Jazz at Rex a showcase for Humber student musicians

by | Jan 25, 2014 | A&E

Adam Stroud
A&E Reporter

George Chenery stood behind his upright bass, playing his second consecutive 45-minute set in front of a packed house at the Rex Jazz & Blues Bar on Queen Street West.

Chenery, 19, a first year Jazz ensemble student represented Humber’s live showcase of talent, and not even a hand injury could slow him down.

“I have a huge blister on my finger that exploded halfway through the second set. I was a little bit injured,” he said.

Chenery said it was exciting to play with his friends in front of a live audience.

“It was fun to play with those guys. They’ve all got a lot of energy,” he said.

This live showcase of Humber’s talent is part of what is among the most highly regarded jazz music programs in North America.

Alex Dean, a prominent jazz musician and professor at Humber, said the Humber program has a reputation that spans the globe.

“Humber is getting a reputation all over the U.S. and the world, as having a great music program. People come from Korea, Japan, Europe, and they come to study at Humber,” he said.

The Humber Jazz Performance program has produced notable graduates such as Liala Biali, who has toured with musicians like Sting, and Diana Krall. Humber graduate David Virelles was named one of four young jazz pianists to watch by the New York Times.

Humber’s jazz programs have several Juno winners and nominees among former students.

Six Oscar Peterson Grant for Jazz Performance winners have been Humber students.

The $10,000 award goes to the top jazz student from that year throughout all of Canada.

“If you’re going down to New York to do a masters, that 10 grand helps a lot,” Dean said.

Tom Upjohn, 19, who played his own composition at The Rex, said he enjoyed playing his piece in front of an audience.

“I feel pretty good about the performance overall. Everything came out in the wash,” he said.

“Last year they had a Beatles ensemble,” he said.

As the last ensemble took the stage at the Rex, it was already clear the audience was looking at the not-to-distant future of Toronto’s jazz