The Canadian jazz scene is mourning B.C. great Hugh Fraser following news of his passing on Wednesday. He was 62.
The Juno-winning pianist, trombonist, composer, and educator was widely respected in Canada and beyond. He was known for his positive energy that was easily spread to those around him.
Fraser had been in a fight with cancer since 2017. Following his diagnosis, the B.C. jazz community came together for a benefit concert to raise money for the bandleader during his treatment.
Fraser was born in Victoria, B.C., in 1958. He studied with Dave Robbins in Vancouver, Slide Hampton in New York, and Kenny Wheeler in London.
In 1980, Fraser formed the Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation, a cooperative big band known as VEJI for short. After many critically acclaimed performances, awards and recordings, the VEJI remains active to this day.
Later, he earned praise with the Hugh Fraser Quintet, a hard-bop band that won two Juno Awards — in 1989 and 1998 — and toured internationally to wide acclaim.