Formed in 1998, the 18-piece Toronto Jazz Orchestra is one of Toronto’s most exciting big bands. Created to perform music by some of the most important composers in jazz (including Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Phil Nimmons, Rob McConnell and more), their repertoire now includes compositions and arrangements ranging from classic swing tunes to the leading edge of contemporary jazz. The Toronto Jazz Orchestra seeks to educate, entertain, and increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of big band jazz.
Over the past fifteen years the Toronto Jazz Orchestra has performed regularly at Toronto’s Rex Hotel and has released three recordings: their self-titled debut (2001), Under A Tree (2003) and The Path (2009). The ensemble won top prize at the Markham Jazz Festival’s Jazz Stars of the Future competition in 2000, and has since appeared in the JVC, Beaches, Lakefield, Markham and TD Toronto Jazz Festivals. The ensemble has also performed at the Milton Centre for the Arts and at the Richmond Hill Performance Arts Centre.
As part of their regular performance schedule, the Toronto Jazz Orchestra has undertaken several special projects including: the Cuban Fire Suite (as recorded by the Stan Kenton Orchestra); an evening with Phil Nimmons, featuring a performance of The Atlantic Suite; music from West Side Story, featuring 12 new arrangements by 5 local composers; Miles Ahead, with guest trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, featuring the original Gil Evans arrangements from the Gil Evans/Miles Davis collaboration; and four editions of the Radiohead Jazz Project, each of which featured standing-room-only crowds. The ensemble has also presented tributes to the orchestras of Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington (including a performance of the Such Sweet Thunder Suite), Buddy Rich and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis.
The Toronto Jazz Orchestra has been honoured to perform with a variety of guest artists including local musicians Phil Nimmons and Kevin Turcotte, and special out-of-town guests Ingrid Jensen, Geoffrey Keezer, Seamus Blake and Grammy Award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling.
In 2004, the Toronto Jazz Orchestra created the Young Composers Competition, which has evolved into an annual Call for Scores, resulting in submissions from composers across Canada. The performance of Canadian repertoire is a key component of the Toronto Jazz Orchestra mandate, and each year the ensemble presents “O Canada”, a performance exclusively featuring original Canadian big band compositions.
The Toronto Jazz Orchestra was nominated for a 2006 National Jazz Award in the Best Big Band Category, and has been awarded grants by the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Toronto Jazz Orchestra founder, Artistic Director and Conductor Josh Grossman is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Jazz Performance Program where he studied trumpet with Chase Sanborn and Kevin Turcotte. He has performed in big bands under the direction of Phil Nimmons, Paul Read, Ron Collier and Paul Ashwell, and has played with The Whitney Smith Big Steam Band, Freeflight, the Array Jazz Orchestra, the Hamilton All-Star Jazz Band and the Chris Hunt Tentet. Josh has been Artistic Director for Toronto Downtown Jazz, which produces the annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival, since 2010, and has been Administrator for Continuum Contemporary Music since 2007.