Youth Jazz Ensemble of DuPage

It's time to play again!!!


We spent the 2020-21 season with a series of MasterClasses (see below about them), and they were interesting, illuminating and instructive.  And we appreciate that these Jazz Masters took the time to share their craft.  BUT NOW WE'RE READY TO PLAY!

Putting together and rehearsing a band with the purpose of “providing 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” was a bit of a challenge in our new COVID reality.


We are pleased to announce our new YJED Members for 2021-22 (on the Members tab). We do have a couple of open slots (bari sax, trumpet, trombone) that we are continuing to audition for the right student musicians. Click on this "Audition for YJED" link for more details.

We thank ALL the student musicians who provided their audition recordings to YJED.  We heard a lot of great auditions, and had to think long and hard to choose the best players based on the recordings.  We especially want to encourage 9th, 10th and 11th grade musicians to continue your musical growth and to re-audition next year.  It's not uncommon for musicians to make YJED on their second audition!

So what is the story with YJED???
YJED history a.jpg

Well, we have a whole tab "About YJED" with a lot of details, and yeah you probably should go there and take a look at the details...but here's the short version:

  • YJED members get to play with the best high school musicians in DuPage County and surrounding areas.  20+ high schools...but only 5 trumpets, 5 bones, 5 saxes and one rhythm section.  You do the math.

  • You get to play pro-level music.  That's what you can do when you have a section full of 1st chair players selected from 20+ high schools.

  • You get to play at cool places (hopefully). COVID makes it hard to make promises, but the last couple full seasons YJED had on the calendar The Jazz Showcase, Fitzgerald's, Fulton Street Collective,   Plus ILMEA and downtown Chicago gigs.  And, by the way, a couple of concerts.

  • You get to play with great featured artists.  Pros like Victor Garcia, Chris Madsen, and Dave Katz who have played with the best in the world, and who will push you to step up your game...seriously. 

  • And you get to make a pro-level recording, in a pro-level studio, with a featured artist or two.  Laying down the best charts of the year, engineered by industry guys who do this for a living.  Many of our alumni say this is the most memorable part of YJED.

So, if you want details, go to the "About YJED" tab. 

Enough with the words...what does YJED sound like?

You can click onto our "Video" tab to see and hear a number of performances.  Or  go to the "About YJED" tab, and click through to three of our recordings under "Selected Recent Discography"

But right here are links to a few videos of us (new window will open):

Winter Concert: Sunday January 23 featuring Adam Larson.

During our MasterClass series last year, we got to learn from Adam Larson

Of course, the band knew his writing (he composed the ILMEA Honors Band piece "Out The Window" that everyone auditioned on in 2019, but during the MasterClass we got hear him talk from the standpoint of a working (and teaching) jazz musician.  And fair to say, everyone came away impressed. 

So watch this space for more details to come!

Looking back on 2020-21: A MasterClass Series season

MasterClass clinicians 2020-21

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Mike Smith.tif

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.

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. 


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!