Heather Bambrick is a Juno-nominated vocalist who has released four solo recordings, all of which were nominated for ECMA Awards. She’s been a featured guest on numerous projects and was awarded Canada’s National Jazz Award for vocalist of the year. Beyond singing, Heather is one of Canada’s top voice actors and has been a well-loved voice at JAZZ.FM91 for almost 20 years. She is a multiple nominee and three-time first runner-up for best radio personality in NOW Magazine‘s Readers’ Choice poll, and she’s a three-time nominee — and two-time winner — of broadcaster of the year at the National Jazz Awards and was named best on-air host at the 2020 Broadcast Dialogue Canadian Radio Awards.
Toronto native David Basskin is a lifelong jazz fan (and occasional sax player) who loves to feature “the best music you’ve never heard in your life.” He brings a lifetime’s enthusiasm and knowledge of jazz composers, musicians and history, highlighting artists you love in recordings you may not know, as well as a wealth of players that may be new to listeners. Trained as a lawyer, David headed up the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd. (CMRRA), Canada’s largest music licensing agency, for more than two decades and now works as a consultant on copyright and technology issues and teaches business law at Toronto Metropolitan University.
Programs: The Nightfly
Jaymz Bee is a bandleader, broadcaster, writer, tour guide and party planner. He’s been a host with JAZZ.FM91 since 2002 and has spent well over a decade producing and hosting local and international jazz safaris. In his career, Jaymz has hosted TV shows for most Canadian networks, curated an art gallery, run a nightclub, and directed TV commercials, music videos and theatre productions. He has written two books of poetry and the bestseller Cocktail Parties for Dummies. He produces music for artists in various genres, mostly for Vesuvius Music. Jaymz has an esteemed reputation for promoting the Toronto music scene with wild, joyous abandon and can usually be found in a nightclub or music hall.
Toronto-born electric bassist Rich Brown has established himself as an incredibly versatile artist. Along with being one of the most called-upon electric bass players in Canada, Rich is additionally a composer, producer, bandleader, educator, clinician, broadcaster and voiceover artist. He has recorded three albums as a leader, including his critically acclaimed album of solo bass compositions Between Heaviness & Here. He has performed with a wide variety of artists, including Vijay Iyer, Steve Coleman, Dapp Theory, Angelique Kidjo, Kurt Elling and David Clayton Thomas. Rich leads two groups — rinsethealgorithm and The Abeng — and was nominated for a Juno Award in 2016. As an educator, Rich Brown is well-known for his work as a faculty member with the popular online bass education website Scott’s Bass Lessons. He teaches at Humber College and the University of Toronto and is a regular contributor to Bass Player Magazine and the online publication No Treble.
Programs: New Origins
Jamie Cullum’s willingness to defy convention has served him well during his lifelong pursuit of musical fulfillment. He began playing piano and guitar at the age of eight; in his mid-teens, he was in and out of rock bands playing guitar, drums and piano; he was also the drummer in a hip-hop combo, eventually finding his way back to jazz through the samples used in his favourite hip-hop recordings; and he spent the end of his teen years living in Paris, where he honed his skills performing in local jazz clubs before going on to become the biggest-selling British jazz artist of all time. He has won an enviable reputation as a magnetic live performer, playing freewheeling concerts that emphasize spontaneity and improvisation — and which rarely employ a set list.
Programs: Jamie Cullum BBC Radio Show
John Devenish is a musician and actor with professional experience on stage, in film, on television and on the radio. John completed a four-year tuition scholarship to the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec and received a degree in musicology from Carleton University. He has also received music certifications from Trinity Laban and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He also attended acting workshops under George Luscombe at Toronto Workshop Productions. He has done voice work for podcasts, short films and other features, and he has contributed to major art installations in Toronto and Ottawa. He was on the inaugural Wychwood Barns Community Association board of directors and is established professionally in the social and developmental service sectors.
Programs: Dinner Jazz
Born in Los Angeles but raised in Toronto, Dani Elwell is a broadcaster and award-winning writer and programmer. In her 37-year career, she has worked with CFNY, the CBC, CBS, CKFM, CKLN, Q107 and JAZZ.FM91. She has taught at Humber College and has been heard on various radio, TV and internet commercials in North America. She prides herself on being able to carve out creative spaces in the airwaves. Dani currently serves as JAZZ.FM91’s creative and programming strategist.
Programs: Voice Tracks
Singer-songwriter and artist Laura Fernandez was born in Madrid, Spain, lived in Switzerland as a child, spent her youth in Calgary and now resides in Toronto. True to her international roots, Laura writes songs in English and Spanish and her musical compositions are a reflection of her many influences. In 2013, she was named to the distinguished Steinway artist roster. In 2015, she was named one of the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians at a Pan American Games ceremony. Laura is also an award-winning artist and illustrator and has published many children’s books. Her work has been seen internationally on billboards, ads and packaging as well as in books and magazines and in private collections and museums. Laura is a passionate enthusiast of jazz, and especially Latin Jazz, which has surrounded her throughout her life and is a part of her cultural upbringing.
Programs: Café Latino
Raina Hersh is a broadcaster and writer inspired by the way music builds community. She has been a contributing writer for a number of music websites, interviewing artists, reviewing albums, and encouraging readers to explore the vast musical landscape of our city. A graduate of the Humber College broadcasting program, Raina has more than 10 years of experience in the industry with various radio stations across the GTA. As a lover of jazz and blues with an affinity for improvisation and musical experimentation, Raina endeavours to create a welcoming atmosphere in which listeners can dive into the music together.
Programs: The Interval
Ronnie Littlejohn has a long history in the Canadian music scene. For 15 years, he fronted Planet Earth, one of Canada’s premier jazz, funk and soul bands. Planet Earth and Funk Embassy were touted as vanguards of the funk revival. Ronnie has shared the stage with some of music’s finest, including Maceo Parker, Betty Lavette, War, Russ Little, Kevin Breit, Donna Grantis, Guido Basso, Ben Riley and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has also made special appearances with Alex Lifeson, Lee Oskar, Holly Cole, Jackie Richardson, Doug Riley, Kevin Turcotte and others. His musical influences go back to the classic sounds of New Orleans. Ronnie is a self-trained vocalist who began singing to old 45s at the age of five — and his eclectic taste in music has added considerably to his collection over the years.
Programs: Gumbo Kitchen
If there’s a popular song from between 1900 and now, chances are Danny Marks has heard it, and can sing it, and can maybe even put a new spin on it: Johnny Cash performing Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, or Elvis launching into reggae. An aficionado of the great blues singers of the ’30s and ’40s, Danny was one of the first guitarists to incorporate blues roots into rock music. His big brother went out of his way to collect old recordings, and Danny grew up listening to rare blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll records few people in the Toronto area had heard. His tastes — and guitar licks — grew as he encountered such widely diverse guitar talents as Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry, the King Family, Andres Segovia and Los Indios Tabajaras.
Although Alex Pangman grew up a couple of generations late to have sung with Teddy Wilson, the vibrant young vocalist is proud to be known as “Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing.” With pipes aplenty, the Juno nominee possesses the requisite taste, talent and the historical knowledge of an avid record collector to breathe new life into the sturdy standards of the classic jazz era. Alex has built a loyal fanbase amongst jazz listeners and dancers through her critically acclaimed work with her stacked Alleycats in studios, nightclubs and concert halls across Canada.
Programs: Swing Set
John Pizzarelli is a world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer. With his wife Jessica Molaskey and his father Bucky Pizzarelli, they were labelled “the First Family of Cool” by the San Francisco Chronicle and “the von Trapps on martinis” by The New Yorker. Jessica Molaskey is a veteran of a dozen Broadway shows and has premiered music written by Ricky Ian Gordon, Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, Michael John LaChiusa and Stephen Sondheim and John Bucchino, and she has written songs for almost a dozen recordings.
Programs: Radio Deluxe
Joe Sealy has enjoyed a successful career as a musician, actor, composer, music director and recording artist. He won a Dora Mavor Moore award for music direction in the Toronto production of Ain’t Misbehavin’.More recently, Joe was the music director of the highly acclaimed Tonya Lee Williams Gospel Jubilee television special and a CBC Radio special called East Coasting. Joe has performed with a wide variety of notable performers such as Sammy Davis Jr. and John Candy, and with jazz greats Joe Williams and Milt Jackson. He won a Juno Award for Africville Suite.
Programs: Joe’s Jazz
Award-winning jazz singer Ian Shaw is also an accomplished radio presenter. Ian has been hosting the Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show since 2012, bringing his knowledgeable, witty and engaging style to the show. Over the years Ian has made many appearances on radio including presenting on BBC Radio 2 and London’s Jazz FM. He performs regularly at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and has done so since the early ’90s when he was encouraged by none other than Ronnie Scott himself. Now, with more than a dozen albums to his name, he is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive, original and creative jazz singers that the U.K. has produced.
Programs: Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show
Born and raised in Toronto, Walter Venafro has had a passion for radio broadcasting ever since he received a transistor radio for Christmas at the age of 10. Walter has worked at several radio stations around Toronto, including a stint at the legendary CFNY-FM in its ’80s heyday. He has co-produced documentaries for television and has worked as a casting agent for film and television, as a DJ at some of the city’s top clubs, and as a promotions and publicity representative for numerous award-winning Canadian musicians. Walter has also long been an in-demand voice actor who has been featured in many high-profile national and international advertising campaigns. In his work with JAZZ.FM91 since 2004, Walter has been nominated for two National Jazz Awards for broadcaster of the year.
Glen Woodcock, the current iron man of Toronto radio, grew up in the city and fell in love with big band music as a teenager, at the height of the rock ’n’ roll craze. He bought as many big band and jazz LPs as he could afford, and those records formed the basis of the collection he still uses on The Big Band Show, which has been on the air since 1976. During his years as a broadcaster and journalist, he got to meet some of the greats in the world of jazz: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé and many more. In the 1990s, Glen and his wife Connie launched their own small record label to preserve the sounds of Canadian big bands in the 1940s. In 2017, he received the Ken Page Memorial Trust’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Programs: The Big Band Show