‘Jazz for the Ages’ Youth Program

‘Jazz for the Ages’ Youth Program

This year the TD Niagara Jazz Festival held auditions at Laura Secord Secondary School in search of new young talent and we are thrilled to present our 4 winners and 4 runners up on our festival stages!



Friday, July 29th, 2016 – All bands & soloists will be performing at the Market Stage (at Market Square)  7pm -9pm 91 King St, St. Catharines


Saturday, July 30th, 2016 – All 4 winners kick off the Fiesta Stage @ ‘Jazz in the Park’ (Simcoe Park) 11am – 11:30am 169 King St., Niagara-on-the-Lake



James Dunbar – Age 12 and Under – Soloist

James Dunbar (1)

James began gigging regularly at the age of 8. For three years he performed at his local Loblaws where he played boogie, blues and original Jazz compositions to the delight and chagrin of many a shopper. It was while playing there that jazz singer, Ori Dagan discovered James, and booked him to play at the 120 Diner in downtown Toronto. That show led directly to James’ ‘Hump Day Blues’ residency at Jazz Bistro (15 shows and counting). And, in a fitting concurrence with groceries, James recently won $20,000 from 2015 Kelloggs Nominate Talent Contest.

At the age of 12, James is excited to be making his festival debut at the TD Niagara Jazz Festival as the winner of the “Jazz for the Ages” 12 and under youth category.

Avery Raquel – Age 13 to 17 – Soloist

Avery Raquel (2)

Avery Raquel has developed her love for music and performing since the age of 4 becoming an aspiring triple threat performer. Though Avery has acted in various film, television, animation and professional stage musicals across Canada, her greatest passion, is singing. Now 14, Avery’s captivating jazz performances have garnered many awards. From Jazz clubs in New York City and Toronto, to many other venues and jazz festivals across Ontario, Avery has shared the stage with the likes of June Garber, Lou Pomanti, and the Dave Restivo Trio to name a few. In 2016, Avery released her debut album ‘Life Lessons’ which has garnered critical acclaim, media attention and airplay on stations across the country including JazzFM.91 and CBC Radio One. The album was also recently nominated for ‘Jazz Recording of the Year’ at the 2016 Hamilton Music Awards. She had the opportunity to work on the album with Canadian jazz professionals Joel Haynes, Mike Pelletier, and Rob Fekete, as they recorded a mix of Jazz standards and modern tunes with Avery’s own vocal flair. Avery is currently working on her next album project, writing originals and working with a two time Juno winning producer. Beyond a solo career, Avery is also the vocalist for the JazzFM 91.1 Youth Big Band. Avery also volunteers her time singing for service groups, charitable organizations, sports organizations and other various events across the province. She has even sung for the Toronto Blue Jays in front of an audience of 43,000.

For more information, please visit www.averyraquel.com

Holy Cross Jazz Band – Age 13-17 – Band

Holy Cross (1)


The Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School Jazz ensemble is a dynamic group of students raging from 15 – 17 years of age. Students are selected for this group based on their work ethic and musicality. They rehearse 3 times a week, and can be found performing around Niagara for a variety of functions, and around our school. Many of the students that have been a part of the Holy Cross Jazz ensemble have gone on to pursue careers in the music industry.


Razzmatazz – Age 18-23  – Band

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Simple Definition of razzmatazz [raz-muh-taz]

Noisy and exciting activity meant to attract attention.

Razzmatazz is a musical collective which consist of  strong sense of groove, captivating arrangements, and a bearded bassist.

Razzmatazz or Razzamatazz may or may not also refer to:

“Razzamatazz”, a song from the Quincy Jones album The Dude

Razzmatazz, a Crayola crayon color, a shade of rose, or crimson

A berry-flavored smoothie made by Jamba Juice

Roland – on the keys

Marc – on the drums

Nick – on the bass


Asha Snyders – Age 12 and under (Soloist: Piano)

Asha Snyder

Asha comes from Indian and Dutch descent and lives in Waterloo where she is now approaching Grade 7. She loves to sail with her parents spending the summer months cruising both Lake Ontario and Huron looking for adventure on the high seas. She has also traveled to several countries enjoying the diverse cultures around the globe.  

Asha has a keen interest for the performing arts and demonstrates a natural talent in acting and as a musician.  She has competed in several Kiwanis Music Festivals over the years, and has recently completed her Grade 5 piano exam for the Royal Conservatory of Music.  She loves to play soccer and listens to an eclectic range of music, varying from classical jazz and big band on the one hand, through to modern day pop.

She is thrilled to have been selected to play in the Jazz For The Ages at the TD Niagara Jazz Festival and is very much looking forward to playing alongside some of the best emerging talent in Canada.


Emily Yochim – Age 14 – 17 (Soloist:  Vocals)

Emily YochimEmily is a 16/yr old, grade 11 student at Notre Dame College School in Welland. Emily often

performs in music competitions and at “Open Mic Nights”, singing while accompanying herself on “self- taught” piano. Emily is involved in her high school’s Concert Band playing Alto Saxophone, the Notre Dame Jazz Combo on vocals and keys, the school’s annual musical as well as another musical called “Journey of Song Through the Decades”, which is assisting mental health through song and dance.

Most recently, Emily auditioned for the TV competition “America’s Got Talent” and following a successful day of auditioning, became one of only 74 out of 2,000 “acts” to advance to a full group of the TV show’s producers!

Emily has regularly been singing (acapella) both the Canadian and American national anthems at a number of ceremonies held by the Niagara Regional and Metro Toronto Police, the Provincial Government and the FBI!


Danielle Blane and Hunter Murdoch  – Age 14 – 17 (Duo: Vocal + Piano)

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.18.36 PMDanielle Blane, age 16, has been a student of theatre and music since an early age. She teamed up with piano player, Hunter Murdoch, and the duo began to make music. Danielle has performed in many theatre productions and as lead singer in the local high school band, Mustang Sound.

Beginning piano lessons at the age of six, Murdoch has always enjoyed playing the piano. He also performs in local events and with Mustang Sound.

Watch for Blane and Murdoch performing at local attractions and restaurants throughout Niagara this summer. The two play jazz and blues , classic rock and roll and modern tunes with a twist. Danielle’s voice has a soulful sound and has been compared to Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin.

Jacob Celli + Santiago – Age 14 – 17 (Duo:  Guitar + Trumpet)

Jacob CelliJacob Celli, 18, is a graduate of Cardinal Carter Catholic High School who is beyond passionate about playing the instrument he has been given from a very young age ­ guitar. From jazz to rock, Celli’s musical range is wide and impressive due to hours upon hours of dedicated practice that have, after his twelve years of playing, amounted to him composing songs of his own.

Through aforementioned twelve years of playing, Celli has accompanied multiple bands and is currently both writing and playing a lengthy range of musical pieces with trumpet player Santiago Helou. They have worked with artists such as the Juno­-winning Liberty Silver and the Diva String Quartet for the song “Freedom”, which has been performed multiple times for an anti­discrimination concert directed by his school music teacher, Mrs. Ellis ­Mobbs.

The opportunity to perform for Niagara Jazz is one that is very exciting, especially for a young, up­ and ­coming musician such as Jacob Celli.


Gideon Vernon – Age 12 and under (Soloist:  Bass)

GideonBassGideon Vernon is 12 years old and is entering grade seven at Beacon Christian School in St. Catharines.  Before taking up bass, he studied piano for six years.  In January, he began studying bass with Phil Martin.