2019 Adjudicators

Bill Kristjanson currently teaches “Introduction to Jazz for Music Educators” at the University of Manitoba. Most recently a Band Director at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, he has many years of experience teaching jazz from grades 7 through 12. While teaching at Glenlawn Collegiate the band performed at the “International Association of Jazz Educators Conference.”

He is the recipient of the Manitoba Jazz Educator of the Year Award, served as a Divisional Music Consultant in Pembina Trails and Louis Riel School Divisions, is on the Board of the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, and is a member of the Big Dig Band. Bill is also a contributor to the GIA publication, Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz Volume 2.

Kevin Willms was born and raised in Calgary. In June of 2018, he “graduated” after teaching instrumental and choral music for the Calgary Board of Education last 31 years. During this time, Aberhart High School. His ensembles consistently performed at “Superior” levels and have received much recognition for their outstanding performances at local and international music festivals. His ensembles commissioned several new works for wind band and jazz ensemble and performed across Canada and the USA as well as in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, Spain, China and Cuba.

Mr. Willms has been the Artistic Director of the Westwinds Music Society for 22 years. Westwinds is an adult community music organization dedicated to providing exceptional music education to adults of all levels of experience. www.westwindsmusic.org

The Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education, recognized internationally as CADME was formed in 2003 with Mr. Willms as its founding President. He continues to serve in this role. CADME is a not-for-profit charity born from the vision of dedicated music educators committed to enhancing and expanding music education for all students in the Calgary region. www.cadme.ca

Mr. Willms is active as a clinician, guest conductor and adjudicator. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the “Elkhorn Award” from the Alberta Band Association, “David Peterkin Memorial Award” from Phi Beta Mu, Pan Canadian Students Choice Award, Excellence in Teaching Award and the Tommy Banks Award, recognizing his long-term contribution to music education in Alberta. He was named “Educator of the Year” by the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation. In December, 2017, Mr. Willms was inducted as Laureate to the John Philip Sousa Legion of Honour

Mentorship and contributing to the broader development of music education has always been an important priority. Mr. Willms is very proud to be a Senior Advisor with “Music Mentors International”. This unique organization specializes in providing music educators with intensive workshops in rehearsal techniques as well as pedagogical concepts designed to assist teachers in building the best ensembles and musical communities possible. www.mmiachieve.com

John Knutson is Director of Choral Studies at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA. He is also a member of the professional vocal jazz ensemble Vocalogy, formed by Phil Mattson in 1998. Before moving to California, John taught at Southwestern Community College in Iowa. While at Southwestern, he performed all over the US and Europe with the award-winning vocal jazz group VoicesIowa. Prior to that John lived in New York, where he taught vocal music at JHS #263 in Brooklyn, and performed with the acappella cabaret group, the QuintEssentials.

Cuesta Voce performed at the Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans in 2017, and in Reno in 2019. They have been headliners at the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival several times, and also headlined the 2009 California Music Educators Convention. They received 2nd place at the Vokal Total Festival in Austria against professional choirs from Europe and Asia. Under his direction, the Cuesta Chamber Singers performed at the Festival International Choral en Provence in 2008. Other prestigious performances include the 2005 American Choral Directors Association National Convention in Los Angeles, the 2005 Montreux Jazz Festival, and the 2003 International Association for Jazz Education Convention in Toronto. He directed the California All-State Vocal Jazz Choir in 2006, and in May 2009 John was named Cuesta College’s Teacher of the Year.

John has served as a clinician at jazz and choral festivals in 18 states, and in four Canadian provinces. John has numerous choral compositions; his vocal jazz arrangements are available through UNC Jazz Press.

John holds a Masters in Conducting degree from Northern Arizona University and a Bachelors in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota.

Justin Binek is an internationally recognized singer, pianist, educator, and composer/arranger. He is a contributing author to Diana Spradling’s groundbreaking book, Jazz Singing: Developing Artistry and Authenticity, his music is published by Sound Music Publications and Kerry Marsh Music, and he is one of the featured in-app clinicians on Michele Weir’s ScatAbility iOS app for vocal jazz improvisation. Justin has presented and performed at numerous IAJE, ISME, and JEN conferences, he has twice appeared as a guest artist and teacher at the Standard Bank (South Africa) National Youth Jazz Festival, and his most recent album as a bandleader, Songbook, was released in 2013.

Dr. Binek teaches at Kansas City Kansas Community College, where he specializes in music theory and jazz improvisation, and he also serves on the faculties of the Halewynstichting Jazz Workshop (Belgium), the Jazz Harmony Retreat (Iowa), and the ProMusic Summer Camp (Ohio). He is a member of the NAfME Council for Jazz Education. Justin earned a DMA from the University of North Texas, where his dissertation focused on the evolution of Ella Fitzgerald’s syllabic choices as a scat singer, and he previously held teaching positions at The University of the Arts and at the University of Mary.

Featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s mini series “One to Watch”, Toronto-based trumpeter/composer/educator John Pittman is in high demand as both a soloist and lead player on the jazz, commercial and salsa scenes because of his big sound, high energy and melodicism.. His playing has been described as having a “wide dynamic and emotional range” consisting of ideas that are “very unique” even when performing within more traditional contexts.

Pittman is the winner of several arts grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba, Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils, and FACTOR. He was named the 2006 -2007 Rayburn Wright Scholar and the 2007 Schirmer Prize winner for an outstanding performance major at the prestigious Eastman School of Music.

In Toronto, Pittman is featured on a regular basis as a member of The Heavyweights Brass Band, The Composers Collective Big Band, Conjunto Lacalu, and The Yani Borrell Orchestra.

Pittman has had the pleasure of performing/recording with such artists as Adonis Puentes, Jully Black, Byron Stripling, Wycliffe Gordon, Slide Hampton, Alvin Atkinson, Marian McPartland, Bill Dobbins, Peter Erskine, Rich Thompson, and Classic Albums Live. In addition, Pittman has had the opportunity to open for such varied artists as Herbie Hancock and Kool and The Gang.

An active educator and clinician, Pittman has taught at the Eastman School of Music, University of Manitoba and Silver Heights Collegiate. He has also served as a clinician/adjudicator throughout Canada and the United States. He currently teaches Instrumental Music at The Sterling Hall School in Toronto, Ontario.

Montreal-based saxophonist, composer and conductor Christine Jensen has been described as an original voice on the international jazz scene, and is regarded as one of Canada’s most compelling composers. She is a winner of the Downbeat Critic’s Poll for Rising Star Big Band, Arranger, and Soprano Saxophonist, as well as being a recipient of the Montreal International Jazz Festival’s 2017 Oscar Peterson Prize. She currently leads her own jazz orchestra as well as other diverse ensemble projects featuring her saxophone playing. “Jensen writes in three dimensions, with a quiet kind of authority that makes the many elements cohere. Wayne Shorter, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler come to mind.” –Downbeat.

Jensen has won two Juno Awards for her recordings with jazz orchestra, including Habitat (2014) and Treelines (2011). Four of her albums have been nominated for jazz album of the year with Quebec’s ADISQ awards. Habitat received five stars in Downbeat, along with being included at the top of several international critic’s polls, including Jazz Album of the Year in 2014. She was also profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered for her work with Habitat. She has topped 2014 critic’s polls for Album of the Year with CBC, Downbeat, NPR, Ottawa Citizen, and JazzTimes. A two-time recipient of the Hagood Hardy Prize from SOCAN, she has also received two Quebec Opus Awards for her big band recordings and concerts. Her recent collaborations as conductor and composer with Orchestre National Jazz Montreal have included conducting Terence Blanchard, Oliver Jones, the music of Carla Bley, as well as recording her suite Under the Influence, which won the 2017 Prix Opus for jazz recording of the year.

As a leader, Jensen has released three small ensemble recordings between 2000 and 2006. Along with her sister, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, she has co-led Nordic Connect, where they released two recordings, as well as touring Canada, US, and Scandinavia numerous times. Their latest recording, featuring Ben Monder on guitar was nominated for a 2017 Juno Award.

Jensen’s music has taken her all over the world, where she has received numerous commissions and conducting opportunities with jazz orchestras in Canada, the US and Europe. Recent residencies include Frost School of Music, The New School, Dartmouth College and MacEwan University. Collaborators have included Phil Dwyer, Ben Monder, Gary Smuylan, Geoffrey Keezer, Lenny Pickett, and Donny McCaslin. She has studied with Kenny Werner, Jim McNeely, Dick Oatts, Remi Bolduc and John Hollenbeck.


Trombonist Jules Estrin has appeared with many internationally renowned entertainers and musicians including: Clark Terry, Paul Anka, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, Don Menza, Rob McConnell, Moe Koffman, Matt Dusk, Kenny Wheeler and PJ Perry.

Jules has performed internationally in France, Scotland and the United States and a numerous jazz festivals across Canada.

In his 10th year as Musical Director of the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band the group has performed with legendary jazz artists Randy Brecker, BUcky Pizzarelli, Lew Tabackin, Tom Scott, Wycliffe Gordon, Joey DeFrancesco, PJ Perry and Guido Basso.

In 2010 Jules was named Jazz Program Coordinator/Artistic Director at the Kincardine Summer Music Festival.

A graduate of McGIll University, Mr. Estrin jas recently completed his Masters Degree at the University of Toronto.

Suba Sankaran

DORA award-winning, twice JUNO-nominated world/fusion vocalist Suba Sankaran has effortlessly combined musical worlds, performing across North America, Europe, Asia and Africa with Autorickshaw, master drummer Trichy Sankaran, FreePlay Duo and Retrocity (80s a cappella revue), to name a few. Performance highlights include performing for Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, and performing with Bobby McFerrin and the Swingle Singers.

Suba is in demand as a choral director, arranger, educator and composer. She has composed and produced music for theatre, film, radio and dance. Highlights include collaborations with Deepa Mehta and the CBC. She is currently artist-in-residence at Soulpepper and co-chair of the JUNO world music committee, as well as composer/arranger/sound designer for Anita Majumdar’s Same Same But Different (presented at Theatre Passe Muraille and Alberta Theatre Projects in February-March 2014).

Dylan Bell       In a word… multifaceted.

Juno-nominated Dylan Bell’s musical curiosity has kept him effortlessly crossing and blurring musical boundaries. Dylan is a mainstay on the Canadian music scene, having sung with many of Canada’s premiere vocal ensembles such as Cadence; Hampton Avenue, winner of Jazz Report’s Vocal Group of the Year; the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, and the 1980s-era vocal pop group Retrocity. When he’s not singing, he freelances as a keyboard player and bassist, working with varied artists from classical violinist Lara St. John, to world-music’s autorickshaw, to veteran rockers Honeymoon Suite.

Behind the mixing board, Dylan has produced or engineered several award-winning albums, including a Juno co-nomination as Best Engineer for the Cadence album Twenty For One, the most recent album with from world-renowned Swingle Singers from London, England, and an upcoming album with the a cappella legends The Nylons.

Dylan’s work as a composer and arranger has garnered international recognition, as winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition and a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award. His vocal arrangements are sung worldwide from Arnprior to Zurich. His choral compositions can be heard in such varying contexts as the Victoria Scholars, the Canadian Chamber Choir, and Cadence. Dylan is also in demand worldwide as an instrumental teacher and vocal/choral clinician.

Brennan Baglio is the Music Department Coordinator and Director of Vocal Studies at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, where he directs the Concert Choir, Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, and Studio Singers. Brennan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting, both from Central Washington University.

From 2007-2018, Brennan was the baritone and tour manager for the professional vocal jazz septet Groove For Thought. With Groove For Thought, Brennan toured the United States, Canada and Europe.

As a clinician and adjudicator, Brennan has been asked to present at the Jazz Education Network Conference as well as the Washington, Wyoming, and Utah Music Educators Association Conferences. He has also been asked to direct numerous honor choirs and be an adjudicator at jazz festivals throughout the country. Groups under Brennan’s direction have been asked to perform at regional and national conferences, including the 2018 Jazz Education Network Conference in Dallas, TX.

In addition to teaching and performing, Brennan maintains a busy schedule as a studio singer, producer and mix engineer, and arranger. He enjoys arranging for his own ensembles, has published several of his arrangements, and has sung on radio jingles, commercials, and other vocal projects.

Fred Stride has been an active professional musician in Vancouver, Canada for more than 30 years. A graduate of the UBC School of Music, Fred also studied in Los Angeles with Dick Grove at the Dick Grove Music Workshops. On his return to Vancouver Fred began his career in earnest, playing trumpet and arranging for various projects and ensembles. His skills soon brought him in contact with many prominent Vancouver band leaders including Bob Hales and Dave Robbins. Fred also spent about 10 years working with Tommy Banks on various television and theatre projects in both BC and Alberta, including the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

As a trumpet player Fred performed a wide range of gigs including concerts and shows with local and visiting entertainers and recording for both radio and television.

Fred has now set aside his trumpet and has been concentrating on composition. Besides writing for his own big band, The Fred Stride Jazz Orchestra, Fred has received numerous commissions from many performers and ensembles over the years including much of the music for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and original music for the Opening Ceremonies of Expo 86.

Besides his busy schedule as a composer and arranger Fred is also active as a guest conductor, teacher, clinician and adjudicator.

Fred, who has a Master’s degree in composition from the University of Victoria, also manages, “in his spare time,” to teach jazz theory, jazz arranging and direct the Jazz Ensemble I at the University of British Columbia.

Fred Stride is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers. Some of Fred’s jazz compositions are published by Sierra Music Publications.

Born and raised in Calgary, Kathie Van Lare received her B. Music, Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts (Wind Band Conducting) and Teacher Certification from the University of Calgary. Kathie also completed various courses in Jazz Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.

Kathie has been teaching secondary school music in the Calgary area since 1989 and is currently an Instrumental Music Director at Centennial High School and bands under Kathie’s direction have been the recipients of numerous “Superior” ratings and “Gold Awards” at many local, provincial and international festivals. Active as a guest conductor and adjudicator, Kathie has also served on faculty at Musicamrose and the Calgary Summer Band Workshop and is a member of the Band Masters’ Fraternity Phi Beta Mu. Kathie was the recipient of the Elkhorn Award in 2012 as “Director of the Year” was and the Vondis K. Miller Legacy award Alberta Music Conference in 2017, both presented by the Alberta Band Association.

Kathie also continues to be active as a trumpet player and has performed with many groups including among others, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Calgary Bach Society, Prime Time Big Band, Calgary Jazz Orchestra, Southern Stardust Big Band, Alberta Winds and Altius Brass.


Joel Green

Currently a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Band, Joel Green’s versatility on trombone has taken him all over Canada and abroad. A graduate of Humber College and University of Toronto, Mr. Green has studied with Alastair Kay and Gordon Wolfe. He has performed with artists such as Frank Sinatra Jr., Michael Bublé, Andrea Bocelli, Babyface, David Foster, Gladys Knight, Colin James, Roger Hodgson and Frankie Valli. An experienced pit orchestra musician, he has performed in many shows including South Pacific, 9 to 5, Wicked, The Addams Family, The Full Monty, Fiddler on the Roof, Dreamgirls, Mary Poppins, Lord of the Rings and Dirty Dancing. As a classical musician, he has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra London, Kingston Symphony, Contact Contemporary Music, Arraymusic Ensemble, the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra and many others. As an educator he has taught countless lessons, classes and clinics on trombone, theory, improvisation and brass technique. Prior to moving to Winnipeg he was part-time faculty at Humber College for both the degree program and Community Music School.

Jim MacKay

Jim Mackay has been active in teaching instrumental music, directing both concert and jazz ensembles, serving as a clinician and an adjudicator for a time that spans 50 years. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music, Jim attended the University of Iowa, The University of Northern Colorado, and the University of South Dakota where he received his Masters degree in Music and Music Education.

Jim taught 8 years in Iowa, British Columbia one year and 27 years in Manitoba of which 24 years were at Silver Heights Collegiate. He now resides in Matlock, Manitoba where his hobbies include woodworking and furniture restoration, gardening, and of course various music activities. He is excited to be back at the Brandon Jazz Festival and to meet and work with so many fine young talented musicians and great educators and teachers.

Bill Coon guitarist, arranger, composer and educator is a Juno nominated artist, one of Canada’s most sought-after musicians and winner of the 2009 National Jazz Awards, Guitarist of the Year.

He has performed and collaborated with many significant jazz artists including Peter Bernstein, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Sheila Jordan, P.J. Perry, Phil Dwyer, Dave Restivo, Sienna Dahlen, Campbell Ryga, Carol Welsman, Dee Daniels, Rebecca Kilgore, Lewis Nash and Peter Washington.

As well as being a member of the Capilano University Jazz faculty, Coon also teaches at the VSO School of Music and the BC Swing Workshop in Sorrento BC.

Coon’s recording highlights include, Departure, BC Double Quartet featuring Brad Turner and Scudders’ Groove with Ross Taggart as well as recordings with Jennifer Scott, Cory Weeds, Oliver Gannon, Miles Black, Jodi Proznick, Jill Townsend Jazz Orchestra and Eleanor McCain.

He has won awards from the BC Arts Council, the Socan Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.


Jonathan Bell has been teaching students from grades 5-12 with the Calgary Board of Education since 2001. Since then, Concert Bands, Jazz Bands and Choirs under his direction have won numerous first place finishes and gold/platinum awards both at the national and international level. Big Bands under his tutelage have shared the stage with Luis Bonilla, Ingrid Jensen, Victor Goines, Wycliffe Gordon, Bryan Lynch, Ted Nash, Dick Oatts, Marcus Printup, Maria Schneider, Terell Stafford, and Gary Smulyan to name a few. He completed his Bachelor of Education at the University of Calgary, received his Bachelor of Music at Queen’s University, and his Diploma in Jazz Studies (Performance) from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton.

Mr. Bell has had extensive musical experience playing in over a dozen professional musicals, numerous private and public dates, in addition to working with Carnival Cruise Lines as a Showband musician and arranger. Mr. Bell is currently active and in demand as a clinician, guest conductor and adjudicator.

In addition to his work as a clinician and adjudicator, Mr. Bell has been actively involved in developing curriculum for the Calgary Board of Education’s Locally Developed Courses since 2005. He is on the executive of CADME (Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education) www.cadme.ca, heading up the All-Ages Jam and other initiatives. Mr. Bell approaches each ensemble with a passion for discovery and has a soft spot in his heart for quality repertoire and music that sounds good. 

Originally from Montreal, Ken Gold is an active Winnipeg saxophonist in both the jazz and pop music scenes. Capitalizing on diversity and variety, he works on all the saxophones (flute, bass clarinet, guitar) and performs in a wide range of styles and settings. Ken has strong roots in bebop as well as R&B and latin music (afro-cuban and Brazilian). He is a regular member with many of Winnipeg’s finest ensembles including The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, The Ron Paley Band, Papa Mambo, The Danny Kramer Band. Ken plays pops concerts with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and also did three runs of the Jazz production of Cinderella with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Establishing himself in Winnipeg over the years, Ken has had the opportunity to play with many great musical artists and entertainers including: Remy Shand, Josh Groban, Mary Wilson (the Supremes), The Temptations, The Four Tops, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Bob Newhart, Big Mama Thornton, Louie Bellson, Diane Schuur, Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, John Faddis, Bill Watrous, Hilario Duran, Curtis Fuller, The Moscow Circus, and Ice Capades. He is a regular at the JazzWinnipeg festival and has also toured Canada with Papa Mambo. Ken has recorded on several CDs as well as many Radio Broadcasts (National CBC) and film soundtracks

Ken is currently teaching jazz combo & improvisation at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg. He has a long association with music education in Manitoba dating back to 1984. Ken has done workshops and adjudicating throughout the region for many years.

Additional biographies will be added as facilitators are confirmed for the 2019 festival.


The Brandon Jazz Festival is proud to announce several scholarships that will be awarded in partnership with our generous sponsors at the Brandon Jazz Festival and the recipients will be announced soon.

President's Brandon Jazz Festival Scholarship

The President’s Brandon Jazz Festival Scholarship covers full tuition for one year at the School of Music, Brandon University and will be awarded to an entering student who delivers an outstanding performance in a live audition during the Brandon Jazz Festival.

Applicants for the 2018 award must be eligible to attend Brandon University in the fall of 2018 and must gain admission to the School of Music.

Contact Heather Beesley to schedule an audition: 204-727-9631    BeesleyH@BrandonU.CA

International Music Camp Scholarships

The International Music Camp will award two camp scholarships each valued at $400 US, one each to an outstanding instrumental soloist and outstanding vocal soloist, as selected by the adjudicators. The recipients must use the scholarship to attend the respective jazz week at the camp held at the Peace Garden on the border of Manitoba and North Dakota during the summer of 2018. We appreciate the continued support of Tim Bauman, IMC Camp Director for generously donating these scholarships.

Yamaha - Outstanding Musician Awards

Yamaha is proud to sponsor two scholarships to recognize outstanding young musicians in Manitoba. Yamaha carries a complete line-up of instruments including keyboards, drums, bass guitars and all wind instruments and we appreciate their support of the talent in our school music programs.

Yamaha Top Brass Award: $200 towards the purchase of a Yamaha band instrument or Yamaha band accessories at St. John’s Music Winnipeg

Yamaha Top Woodwind Award: $200 towards the purchase of a Yamaha band instrument or Yamaha band accessories at St. John’s Music Winnipeg

University of Manitoba Summer Jazz Camp Scholarships

Two outstanding musicians selected by the adjudicators, will receive scholarships to the Summer Jazz Camp. The camp is hosted by the University of Manitoba in partnership with the Manitoba Band Association. Scholarships are generously donated by St. John’s Music and are to be used towards tuition at the 2018 Summer Jazz Camp.