Midnight Blue Jazz Band is a “traditional” big band with 17 musicians, 2 singers & director. We are based in Calgary, Alberta. Our repertoire spans a wide variety of styles — swing, jazz, blues, latin, funk, classic rock — whatever fits the occasion. The recent COVID pandemic allowed Midnight Blue to be creative, by forming a drumline; which has been incorporated into its repertoire. We play at senior care facilities, public events/music venues and business/community/private occasions.
Midnight Blue Jazz Band was formed in Calgary in September of 2001. Founding members were: Dave Hiley, Sheilah Hammerton and Deb Watson. Music director was Richard Condon, who taught music at Bowness High School for numerous years. Weekly rehearsals were held at Bowness High School. Other musicians were subsequently invited to join the group to round out the 17 member ensemble. In 2005, rehearsals were relocated to St. Joseph’s School and moved to St. Gregory School in 2018. Richard Condon retired in 2012, and Lael Johnston is our current director. The band has played at many events that are listed on the performance webpage.
In January, 2013, the Midnight Blue Jazz Society was established as a Board governed non-profit society. Society objectives are:
- To promote and develop arts and culture in Calgary and surrounding areas through live performances at both public and private functions.
- To support Calgary and area community associations by performances at community-sponsored events.
- To support Calgary and area school communities and band programs by sponsorship and concerts at schools and in their local communities.
- To contribute to Calgary’s non-profit organizations by proposing performances at their fund- raising activities.
- To provide a jazz music education program that meets the needs of the membership of the Society through weekly rehearsals and instruction by a certified music instructor.
This not-for-profit adult community organization is funded and operated by and for its members. Its growth and success depends on member support and participation. Our Society includes Band Members, Board of Directors and its Artistic Director.
Midnight Blue Jazz Society strives to provide a learning and teaching process, top quality music education to maintain a standard of excellence, peer encouragement in a supportive environment, and the opportunity to perform in public.
In 2021, Midnight Blue Jazz Society celebrated its 20th year anniversary. Due to the COVID 19 outbreak, anniversary plans were postponed. In July 2022, Midnight Blue celebrated its 20 year anniversary with a trip to Cuba. Pictures from this trip will be posted soon. Please check back.
For more information regarding the band’s history, please go to the home page, under the Celebrating Our HIstory heading.
Artistic Director Lael Johnston
Lael Johnston is a percussionist, conductor, and educator. After completing his Masters of Music Performance at the University of Alberta, Lael spent several years touring North America with a variety of musical groups, covering a spectrum of musical styles. Returning to Calgary to pursue a career in education, he spent the past decade with the Rocky View School Division as Music Director at Chestermere High School. The program included Concert Jazz Bands, Jazz Ensembles and a Drumline. These groups received international recognition with numerous group tours including The Harrogate Youth Festival (England) and Wurzburg Festival (Germany). Recently (2021), Lael was appointed Assistant Principal at George McDougall High School in Airdrie AB.
Lael continues to maintain a busy performance career as a freelance percussionist and, is building a reputation as an adjudicator, clinician and public speaker.
SAXOPHONES (left to right)
Amy Floyd – Tenor
Deb Watson – Alto
Karen Heaton – Alto
Dave Philpot – Tenor
Emily Kuss – Bari
TROMBONES (left to right)
TRUMPETS (left to right)
RHYTHM SECTION (left to right)
Barry How – Drums
Ihor Kolomijchuk – Bass Guitar
Jill White – Piano
Ethan Collister – Guitar