2022/23

Toronto Jazz Academy Orchestra

Masterclass Series




Alex Dean- Saxophone Fundamentals

Alex Dean, one of Canada’s foremost jazz saxophonists, has been a mainstay of the Canadian music scene for many years. He has played and recorded with Gil Evans, Kenny Wheeler, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick Jr., Phil Nimmons, the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

Alex held the tenor saxophone chair with Rob McConnell’s Grammy award winning Boss Brass and, the Juno award winning Rob McConnell Tentet.


He has collaborated extensively on C.D’s as side man with Canadian and American Jazz Artists. The Alex Dean Quartet/Quintet recordings include the newly released At this Point (November 2010), Dreamsville, Both Feet, and Kaitlyn’s Waltz. Kaitlyn’s Waltz was voted Best Jazz CD of 1994 by The Jazz Report and one of the Top Ten Jazz CD releases by New York’s Village Voice. He was also voted Jazz Musician of the Year by the Toronto Star.







Brian O'Kane-The Art of Brass Playing

Brian O’Kane holds a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Toronto. Brian has performed and recorded with some of Canada’s finest groups and ensembles including John MacLeod’s Rex Hotel Jazz Orchestra (2011 Juno Award winner), the Rob McConnell Tentet, The Boss Brass, Hilario Duran’s Latin Jazz Big Band (2007 Juno Award winner), the Barry Elmes Quintet, the Dave Young Quintet, as well as the bands led by Ron Collier, Peter Appleyard, Don Thompson, Bernie Senensky, Kirk MacDonald, Barry Romberg, and Paul Read.

He has also worked with a lengthy list of national and international artists and entertainers including Paquito D’Rivera, Maria Schneider, Steve Swallow, Gap Mangione, Aretha Franklin, Paul Anka, Diana Krall, Dave Brubeck, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Barbra Streisand. Brian has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Canada Pops Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Orchestra London, the Trillium Brass Quintet, and True North Brass.

He has appeared on numerous television/radio jingles and has performed as a pit musician, having played in shows including The Producers, The Full Monty, West Side Story, Chicago. Brian is currently a resident member of the Shaw Festival Orchestra in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Brian has been featured as Guest Artist at numerous schools of every level across Canada, has played at major jazz festivals throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe, has frequently served as an adjudicator/clinician for Musicfest Canada and Kiwanis Music Festivals and was recently honoured to be a featured artist at the 33rd Annual International Trumpet Guild Conference held in Banff, Alberta.




Kelsley Grant- Improvisation 101


Kelsley holds a Bachelor of Music from McGill University and completed his Graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music. Shortly after leaving New York he joined Maynard Fergusonʼs Big Bop Noveau and toured the United States, Germany, Switzerland and England. Kelsley has performed with Aretha Franklin, Jackie Richardson, Frank Sinatra Jr., Michael Buble, Maria Schneider, Michel LeGrand, Nicholas Payton, Sophie Milman, Ranee Lee and Karen Young.

He toured with Forever Swing and took part in the Toronto productions of Annie, Romancing The One I Love, Ainʼt Misbehavinʼ, The Rat Pack, Kinky Boots and Matilda. He has played on several movie soundtracks including Born To Be Blue, Cirque de Soleil-Alegria and Les Triplettes De Belleville.

Kelsley has been twice nominated for trombonist of the year by the National Jazz Awards. He has composed and arranged for many ensembles. The Jefferson-Grant Quintet, won an Opus Award for their first recording and was nominated Acoustic Ensemble of the Year by the National Jazz Awards. Kelsley has served as a faculty member at McGill University and has given Master Classes and clinics at Universities across Canada. He is currently on Faculty at Humber College andUniversity of Toronto.






Mike Downes- Creating a Solid Groove


Multiple JUNO award winner Mike Downes has been a prominent Canadian bassist, composer, arranger and educator since the early 1980s. His musicality, emotional depth and melodic approach to the bass have thrilled audiences in Europe, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Iceland, the United States and Canada. In addition to leading his own groups, Mike has performed with virtually all of Canada's top jazz musicians, including Molly Johnson, Oliver Jones, PJ Perry, Lorne Lofsky, Don Thompson, Kirk MacDonald, Robi Botos and Pat LaBarbera. He has performed with international artists Pat Metheny, Chris Potter, Michael Brecker, John Abercrombie, Peter Erskine, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Dave Liebman and many others.

Helping to mentor and inspire young musicians is an important component of Mike’s career. He has been the Bass Department Head at prestigious Humber College in Toronto since 2000. He has also been featured as a Yamaha artist/clinician throughout Canada, at the Paekche Institute in Seoul, South Korea and the infamous Conservatoire de Paris. Mike is the author of The Jazz Bass Line Book published by Advance Music of Germany. The book is receiving world-wide acclaim as one of the most informative books available on the subject. He is also co-author of Jazz and Popular Music Theory.