2023 Audition Information

***Both music and non-music majors attending USASK are eligible to perform within the USASK Jazz Ensemble***

If you are interested in participating in the USASK Jazz Ensemble, pleases note that you can audition either in person or virtually. In person auditions will take place in room 1045 of the USASK Education Building from September 5-8, 2023 between the hours of 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM.

To sign up for an in-person audition time please, use the following click here. Within this e-form you will be asked to answer a few questions and to select your audition time block. Each audition will be 5 minutes long. If you wish to audition in person but are not free for any of the September 2023 audition time blocks, please reach out to Jazz Ensemble Conductor Dean McNeill ASAP at dean.mneill@usak.ca so that a separate audition time and date can be established for you.

If you wish to audition virtually, please fill out the audition form found here and send a link of your prerecorded virtual audition to dean.mneill@usak.ca. Please send a link to this audition video. Please do not send an actual video file. Please note that all virtual auditions for this ensemble must be submitted by 12:00 PM on Friday, September 8, 2023.

***Regardless of in person or virtual auditions modality, please read the following notes carefully***

  • The USASK Jazz Ensemble falls within the Department of Music’s ensemble ‘B’ category. This means that you need to audition for this ensemble specifically, to perform in this ensemble.
  • All auditions for this ensemble are intended to be low stress and brief (~5 minutes).
  • Those auditioning either in person or virtually are asked to:
    1. Play the following scales (listed below in concert pitch):
      1. 1 octave Chromatic scale
      2. 1 octave Bb major scale
      3. 1 octave F major scale
      4. 2 octave F major scale
      5. (optional) 2 octave Bb major scale
    2. (optional) Perform a short musical except of a prepared piece chosen by the student in any musical style.
  • (optional) Improvise 2-4 choruses over a 12 bar Bb blues.
    1. For those auditioning in person please note that accompaniment will provided in the audition by Dean McNeill playing the piano.
    2. For those auditioning virtually, students are asked to perform along with a virtual accompaniment track provided by the student (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ae_tBkCqeQ&t=8s).
  • Audition results will be posted on the Dept. of Music Jazz/Brass bulletin board by 5:00 PM on Friday September 8, 2023 with the first rehearsal being held on Monday September 11, 2023 at 5:00 PM in Quance Theatre.
  • Weekly Rehearsal times: Jazz Ensemble rehearses weekly in Quance Theatre on Mondays from 5:00-6:30 PM and Wednesday from 5:00-6:00 PM.
  • Drummers: Although we do accept virtual auditions by drummers we prefer in person auditions for drummers. If you are auditioning in person as a drummer please sign up for 2 consecutive auditions time slots as it takes a bit longer to audition drummers.
  • Bass/guitar players: Amplification will be provided for you in the audition therefore you do not need to bring an amp (just your instrument and a patch chord).
  • All: Please let the audition committee know of any special circumstances which may pertain to your chair placement (e.g. “I want to work on my improvising”, “I want to work on my section playing”, “I want to work on my lead playing”, etc.). Although we cannot accommodate every such request this type of information is indeed often very helpful when considering chair placements within the band.
  • There are spots open within this ensemble for trumpet, trombone, sax (i.e. alto, tenor, bari), bass (i.e. electric and acoustic), drums, auxiliary percussion, piano, guitar, vibes, vocalists (i.e. male and female) and (occasionally) french horns. If you wish to participate in this ensemble and you play a nonstandard jazz instrument and feel free to reach out to Dean McNeill to discuss your options (306-260-8543).
  • Vocalists: If you are auditioning in person please bring a lead sheet of the tune(s) you with to sing to your audition. A pianist will be provided or you can bring a play-a-long CD/mp3.
  • All: Please contact UofS Jazz Ensemble Conductor Dean McNeill at mcneill@usask.ca if you have any questions.

2023-2024 Season

Here is a list of our 2023-2024 Season USASK Jazz Ensemble performance activity:

  1. Friday October 13, 2023, 7:30 PM: Play It Forward, location Quance Theatre and Education Lounge
  2. Friday November 17, 2023, 7:30 PM: USASK Jazz Ensemble concert at the Bassment Jazz Club.
  3. Saturday December 2, 2023, 7:30 PM: USASK Jazz Ensemble semester-end concert in Quance Theatre.
  4. Sunday January 28, 2024, 7:30 PM: USASK Jazz Ensemble performs as part of Broadway Theatre’s ‘Winteruption’ festival (Venue: Broadway Theatre)
  5. Saturday February 3, 2024, 7:30 PM: USASK Department of Music Big Band Dance, Manhattan Ballroom.
  6. March 1-2, 2024: USASK Jazz Ensemble/Greystone Singers’ collaboration SK tour project.
  7. Friday March 22, 2024, 7:30 PM: USASK Jazz Ensemble semester-end concert in Quance Theatre.

2023 Winter Term Concert


USASK Jazz Ensemble - Middle of Somewhere

Middle of Somewhere was composed by Paul Suchan, commissioned in loving memory of Steve Mealey. Performed by the University of Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble directed by Dean McNeill, with guest artist Dr. Vanessa Klassen. This premiere performance took place in North Battleford, SK on March 3, 2023. Middle of Somewhere is a gospel-style clarinet feature. Many of the clarinet passages found throughout the piece are direct transcriptions of Mr. Mealey's playing transcribed from recordings.

SF Virtual Jazz Orchestra - The Waking

The Waking was composed & arranged by USASK B.Mus. (performance) & Jazz Certificate graduate Silas Friesen. This piece was commissioned and premiered by the USASK Jazz in 2020. Many of the performers in this video are alumni of the USASK Jazz Ensemble.

Sunny Side Of The Street USASK Jazz Combo


Under the direction of Dean McNeill, the USASK Jazz Ensemble has toured western Canada, northern USA, and Quebec, and has commissioned and premiered many new works for the contemporary large jazz ensemble idiom. This ensemble has released 6 CDs in their ‘Bumper Crop’ series and has performed in venues such as Edmonton’s acclaimed Winspear concert hall. The USASK Jazz Ensemble has performed with many acclaimed guest artists, including Jens Lindeman, Campbell Ryga and Slide Hampton.

There are positions available in this 20-piece large jazz ensemble for trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, saxes (i.e. soprano, alto tenor, bari), french horn, guitar, piano, bass, drums, and vocals. Repertoire includes a broad cross-section of traditional and contemporary jazz standards, as well as original compositions. Auditions are open to all USASK students.

For more information about the USASK Jazz Ensemble, click here.

Canada 150 / 110th USask Anniversary Commission Project

Scenes of Plains Peoples

Scenes of a Prairie Peoples is a piece commissioned by the University of Saskatchewan in 2017 to commemorate Canada’s sesquicentennial, and the 110th Anniversary of the University of Saskatchewan. This 3-movement piece is a celebration of the land, and, of the different peoples that have inhabited it. 

Listen Up!

Composed and arranged by Bill Prouten, released on 'Bumper Crop VI Continuance' in Spring 2015

Composed and arranged by Fred Stride, released on 'Bumper Crop III Prairie Rhythms' in 2006

Watch Out!

Intro and example of The New Nation by Metis jazz composer/pianist Michelle Gregoire, as performed by the UofS Jazz Ensemble”.
Scenes of Plains Peoples - 3rd Movement by Paul Suchan
University of Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble - "500 Years" with introductions
University of Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble featuring Murray Porter - Is Sorry Enough
The University Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble featuring Murray Porter - Rez Blues
University of Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble featuring Murray Porter - Colours

Photo Gallery

Scroll through the photo gallery below to see some pictures of the U of S Jazz Ensemble (and guests) in action.

Jazz Ensemble

Information on USask Certificate in Jazz