Youth Jazz Ensemble of DuPage

Jazz Showcase - THIS WEDNESDAY at 7:15 PM!


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It's always special when we get to play the Jazz Showcase (map link).  Stepping onto the stage, below the famous oversized photo of Charlie Parker, playing where Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and literally everyone who has been anyone in the world of jazz for the last 50 (and more) years has performed!

Not only does thinking about that push us to "up our game", but knowing that we're opening for Bob Lark and his group featuring some of the best players in Chicago will keep us on our toes.

We hope you'll come out to hear our last public performance as the 2021-22 edition of YJED, check out the great Bob Lark, and absorb the tradition of one of the most storied jazz clubs in the world!

YJED year-end recording - 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.  Our recording session for 2021-22 is scheduled for June 5


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!

Pix and video from our January 2022 performances
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Coming back from 2 years off for COVID, we had 2 performances in January. Pete Ellman invited us on short notice to open for his big band (the Pete Ellman Big Band aka PEBB) at The Venue in Aurora and of course we jumped at this invitation.

A few days later, our first Winter Concert since 2020 featured Guest Artist Adam Larson. It was quite the kick after playing his ILMEA Honors Band piece "Out The Window" in 2019, and having him give a MasterClass in 2021.

Click on the Video and Photos tabs for pix and selected videos from these performances!

So what is the story with YJED???
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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):

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.