin at nathalie@edmontonjazz.com

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