Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
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Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra

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Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra - self-titled (2005)
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra - Steppin' Out (2008)



The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra (WJO) is the only community-based professional jazz orchestra in Canada; its equal can be found in only a handful of major U.S. cities. Dr. Richard Gillis and Sasha Boychouk founded the WJO in 1997, inspired by a vision of forming a professional big band with the best emerging and veteran musicians in Winnipeg.

Gillis and Boychouk sensed a potential audience that was not being served; their familiarity with the Winnipeg music environment (the key players, the marketplace, and the community's appetite for jazz) gave them confidence in the capabilities of local musicians. Out of their natural savvy and inherent enthusiasm, the WJO was born.

Commissioning new works and working with students and young musicians is an integral part of the WJO vision. Today, the orchestra roster boasts 18 to 25 musicians whose combined resumes touch every corner of performance jazz locally, nationally, and around the world.

WJO's popularity has grown steadily over the course of the band’s first ten years - from small, informal events at the West End Cultural Centre, to a six-concert season and sold-out performances at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Guests like Dave Young, Bobby Shew, Ron Paley, Andy Farber, Kevin Mahogany, Allan Harris, Fred Stride, Phil Dwyer, Miguel Zenon and many others frequently grace the WJO stage.

2008/09 marks the WJO's 12th season – one which boasts guest artists Curtis Fuller and Hilario Duran alongside exciting new compositions and cutting-edge arrangements from its talented band members. Truly, the Orchestra hasn’t skipped a beat as they enter their second decade poised to embrace a very bright future.