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Jazz Appreciation Month: Hear Two Young Ensembles from McGill University in Montreal

Courtesy of the artist
Bassist Cole Birney-Stewart, a graduate student at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University

Montreal is home to the largest jazz festival in the world, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. So it’s no surprise that the city is also the home to one of the most prestigious music schools in Canada, The Schulich School of Music of McGill University. Pianist Jean-Michel Pilc is Associate Professor and Jazz Area Chair at McGill. We have performances by two of the university's star pupils.  

Bassist, composer and bandleader and McGill graduate student Cole Birney-Stewart leads a sextet, among other musical projects. This group recently released its debut album, Champlain Bridge.

The Cole Birney-Stewart Sextet features some of the best younger musicians on the Montreal scene today: Jules Payette on alto saxophone, Evan Shay on tenor saxophone, Maxime Tremblay-Rheault on guitar, Matt Choboter on piano and Andrew Thomson on drums.

Listen to 88.3FM for three original compositions from the recording, or hear four of them in the playlist below.

Alec Schulman

Also in our playlist is the 18-year-old pianist, composer and band leader Alec Schulman. A recent graduate from Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica, Calif., he is in his first year at the Schulich School of Music. He won the 2017 Downbeat Award for Best Original Composition, and was named a semifinalist in the International Songwriting Competition. Alec has studied with Pilc, Aaron Parks and Billy Hart, among others.

His ensemble includes Birney-Stewart and Shay along with Julian Jayme on guitar, Chris Edmonson on soprano saxophone and Louis-Vincent Hamel on drums. The three original compositions he presents for JAM include "Icarus," a vocal tune featuring fellow student Emma Rose and acclaimed soprano saxophonist and McGill professor Christine Jensen.

Carolyn's career in radio spans well over two decades, most of which have been spent wrapped up in the world of Jazz. It always seems to start with college radio, and for Carolyn that was no exception. Little did she know then that the music she was being introduced to at the University of Wisconsin campus station would remain a near constant in her life. Upon moving to New York City in 1993, it just so happened that a temp agency placed her in a very sweet spot - at WQEW-AM where she worked in the programming department under the tutelage of Program Director Stan Martin and alongside Jonathan Schwartz and other legendary radio hosts. It was there where her love of jazz vocalists began, not just on the radio, but also by seeing many perform live.