Music grad Eli Bennett

Thirteen Humber music alumni are featured on CBC Music’s first annual list of 35 Under 35 Jazz Artists, celebrating instrumentalists and vocalists who inspire the Canadian jazz music industry.

With jazz festival season underway, CBC invited jazz music programs, festival promoters, business managers and teachers to participate in an in-depth research polling project to name some of Canada’s greatest jazz musicians.

“I was extremely surprised and excited,” says saxophonist Emily Steinwall. “Many of my idols are also on this list, as well as many of the teachers I had at Humber, which is something I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around.”

Many of the Humber grads featured on the CBC’s list have graduated in the same class or have worked together throughout their musical career. The list includes Allison Au, Amanda Tosoff, Ashley Summers, Chelsea McBride, Chris Butcher, Eli Bennett, Jake Koffman, Larnell Lewis, Lauren Falls, Luis Deniz, Michelle Willis and Trevor Giancola.

They are award-winning musicians, recording artists, composers and educators who have been recognized for their talent and contributions to changing the sound of music throughout the years.

Giancola is a guitarist, an artist, composer and band leader who currently teaches in the jazz performance program at Humber. When he is not teaching theory and oral training, he is working with artists like Au and Bennett, who are known to be some of Canada’s greatest saxophone players.

Like many of the musicians featured on the list, Giancola is known for pushing new boundaries, combining jazz language with new musical influences and creating new sounds through collective improvisation. In January 2016 Giancola released his album Fundamental and will be touring parts of Canada later this year to share his original tunes and compositions. CBC Music says Fundamental is one of the most assured and interesting jazz albums of the year.

Both Giancola and Steinwall have words of wisdom for the next generation of Humber students. Giancola says, “whatever you’re doing, give that progress 100 per cent. Don’t work on something and move on, you will find more success committing to something, even if it takes all day.” 

After seeing how competitive and difficult it can be to succeed in the music industry, Steinwall also believes it’s important to remain happy and proud of the music you create.

“Do everything you can to maintain that spark that lead you to pursue music in the first place, and always be truthful in how you express yourself. If you love what you are doing that love will come out in your music and in all parts of your life,” says Steinwall.

This past March, Steinwall performed with bassist Christian McBride who performed at Humber’s Artist in Residence showcase.

“Playing on stage with McBride and my fellow students was one of the most elating and exciting moments of my life. It really hit me in that moment that I am on the path to feel that way every day,” Steinwall says.

Listen to all 35 artists at CBC Music and learn more about the work and the music these young musicians are creating.