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elevated IHg0m DENNY CHRISTIANSON, 1942-2021

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elevated IHg0m Beloved Canadian jazz educator, trumpeter, bandleader and  musical icon Denny Christianson passed away peacefully on Feb. 10 at 78, of Parkinson’s and complications from leukemia. His passing is a huge loss to the Canadian music community. Christianson is survived by his wife Rose (Aurora, Ontario) his son, Eric and two grandchildren, Juliana and Elliot (England) and two brothers, Mark and Jeff (Minnesota).

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elevated IHg0m Born Sept. 12, 1942 in Rockford, Illinois, Christianson studied and played with the U.S. Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, MD before actively serving at sea at the beginning of the Vietnam war. His professional career began playing at Harrah’s Casino in Lake Tahoe before moving to Los Angeles. There he worked in TV with the Sammy Davis Jr Show for seven years. In L.A, Denny appeared on more than 250 albums and worked with The Who’s Who of jazz and pop artists.  

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elevated IHg0m After moving to Montreal in 1980, he established the Denny Christianson Big Band, which played charts by leading arrangers as well as his own compositions with their own brand of high energy and  swinging performances. The Big Band was an annual fixture at the Montreal International Jazz Festival for two decades, backing such soloists as Michel Legrand, Shirley Bassey, Diane Schuur and many others. 

elevated IHg0m The Band’s album, Doomsday Machine was nominated for a Juno Award in 1986. Other titles include 1987’s Suite Mingus and More Pepper, both featuring baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, and 1994’s Shark Bait. During his career as a jazz educator, Christianson taught at McGill University, Concordia University, Université de Montréal and John Abbott College. He also served as head of music at Centennial Academy.

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elevated IHg0m As a Professor of Music, he was the Director of Music Studies at Humber College in Toronto, where he inspired generations of  jazz students from 2001 until he retired in 2018. He established the Bachelor of Music Program while spearheading the construction of a world class recording studio. By leveraging his standing in the music world, he attracted many renown jazz artists adding to the enrichment of the students’ experience. The list includes Kurt Elling, Michael and Randy Brecker, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Mike Stern and Jack DeJohnette. When he retired, he became the President of Musicfest Canada, the country’s largest student educational festival and chaired zoom board meetings up until a few weeks before his passing. 

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elevated IHg0m Christianson has been a Canadian citizen since 1991. In 2020, he was nominated for the Order of Canada.

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elevated IHg0m Memorials will be held at a later date.

elevated IHg0m In Denny’s name, donations to the Margaret Bahen Hospice Foundation https://www.myhospice.ca/support-my-hospice/ would be appreciated.