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Canadian Heritage

Barry Elmes


BARRY ELMES (drummer, composer, producer, educator) was born May 3, 1952. The multiple award-winner has occupied a position of prominence on the Canadian jazz scene since the early ‘80s, becoming internationally-respect over the years since, not only as one of the country’s most talented drummers, but for parallel accomplishments as a composer, producer, recording artist, and dedicated educator.

His skills as both a player and producer are evident on more than 60 recordings, many of them with his own groups but frequently, in support of other prominent artists. His playing has taken him all over the world, working with hundreds of local and international jazz performers including Diana Krall, Tommy Flanagan, Phil Nimmons, Charlie Haden, Oliver Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Crawford, Joe Henderson, John Abercrombie, and the Moe Koffman Quintet.

He has released four albums by his own Barry Elmes Quintet, the hard-swinging group he established in 1991, as well as critically-acclaimed recordings by Time Warp, the contemporary jazz quartet which he co-leads with bassist Al Henderson. He has also recorded and toured with jazz power trio D.E.W. East with saxophonist Alex Dean and bassist Steve Wallace).

He had the honour of representing Canada with Time Warp at the 1992 Venezuela International Jazz Festival and was featured with the Oliver Jones Trio on the Governor-General's Tour of China, Japan, and Korea in 1994. In 1996 he performed in Brazil and toured South Africa with the Canadian Jazz Giants, toured Chile in 2000 with his Barry Elmes Quintet, and marked the ensemble’s 10th anniversary with a cross-Canada tour in 2001.

Professor Barry Elmes taught part-time at York University for two decades before joining the full-time faculty as an associate professor in 2004., where he currently serves as the Jazz Area the Department of Music in 2004. He is also a staff member at several summer jazz camps, and is a respected clinician wherever his tours take him. He continues to helm the artist-run independent jazz label, Cornerstone Records, established in 1993 with partners Al Henderson and saxophonist Mike Murley.

In 2013, Elmes released Happy Hour on Cornerstone Records. The CD features Perry White on tenor saxophone, Vanessa Rodriquez on Hammond B-3 Organ and Reg Schwager on guitar. The purchase of the CD includes a set of four Happy Hour jazz coasters.


1992 - Juno Award nominee for ‘Best Jazz Recording’ (The Barry Elmes Quintet release, Climbing)
1993 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Jazz Musician of the Year'
1994 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Jazz Musician of the Year'
1994 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Drummer of the Year'
1995 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Drummer of the Year'
1996 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Drummer of the Year'
1998 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Drummer of the Year'
1999 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Acoustic Jazz Group of the Year (Barry Elmes Quintet)
2000 - Jazz Report Award Winner as 'Drummer of the Year'
2001 - Indie Award nomination for ‘Best Recording of 2001” (Barry Elmes Quintet recording, Five Minute Warning)
2002 - National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Acoustic Jazz Group of the Year' (Barry Elmes Quintet)