Live Music at The Jazz Room

Featuring International jazz acts that play the world’s top clubs (the Saturday program features artistic direction from Mark Kelso). For the latest news and & promotions, click here.

Please note that only Grand River Jazz Society events are shown below.

Oct 31 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm


Acclaimed jazz / hip-hop trumpet player BROWNMAN ALI  will once again lead an all-star quartet through his popular annual Halloween Thriller concert. The much lauded BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO + 1 will perform the entire Michael Jackson “Thriller” recording, interpreted and re-worked in the Miles Davis-esque fashion this multiple National Jazz Award winning improviser has become known for. In addition to the quartet performing Thriller top to bottom, other MJ classics will be featured through the night for this unique Halloween weekend jazz party at the KW Jazz Room in Waterloo.

“Delving so deeply into that record always leaves us speechless”, states Ali. “Michael birthed so many incredible tunes over the years, but his collaborations with Quincy Jones on Thriller has to be one of the most towering musical achievements in pop music ever. Using that brilliant material every year on Halloween, as jump-offs for what we do makes for a party that’s both danceable, but still rooted in exploratory improvising and deep reaching solos. We approach it the way Miles might have.”

The BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO has won 2 National Jazz Awards, 3 Toronto Independent Music Awards, a SOCAN award for composition, a CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award, and an International Independent Music Award for “2015 Jazz-Funk album of the year” for their release “Gravitation”,  which hit number 4 on the iTunes USA jazz charts upon it’s release.

ABOUT BROWNMAN — Heralded as “Canada’s preeminent Jazz trumpeter” by NYC’s Village Voice, Brownman Ali — born on the small Caribbean island of Trinidad, & schooled in NYC — is a multiple award-winning NYC-schooled protégé to his teacher, Grammy-winning trumpet legend, Randy Brecker.  He tirelessly leads 7 unique ensembles of his own including the internationally acclaimed Miles Davis influenced BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO, and the award-winning CRUZAO latin-jazz quintet.  All these ensembles record under Brownman’s own much lauded BROWNTASAURAS RECORDS label, established in 2009.  In high demand in the studio world with over 300 CD appearances to date, Brownman delivers stylistically authentic horn playing over a wide range of styles from bebop to hiphop having worked with the likes of Guru’s Jazzmatazz (replacing Donald Byrd in that primordial ensemble), Mos Def, KRS-1, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Jay-z, Mingus Dynasty Big Band, Gary Bartz, Chucho Valdes & far too many more to name here.  He is considered to be one of the most unique and provocative improvising trumpet players in the nation today and is widely regarded as a vanguard for the evolution of Jazz in Canada.

A highly decorated player, his awards & accolades include 2 National Jazz Awards (with 11 nominations over the years), Montreal Jazz Fest’s “Grand Prix Du Jazz” award, a CBC Galaxie Rising Star award, a SOCAN composers award, an International Independent Music Award for “Album of the Year”, a Toronto Independent Music Award “jazz artist of the year” (6 nominations), a Black Canadian Award nomination for “Jazz Musician of the Year”, an induction into the WHO’S WHO IN BLACK CANADA, a BRAVO! channel documentary on his life, NOW magazine naming him “Toronto’s Best Jazz Musician”, CBC Radio Canada named him “one of the most recorded trumpet players in Canadian history”, NPR in New York calls him “the new standard in electric jazz”, the Trinidad & Tobago Consulate General awarded him with a citation for being a “Distinguished National of Trinidad” and he is listed by Air Canada as one of the “Top 10 reasons to visit Toronto”.

Please see their website:

:: Brownman Ali – electric trumpet & spookiness
:: Nick Maclean – keyboards & ghoulishness
:: Max Wilson – electric bass & creepiness
:: David Steinmetz – drums & ghastliness

Listen to:          “Red Clay, live at the Night Owl, Toronto”

Phoenix Jazz Group
Nov 6 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm


Photo Credit – Rebecca Teutsch
The Phoenix Jazz Group performs jazz in a melodic fusion style. Group members are very versatile in a number of different genres. A review from The Jazz Society of Oregon stated ” they’re a Canadian quintet of musicians with impressive credentials whose program of all original music swings with ease. ” Since their debut album ” Extensions ” was released in 2009, the music of The Phoenix Jazz Group has received ongoing airplay on Canada’s Premier Jazz Station Jazz FM 91.1 in Toronto as well as on jazz radio in the U.S. and over 60 other countries worldwide. Phoenix performed at the 2018 Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival in Waterloo On.  A review of the group’s most recent album Amparo from Whole Note Magazine in Toronto states ” It is in the fusion of myriad styles that the group’s music speaks best. This can be felt throughout the album, but
nowhere more strongly than in the profound beauty of Amparo, the title track itself.”
  • John Mclelland, Piano and Keyboards
  • Andy Klaehn, Clarinet and Saxophones
  • Scott Neary, Guitar
  • John Goddard, Percussion
  • Greg Prior, Bass


Listen to The Phoenix Jazz Group in       “02 Roll with It”                             Something (Never Change)“.

Elizabeth Shepherd/Michael Occhipinti “Women in Jazz Series” Sponsored by DIVA International
Nov 7 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm


photo credit: massimo de dominicis

ESMO is a collaborative effort between singer/pianist/composer Elizabeth Shepherd and
guitarist Michael Occhipinti. They have been featured in each other’s projects for almost a
decade, with Elizabeth being the vocalist and pianist for Michael Occhipinti’s “The Universe of
John Lennon”, and Michael touring as a member of Elizabeth’s group promoting her JUNO
nominated album and “MONTREAL” and Polaris Prize long-listed album, “The Signal”. Michael
Occhipinti’s guitar work has been called “miraculous”; Elizabeth has been credited with helping
to further a soulful brand of jazz for a new generation. The two have received 15 JUNO
nominations between them.
They had recently returned from the Jazz Crossings Festival in Poland (fall 2019), and set about
recording their first collaborative album as co-leaders, bringing to light gems from the Canadian
songbook. They were poised to bring their new work to the world with a cross-Canada summer
2020 festival tour lined up, followed by a European fall tour, however that was halted as Covid19 swept across the globe.
After touring for close to 20 years respectively, they decided it would be important to get
together during the summer and do a series of online concerts in support of arts councils and
venues across Canada – partly as a “thank you”, and partly to highlight the necessity of coming
together to ensure that these cherished venues make it through to see the other side of the
pandemic. They have delayed the release of their Canadian Songbook album and summer
festival tour until 2021. They are currently writing remotely for their second album, comprised
of all-original material.

Elizabeth Shepherd-Vocals and keyboards

Michael Occhipinti-Guitar

Davide Direnzo-Drums

Roberto Occhipinti-Bass

Listen to:  “Live UpLOAD”                                   “Across the Universe”


This performance is sponsored by DIVA INTERNATIONAL, makers of the Diva Cup,  for the” Women in Jazz Series”

Andriy Tykhonov
Nov 13 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm


Andriy Tykhonov (MMus, BMus) is recognized as one of Ukraine’s leading jazz pianists. After initial studies in classical piano, he graduated from the Jazz Department of the Glier State Music College of Kiev in 1995; in 2001 he was awarded the Artist Diploma in Theory of Jazz and Jazz Pedagogy by the Kiev University of Culture and Art. In 2007, Andriy was awarded a Masters of Music degree from Kiev University of Culture and Art. Andriy has performed throughout Ukraine with leading Russian and Ukrainian jazz musicians. Since 1996, he has been a regular musical attraction in nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, and Ukrainian cruise ships.

In 2002 Andriy came to Kitchener, Canada where he now teaches privately at Accent Piano Studio.

Andriy has performed with artists such as Dave Young (bass), Reg Schwager (guitar) and many more… Andriy first appeared at the UpTown Waterloo Jazz Festival in 2003. He regularly performs in KW and Toronto, and has been invited many times to the KW Chamber Music Society (Waterloo), Registry Theatre (Kitchener), Centre in the Square (Kitchener) and River Run Centre (Guelph).

His performing genres include swing, bossa nova, samba, ballad, movie themes, ragtime, rock, blues, country and Russian and Ukrainian folk music.

Bass – Clark Johnston

Drums – Kevin Dempsey

Trumpet – Ray Podhornik

Piano – Andriy Tykhonov


Listen to:                       40th Birthday at the Jazz Room                                Peterson Blues

OKAN “Women in Jazz Series” Sponsored by DIVA International
Nov 14 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Taking their name from the word for heart in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, the women-led ensemble OKAN fuses Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms in songs about immigration, courage and love.

Having recently worked with Bomba Estereo, Lido Pimienta and Bianca Gismonti, OKAN followed up on their Juno-nominated and Independent Music Award-winning debut album Sombras, with their sophomore release Espiral.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Elizabeth Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist who served as concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Magdelys Savigne hails from Santiago de Cuba and graduated with honours in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of the Arts. Both are also Grammy-nominees for their contributions to Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, of which they are former members.

“OKAN craft jazzy, heady grooves informed by Afro-Cuban culture and a world of sound.
Chicago Reader

Elizabeth Rodriguez-Violin

Magdalys Savigne-Percussion

Roberto Riveron-Bass

Jeremy Ledbetter-Piano

Frank Martinez-Drums and Percussion


Listen to: “Espiral Official Video”          or             “Kumba” 


This performance is sponsored by DIVA INTERNATIONAL, makers of the Diva Cup,  for the” Women in Jazz Series”

Sonja Gustafson “Women in Jazz Series” Sponsored by DIVA International
Nov 20 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

London’s award-winning Jazz songstress Sonja Gustafson is a talented vocalist with a unique style and polish.  Her traditional approach reflects an appreciation for the forerunners of vocal jazz, bringing a cool verve to classic and lesser-known standards.  Honest and soulful in her delivery and grace, Sonja Gustafson is dazzling whether performing torch ballads, scatting with abandon, or crooning popular covers. Her collaborations with many of London’s top jazz instrumentalists led to the release of her debut CD “Sonja Gustafson” in 2007, as well as a double Christmas CD entitled “Comfort & Joy” released in December 2010. Both albums were well-received and can be heard on CBC radio and found on iTunes, or ordered at

Her audience is often surprised to learn that she is also an accomplished classically trained soprano with a MMus from UWO. She is a popular guest with symphonies, choirs and big bands alike and has been soprano soloist at First St. Andrew’s United Church in London, ON since 1999.  Sonja also has her own opera company, Diva Lounge Productions, which produces fully staged chamber operas.  But make no mistake, when it comes to jazz, she is the “real deal” according to her listeners and colleagues – her mellow jazz vocals are worlds away from her soprano roots. So whether singing in an intimate jazz club or in front of a symphony, this multi-faceted performer is an engaging songstress who connects deeply with her audience and shares her love of song with passion.

  • Sonja Gustafson, Vocals
  • Adrean Farrugia – piano
  • Duncan Hopkins, Bass
  • Kevin Dempsey, Drums


Listen to:       “Baby, What Else Can I Do”              “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

This performance is part of the WOMEN IN JAZZ series, sponsored by DIVA INTERNATIONAL, makers of the Diva Cup.

Lorne Lofsky Trio
Nov 21 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm


“Lofsky’s imagination is fertile (and) his technique it’s match” – Toronto Globe and Mail

Lorne Lofsky started as a typical teenage rock ’n roll guitar player, playing in basement bands and at high school dances. In his late teens, a friend turned him onto Miles Davis’ Classic disk “Kind of Blue” which dramatically altered his approach to playing music. During a week’s gig at the legendary George’s Spaghetti House in Toronto, he met Oscar Peterson, which lead to an enduring relationship, including two years as a member of the Oscar Peterson Quartet, performing at Carnegie Hall, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and around the world.  Lorne was featured on 3 of Oscar Peterson’s recordings, including “live in Paris”.  He has played/toured or recorded with a who’s who of the jazz world, including not only Oscar Peterson, but Ed Bickert, Rob McConnell, Chet Baker, Joey DeFrancesco, Pepper Adams, Ray Brown, Neils Henning Orsted  Pederson, Rosemary Clooney, Kirk MacDonald, Dave Holland, and many other respected members of the international jazz community.

Lorne is unquestionably one of the finest jazz guitarists in the world today. He is a master improviser, manipulating time and melody and taking chances on original compositions and standard tunes.

Lorne Lofsky-Guitar

Barry Romberg-Drums

Neil Swainson-Bass

Hear Lorne with “Dolphin Dance”

Ralf Buschmeyer Quartet
Nov 27 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm



The evening will be a celebration of the music of Thelonius Monk. It will feature some original arrangements, Monk classics as well as some less commonly played Monk compositions.

Guitar Player Magazine calls guitarist Ralf Buschmeyer ‘as smooth and sophisticated as James Bond taking a holiday in Monte Carlo’ and Blues Review Magazine hails him as an ‘inventive musician’. Ralf has been playing professionally since the 1980’s where he grew up playing clubs in Southern Ontario. Jazz studies with Lorne Lofsky at Hamilton’s Mohawk College led to touring Canada for three years and settling in Canada’s Western Provinces where Ralf directed Jazz Guitar studies for Mount Royal University, Ambrose University(Calgary), Selkirk College(BC) as well as being a faculty member for Grant MacEwan University(Edmonton), Nazarene University and University of Calgary.

Ralf is currently active as a free-lance performer and private teacher in Southern Ontario as well as faculty for Heritage College Music Department in Cambridge, Ontario.

A band-leader with 7 CDs to his credit, Ralf is also an in-demand side-man for several artists including: Eric Marienthal, Bobby Shew, Ralph Bowen, Amy Sky, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Jack Semple, Ingrid Jensen, The Platters, Lisa Brokopp among many others.

Ralf Buschmeyer Guitar
Chris Gale Saxophone
Neil Swainson Upright Bass
Terry Clarke Drums

Listen to Ralf in “All the Things You Are” and “How Deep Is The Ocean“.


Colleen Allen Quartet “Women in Jazz Series” Sponsored by DIVA International
Nov 28 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

HOME | colleenallen

Colleen Allen is one of Canada’s most in-demand musicians for live concerts and recording sessions. Based in Toronto, the acclaimed and versatile multi-instrumentalist has performed all over Canada, the U.S. and Europe with world class jazz and pop artists including Molly Johnson, David Clayton-Thomas, Holly Cole, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Rik Emmett, Marc Jordan, Andrew Craig and Jackie Richardson, to name a few. Known for her warm, authentic tone and soulful style of soloing, she works frequently with Brian Barlow’s Big Band, Cirque du Soleil, is a resident artist at Soulpepper Theatre, and a member of Manteca, Canada’s premier fusion jazz big band. She has been in the house band of the Toronto Blues Society’s Women’s Blues Revue since its inception in 1986.

Colleen’s own recordings as a leader draw from her seasoned experience as a musician performing in a variety of genres and situations. Her first CD “Colleen Allen” displays her talents as instrumentalist, arranger, bandleader and producer. Her sophomore release “Flashlight” features bassist George Koller, guitarist Rob Piltch and Snarky Puppy drummer Larnell Lewis.

Colleen Allen-Saxophone

George Koller-Bass

Adrean Farrugia-Piano

Ethan Ardelli-Drums


This performance is sponsored by DIVA INTERNATIONAL, makers of the Diva Cup,  for the” Women in Jazz Series”