Youth Jazz Ensemble of DuPage

Looking ahead to the 2021-22 YJED season


No, we’re not fortune tellers.  And if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that nature doesn’t always cooperate with our intentions and plans.


With that said, we are looking at how to resume this fall what we were established to do, namely “provide the top high school jazz musicians in the 20+ high schools in DuPage County and surrounding areas the opportunity to perform high-level jazz music literature in concert and in an annual studio recording.”


With a few months still to come before when we would do auditions, we don’t have anything to share right now other than we’re working on how to make the 2021-22 season a rehearsing and performing reality. So watch this space for updates.


Finally, if you or a family member are interested in YJED and are a high school musician who is interested in performing challenging professional-level jazz music literature at a high level, please reach out to our director, Mr. Blazek by clicking here to fill out a short form expressing your interest.  We will reach out to you by email as we get closer to fall

Looking back on 2020-21: A MasterClass Series season

MasterClass clinicians 2020-21

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Normally, we might look back on the past season and highlight the jazz clubs and festivals we played in, the guest artists who we got to play with, and a cool surprise or two.


This year’s surprise was not cool at all. Covid.

In short, YJED band members usually come from 15 or more high schools in DuPage County and surrounding areas.  To protect their students and staff, most school districts limited access to their own students and staff.  Which meant no place for YJED to rehearse or perform…let alone audition. 


YJED needed to find another way to temporarily fulfill its educational mission to help develop top high school jazz musicians from the many high schools in DuPage County and surrounding areas.  And so our director and founder, Robert Blazek created and launched the YJED MasterClass online program.

Every month, we featured an online YJED MasterClass which featured a jazz master who was an active educator and practitioner. We invited not only YJED members from the previous year, but also local high school band directors, other high school musicians who expressed an interest in YJED, and other jazz musicians at local colleges.  The students were able to learn from these jazz masters on topics that included improvisation, section and lead playing, composing and arranging.


We’d like to thank these Jazz Masters who helped our musicians keep growing, despite the challenges: Wycliffe Gordon, Mike Smith, Alan Baylock, Eric Hochberg, Adam Larson, and Rob Parton.


​​The YJED MasterClass series has been supported in part by a grant from the JCS Arts, Health, and Education Fund of the DuPage Foundation.

See what we did in just a few months of our shortened 2019-20 season

We try to capture video and pictures from our concerts on our website here.  Of course it's no substitute for actually being there, but you can hear how we progress through the year.

Although Covid-19 forced cancellation of performances at the Jazz Showcase and the Fulton Street well as our Spring Concert featuring Victor Garcia, our photo and video pages feature two performances of the 2019-20 season.

The first was an opening set for the great Chicago Skyliners Big Band led by Bill O' November at Fitzgerald's...after only four rehearsals.

Our second performance in January at our Winter Concert featured Guest Artist saxophonist Chris Madsen.  Chris is a composer, is on faculty at University of Illinois - Chicago, and has performed with Wynton Marsalis and many other top jazz musicians.

So click on the tabs above and check them out!

Mark Colby - In memoriam
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Join us in listening to Mark:

The YJED family mourns the recent loss of a dear friend, Mark Colby. Mark had the quintessential tenor sound and what a glorious sound it was. Mark was not only one of the top tenor players in the country but a tremendously giving person. His influence on young saxophonists is heard throughout the United States. 


Mr. Colby was an original YJED board member, a position he held for five seasons. He shared his love and music and caring personality with everyone he met and of course was a huge inspiration to all of us in YJED. Mark was a guest artist multiple times and was featured on 10 different YJED albums over the years.


I personally owe a great deal to Mark for guiding my jazz hand and sharing his knowledge of music and life. Thank you Mark for being you and giving back to the profession you loved so dearly. I know that someday, we will meet again over the rainbow.


In sorrow and love, 



YJED MasterClass online - Support through GoFundMe

Normally, at the end of each season, the band produces a recording with the best of their season's songs with GoFundMe donations helping to fund studio time, sound mixing and mastering, and production. Due to Covid-19, we were not able to record for the 2019-20 season.

Explained above, as we are not currently able to rehearse and perform, we are instead providing a series of YJED Masterclasses online.  Your donations will help fund our ability to have Jazz Masters present our MasterClasses to current and prospective YJED members, and the high school band directors who teach them.


Click on the yellow "Donate via GoFundMe" button for more details and to make a donation electronically.  


If you prefer to donate by check, make the check payable to “Youth Jazz Ensemble of DuPage” and mail it to the YJED Treasurer at Judi Jenz, 305 S. Naperville Rd., Wheaton IL 60187. (Make sure your name and address is on the check to receive a tax deduction receipt).  Thanks!