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A tribute to Bill Jupp's lasting influence

Bill Jupp Big Band in rehearsal - 1986A local jazz musician who is receiving a prestigious award Monday has had a decades-long influence on the Ottawa-Gatineau jazz scene.

The Ottawa-Gatineau Musicians Association is honouring Bill Jupp with its "180 Life-Time Achievement" Award on Monday, February 21.

Bill Jupp has had an interesting career in, and around, jazz as a composer, saxophonist, clarinetist, and teacher. He's flown bombers in the Second World War while playing in London at night. If you've listened to big bands in Ottawa in the last 30 years you've likely heard The Bill Jupp Big Band at least once: perhaps at the NAC with The Four Freshmen, James Moody, Guido Basso and Rick Wilkins, or at one of his many Ottawa Jazz Festival or other performances. In 1964 he conducted a big band at Camp Fortune with Zoot Sims.

Jupp started teaching in Ottawa high schools in 1969 after he became "unhappy flying a desk" with the Air Force. He continued teaching new generations of musicians until he retired at Woodroffe High School in June, 1987.

Saxophonist Mike Tremblay was presented with an award recently, too. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board presented him with its Community Arts Award in October 2010. "As a professional musician and musical mentor to saxophonists and jazz lovers all across the city, in addition to being a passionate volunteer at Nepean High School and many other places, he has enhanced countless students' musical experiences," stated the school board minutes that name the award recipients.

Tremblay is a mainstay of the local jazz scene. He's an active performer in groups ranging from the largest, the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra (formerly IJO) to duos, co-releasing his first CD, "Home", with Mark Ferguson in 2009. He has a music degree from Carleton University and is now actively involved in jazz and music education. He teaches privately and at Carleton University. He started a summer sax camp in 2007. In 2010 he launched the Carleton University Jazz Camp. Tremblay hosted Tim Bedner's jazz mentoring series at Cafe Paradiso at the end of January.

There's an interesting connection between Bill Jupp and Mike Tremblay. Tremblay was a Grade 13 student when he was introduced to high school teacher Jupp 24 years ago. Jupp, now 88, taught for only one more year after Tremblay studied with him.

"Little did I know that would be one of the turning points in my career," said Tremblay.

Bill Jupp talks about Mike Tremblay, 2010 July 22. ©Brett Delmage, 2010Mike Tremblay spoke about Bill Jupp's influence at the Tribute Party for Bill Jupp, organized by Art Katona and others in July, 2010. OttawaJazzScene.ca was there to record his tribute. We'll let him tell the story in his own voice. [mp3, 3:40]


Art Katona wrote an extensive and interesting article with historic photos on Bill Jupp for the May/June 1987 edition of Jazz Ottawa, which he has generously allowed us to reproduce.


    – Brett Delmage

Related: Bill Jupp Sextet packs in appreciative audience at Taste of Wellington