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Canadian Heritage

Dave McMurdo


DAVE McMURDO (trombonist, composer, arranger, conductor, teacher) was born March 4, 1944 in Isleworth, England, and passed away on June 13, 2011. He spent his early life in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada where he studied music at the University of British Columbia. It was there that he began composing music and playing in a variety of bands including the famed Bob Hales Big Band.

In 1969, Dave moved to Toronto where he became a respected sideman with Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass, and lead trombone player in Nimmons 'n' Nine Plus Six. Internationally esteemed as leader of Juno Award-nominated The Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra (which Toronto Star Critic Geoff Chapman called 'Canada's leading big band') and The Dave McMurdo Quintet featuring Mike Malone, McMurdo is a powerhouse player and equally talented composer and arranger.

As a jazz educator, Dave has been a full-time faculty member in the Music Department at Mohawk College since 1984. As a dedicated composer/ player/clinician, he participates in clinics, music festivals, and concerts across Canada and internationally throughout the year.

In 1987 and 1988, he was awarded Canada Council Grants to study composition with the great Bob Brookmeyer in New York City. The Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra featuring Toronto's best players from its earliest beginnings, was created in 1988 and took off almost immediately. In 1991 the orchestra toured the (then) USSR. Since that time, they have recorded innumerable original compositions by other famous Canadian musicians including Mike Malone, Don Thompson, Reg Schwager, and Phil Nimmons on CD -- Live at the Montreal Bistro in 1992, Different Paths in 1994, Fire & Song in 1997, and Just For Now in 2002 -- all released by Sackville Recordings.

The Toronto Star acclaimed Just for Now as one of 2002's Top 10 CDs. The Dave McMurdo Quintet featuring Mike Malone released their first CD entitled “99 Ways”, which the Quintet followed up with a successful tour of Canada's West Coast later that same year, and a series of concerts in Malaysia in 2001. 2008 saw the release of a live double CD of the Dave McMurdo Orchestra, “Nimmons and More”.

1991 – Juno Award nomination for the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra’s inaugural CD (The Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra)
1994 - The Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra was named “Canada's Outstanding Jazz Orchestra” by The Jazz Report Magazine