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Canadian Heritage

Kelly Jefferson


KELLY JEFFERSON (saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist, piccolo-player) was born March 4, 1970 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He holds a a Bachelor of Music degree from McGill University in Montreal, and a Master's Degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He serves on the faculty of York University in Toronto, and previously taught at Humber College, also in Toronto, and McGill University. He has adjudicated at music festivals across the country, and given numerous workshops throughout Canada and the United States.

He has performed with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and leading jazz artists including Maria Schneider, Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Bill Holman, Ray Anderson, Michel Legrand, Ray Brown, Nicholas Payton, Renee Rosnes, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Denzal Sinclaire. He toured the United States and Europe extensively as tenor saxophonist with Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau. He leads the Kelly Jefferson Quartet and co-leads the Jefferson Grant Quintet with trombonist Kelsey Grant.

His latest project is The Kelly Jefferson Quartet which features original compositions stemming from a variety of influences. He also co-leads the Opus Award-winning Jefferson-Grant Quintet with trombonist/composer Kelsey Grant. He remains a busy freelance musician, performing regularly with Barry Romberg’s Random Access, Dave Young, the William Carn Quintet, Time Warp, the Artie Roth Quintet, The Shuffle Demons, the Brian O’Kane Quintet, and Chris Tarry.


1999 – Opus Award to Jefferson-Grant Quintet for ‘Jazz Album of the Year’ (JGQ)
2003 – National Jazz Awards Nominee (Kelly Jefferson/Kelsley Grant Quintet) as ‘Acoustic Group of the Year’
2005 - National Jazz Awards Nominee as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’
2006 - National Jazz Awards Nominee as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’
2008 - National Jazz Awards Nominee as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’
2009 – National Jazz Awards Nominee as “Saxophonist of the Year”
2011 - JUNO nomination for 'Contemporary Jazz Album' for "Next Exit" (Quartet)