Student jazz musicians see their licks and riffs recorded

The York University Student Jazz Ensemble, directed by music professor, alumnus and Juno Award-winning sax player Mike Murley (BFA ’86), will be recorded for broadcast on JAZZ.FM91 in a free public concert Tuesday, March 4, at 12:30pm, in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, 112 Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

The dynamic young quintet features Tom Ionescu (guitar), Jonathan Lum (alto sax), Andrew Maynard (tenor sax), Zach Sutton (drums) and Ben Young (bass). These talented performers will offer a wide-ranging set including modern jazz classics and new arrangements of jazz standards, plus an original tune by Ionescu called "Summer of Ben", a modern jazz waltz dedicated to his bandmate Young.

Above: From left, York University Student Jazz Ensemble members Andrew Maynard, Tom Ionescu, Ben Young, Zach Sutton and Jon Lum

"These are all players whom you’ll be hearing a lot more from over the next few years, so come out and hear them now!" says Murley. "Since they’re all second- and third-year students, the good news is that they will still be with us at York for another year or two. They already play at a very high level, and it will be exciting to see how they grow."

For Ionescu, a third-year music student who is also enrolled in York’s Concurrent Education Program, jazz runs in the family. "My father, Dan Ionescu, is an amazing guitar player and one of Toronto’s finest jazz musicians; he got me playing early on," he says. Ionescu was 16 when he got serious about jazz. Studying with his father laid the foundation for him to continue that education at York with acclaimed guitarist Lorne Lofsky.

Alto saxist Lum, a third-year economics major, also found his passion for music at a young age. "Music started for me when I was eight," he says. "I took early childhood Orff and Kodaly classes, then private lessons, and then moved into jazz combos." He cites John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Kenny Garrett and Chris Potter as major influences.

Tenor sax player and third-year music student, Maynard is already a seasoned performer. His credits include last year’s Toronto Jazz Festival with the York University Sextet and performances with the Toronto All-Star Big Band. "The big band’s recordings get regular rotation on AM 740. I’ve played gigs with them all over the GTA, Ontario and the Eastern US including the Beaches Jazz Festival, and even a spot on Canada AM," Maynard says.

Drummer Sutton, a second-year music major, has been playing drums and percussion for seven years. "I started on drums because I wanted an excuse to switch from French horn to a much cooler instrument in my junior-high band," he says. "I wanted to study at York because Barry Elmes, one of my favourite drummers, is the Chair of the Music Department and because the rest of the faculty is absolutely incredible." Sutton can be seen around the Toronto area performing with The Brothers from Different Mothers, After Party, and Bro Hill Quartet.

Bassist Young is also a second- year music major. "I played electric bass in various rock and blues bands around my home-town of Haliburton while in high school," he says, "but I switched to upright bass when I started at York." The recipient of the Music Department’s Elmes-Bedford Prize for Jazz Performance in 2007, Young plays with Bro Hill Quartet, Where’s One? and The Handsome Ben Young Experience.

The York University Jazz Ensemble will be featured as one of several postsecondary school bands JAZZ.FM91 records and broadcasts to support jazz education in Toronto. Come and cheer them on as they make their mark on the JAZZ.FM91 airwaves. The series is produced by Bill King.