2024 Adjudicators – coming soon!

Meet our 2023 Adjudicators

Luis Deniz

Winner of the Grand Prix de Jazz General Motors 2006 at the Montreal Jazz Festival(David Virelles Quintet) and Galaxie Rising Star 2010 at the Halifax Jazz Festival(Rich Brown & Rinsethealgorithm),Grammy Nominated and Juno Award Wining artist(Hilario Duran Latin Jazz Big Band),alto saxophonist Luis Deniz was born in Camaguey, Cuba on April 21st, 1983. In 1993, Luis started his musical studies at the Escuela Vocacional de Arte Luis Casas Romero in his hometown of Camaguey, where he subsequently continued at the Escuela Profesional de Musica Jose White. Luis later moved to the Cuban capital, where he gratuated at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Musica (ENA), the alma mater of several of Cuba’s most prominent musicians. After graduating with high honors, he was awarded 1st place at the international jazz competition JOJAZZ, held in Havana(2003). Luis also kept a busy schedule, both teaching saxophone at the National School of Music and playing locally and touring internationally as well,Luis has performed and given workshops all over Cuba, Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Bermuda, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, England, Ireland, Scotland, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Upon his arrival in Toronto in 2004, Deniz has performed/ recorded with some of Toronto and International most outstanding musicians, including Mark Turner,Tony Allen(Fela Kuti) Hilario Duran, Luis Mario Ochoa, Paquito D Rivera, Horacio El Negro Hernandez, Reg Schwager, Dafnis Prieto, Francisco Mela, Barry Romberg, Darren Sigesmund, Cubanismo, Rich Brown’s Rinsethealgorithm and Rich Brown & The Abeng(currently), Mark Kelso & the jazz Exiles, NOJO, Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra,Roberto Occhipinti, Canadian Idol jazz Orchestra,The Art of Jazz Orchestra, Jane Bunnett, Canada’s Global Orchestra Kune, among others.He has also shared the stage with international figures such as Barry Harris,Howard Johnson, Ray Vega, Steve Turre, Randy Brecker, Donald Harrison,Ingrid Jensen, Mark Feldman, Gary Versace and Hermeto Pascoal. One of the highlights of Luis’s career has been as educator as well, acting as a part time faculty member at Toronto’s Humber College, since September 2013, as well as University of Toronto Jazz studies, since September 2021, imparting private saxophone lessons and as a small and large ensemble instructor.With an impressive career as a sideman and saxophonist, Luis keeps on working on his own development. In 2010 he was awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Grant to study with innovative saxophonist Greg Osby in New York City. With all this achievements, Luis Deniz is definitely a name to look for in the future of jazz. Luis Deniz’s debut album entitled “ El Tinajon”, on Modica Music, was released in May 2021, and has been positively received by critics and fans alike. Luis plays exclusively Yamaha Saxophones, Gonzalez reeds and BG France accessories.

Claire Devlin

Claire Devlin is a Montreal-based saxophonist and composer. Since 2016 Claire has led her own group, the Claire Devlin Quartet, and in 2020 she released her debut album, “Anyone”. Claire is a member of several ensembles, including the Canadian National Jazz Orchestra, the Sarah Rossy Chamber Ensemble, the Plastic Waste Band, Bellbird, and Jean-Michel Leblanc’s Variétés Narratives, and she performs regularly with the Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal, Rommel Ribeiro, Thus Owls, and the Equal Jazz Orchestra. 

Claire grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, and started playing saxophone at the age of 12. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Rising Young Star award at the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival. Soon after, she moved to Montreal to study music at McGill University. Claire attended the Banff Jazz & Creative Music Workshop in 2017 where she met and studied with several renowned musicians including Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh, Tyshawn Sorey, Jen Shyu, and Stephan Crump. In 2020, Claire received a master’s degree in Jazz Performance and Composition at McGill University. In the nine years since moving to Montreal, Claire has performed with many accomplished musicians such as John Hollenbeck, Christine Jensen, Linda Oh, Jean-Michel Pilc, Okkyung Lee, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Jen Shyu, Anna Webber, and Matt Mitchell. 

Karly Epp

Karly Epp (she/her) is a Canadian-based jazz vocalist with a passion for education. Epp graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Music specializing in Jazz Vocal Performance, as well as a Bachelor of Education. After several years of teaching choir at the high school level, she decided to shift her focus from education to performance. Epp relocated to New York City and later graduated from Manhattan School of Music with a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies. During this time, she had the opportunity to study with multiple Grammy-nominated and revered jazz artists and composers, and to perform in clubs and festivals throughout North America. After a spending a year as visiting instructor of jazz voice for the University of Manitoba in 2018, Epp ultimately returned to her hometown of Winnipeg, Canada to take the position on full-time. In addition to teaching, she continues to be active as a performing and recording artist, as well as a guest lecturer/clinician.

Sara Gazarek

Born and raised in Seattle, WA, 3x GRAMMY® nominated jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek reigns as one of the most creative voices of her generation, and one “who may well turn out to be the next important jazz singer” (Los Angeles Times). Collaborating with jazz legends Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, Kurt Elling, and more, and with 6 critically-acclaimed albums under her belt at the age of 40, Gazarek often tours internationally as a solo/band leader, and as a co-founder of the all-female vocal quartet säje, whose debut single earned a 2021 GRAMMY® nomination. Sara also serves on the LA Chapter Board of Governors for the Recording Academy, and works as an adjunct faculty member at her alma mater, USC.

Mark Godfrey

Hailing from Southwestern Ontario and currently living in Toronto, bassist Mark Godfrey has established himself a mainstay in the Canadian jazz community and in 2019 was named Emerging Jazz Artist of the Year by the Toronto Arts Foundation. Mark’s accolades as a bassist and composer include the 2014 Grand Prix de Jazz from the Montreal Jazz Festival (Pram Trio) and the 2021 JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year (Sammy Jackson/With You).

To date, Mark has released two albums under own name: Prologue (2018) and Square Peg (2020). Versatility on both electric and double bass has led Mark to regularly work with a variety of Canadian jazz artists beyond his own groups including: Kellylee Evans, Barbra Lica, Sammy Jackson, and Matt Dusk. As a jazz educator, Mark is the double bass instructor at Mayfield Secondary School for the Arts in Brampton and also teaches privately out of his home studio in Toronto.

Kelsley Grant

Trombonist, educator and composer Kelsley Grant, received his Bachelor of Music from McGill University and completed his graduate studies at Manhattan School of Music. Shortly after leaving New York, he joined Maynard Fergusonʼs Big Bop Nouveau and toured the United States, Germany, Switzerland and England. Kelsley has been twice nominated for trombonist of the year by the National Jazz Awards. Kelsley has served as a faculty member at McGill University, University of Montreal, and University of Toronto. He has given master classes and clinics at universities across Canada and is currently a full-time faculty member at Humber College

Rob Monson

Rob Monson currently teaches choral and instrumental music at Glenlawn Collegiate. Over the past 30 years he has had the privilege to sing and direct with many choirs and bands throughout the province. He has conducted workshops for the Central, Eastern and Western Manitoba Choral Associations, as well as numerous school divisions across Manitoba. In 2008 he was the director of the Provincial Honour Choir and conducted the Manitoba Junior Honour band in 2014.  As a tuba player, Rob has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Wind Ensemble and the Winnipeg Brass Quintet.


Rob is passionate about making music and how it brings people together. He firmly believes that: “Music offers a phenomenon wherein may be expressed the highest feelings to which humanity has arisen. The destiny of music education is to teach us to love this great force not merely as an ornament, but for its ennobling energy, for its power of making us better by arousing within each individual a perception of what is good, just and beautiful.”


Rob is excited and honoured to be a clinician at this wonderful festival.

Teri Parker

Teri Parker (MA, BMus) is a jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader based in Toronto, Canada. Born into a musical family, Parker gravitated towards the rich history and creative possibilities of jazz while still in high school; when it came time to apply for post-secondary schooling, she was accepted into the University of Toronto’s prestigious Jazz Studies program. It was at U of T that Parker had the opportunity to study with prominent educators who would prove foundational in her development as an artist, including celebrated instrumentalists and composers such as Dave Restivo, David Braid, and Phil Nimmons, Director Emeritus of Jazz Studies. After graduating from U of T, Parker continued her studies independently; as the winner of successive grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, she was able to continue learning with world-renowned artists in New York and Europe, including Sophia Rosoff, Aaron Goldberg, Guillermo Klein, Fred Hersch, and Enrico Pieranunzi. 

In 2021, Parker completed an MA in Composition at York University, where she studied with Randolph Peters, Stephanie Martin, and Noam Lemish. During her time in the MA program, Parker honed her abilities in jazz composition and was exposed to a variety of different techniques from the classical world, allowing her to bring a deeper sense of nuance and artistry to her own music. She also had the opportunity to learn more about jazz from an ethnomusicological perspective, taking an intersectional approach to the study of jazz history, and learning more about the stories of performers, composers, and music-industry professionals whose work has not always been recognized within standard historical narratives. 

An engaging, driven performer, Parker is a fixture on the Canadian jazz scene, and has performed in a variety of ensembles as both a sideperson and a bandleader. She has played at a number of major national festivals, including the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Halifax Jazz Festival, and the Guelph Jazz Festival, and is a regular at some of Canada’s most prominent jazz venues, including the National Music Center, The Rex, and Jazz Bistro, as well as live on air on JAZZ.91 FM. In demand as an educator, Parker has also worked regularly as a teacher and clinician, maintaining a popular private music studio, as well as appearing as an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. 

In 2018, Parker founded a new group: Free Spirits, an ensemble that celebrates the music of venerable jazz pianists Mary Lou Williams (1920-1981) and Geri Allen (1957-2017). Initially conceived as a project that would honour the hidden histories of women in jazz, Free Spirits has expanded into a major compositional outlet for Parker, who, in the midst of her MA, won a scholarship for her five-part suite “Peaks and Valleys,” written for Free Spirits. In September 2021, Parker was the recipient of a Toronto Arts Council grant to record a new album with Free Spirits featuring “Peaks and Valleys,” as well as other originals and covers of Williams and Allen songs.

Anna Penno

Anna Penno is a music educator at Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School (CPN music) in Brandon, MB, where she teaches grades 9 to 12 concert and jazz ensembles and conducts the Brandon Community Band. Anna is a proud Brandon University alumni, having received her undergraduate degree in Music Education from BU. During her time at BU, Anna was fortunate to study saxophone with Greg Gatien and conducting with Dr. Wendy Zander-McCallum. Anna also holds a Master’s of Music Education degree from Michigan State University. While at MSU, with the guidance of Dr. Cynthia Taggart, Anna conducted research in jazz pedagogy and gender studies. Anna looks forward to opportunities to collaborate with students and educators through her involvement in music camps, festivals, and opportunities to adjudicate. Highlights include opportunities to teach jazz saxophone at the International Music Camp, guest conduct the Norman/Parkland Intermediate Honour Band and the Manitoba Junior Honour Jazz Band, adjudicate at the Manitoba Band Association Level One Band Festival, as well as present at the Da Capo Music Education Conference. Anna is thrilled to be a member of the Westman music education community.  

Cynthia Peyson Wahl 

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Cynthia Peyson Wahl holds a Bachelor of Music Education (University of Regina), a diploma in Contemporary Music, Jazz Voice (Grant MacEwan University), and a Master of Music Education (University of Toronto). For fourteen years she taught choir, vocal jazz, and musical theatre at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and directed the jazz choir at Canadian Mennonite University. She currently teaches choir, orchestra, vocal jazz and musical theatre at Campbell Collegiate in Regina, Saskatchewan.


At DMCI her choirs were featured performers at Choralfest Manitoba, the ChoralCanada Podium conference, and the Canadian Rocky Mountain Festival in Banff. In 2011 and 2012, her choirs won the Earl Grey Trophy for Outstanding performance by a choir at the Winnipeg Music Festival, and in 2011, her Chamber Choir won the Lieutenant Governor’s Trophy for most outstanding performance of the Winnipeg Music Festival.


Cynthia is the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards for choral excellence, and is published in two books – The Palgrave Handbook on Race and the Arts in Education, and Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir, vol. 5.  Cynthia enjoys a busy schedule as a clinician/workshop presenter, regularly travelling across Canada and the US to work with choirs of all genres.  She is currently completing her PhD in music education at the University of Toronto.

Erin Propp

There is nuance in the everyday; in its layers of love, joy, and hurt, and in its emotional currents ever present. Erin reaches into the everyday and blurs the edges, creating works that are at once deeply personal and achingly relatable.

Her voice rings true with nuance and power, with rare clarity and precision. It is a tool of exacting expression, expertly honed. It reaches in to resonate; calling the listener inside, sounding the overtones of our shared experience.

Erin’s debut album Courage, My Love (2012), written and produced with long-time collaborator Larry Roy, was met with praise and acclaim. The recording won Best Jazz Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards (2013), and a Juno nomination in the category of Vocal Jazz Album of the Year (2014). Their second effort, We Want All the Same Things (2021), received worldwide recognition, hitting CBC’s list of top jazz albums of the year and earning a WCMA nomination. Erin can do it all, from charming intimate jazz club sets, to moving concert hall performances, and key arts organizations have taken note. Erin has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, and has opened for Gretchen Parlato at the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.

A graduate of the University of Manitoba Jazz Program, Erin has continued her studies in recent years with esteemed educators Luciana Souza and Michelle Willis. Erin has two decades of teaching experience in home studio, university, and conservatory settings, teaching voice, sight reading and rhythm.


Already in 2023, Erin was a guest clinician at the Canadian Jazz Summit, is preparing new, original work for a busy spring concert schedule, and will tour Alberta and Saskatchewan in April with her long-time colleague, jazz guitarist and producer Larry Roy.


A past participant in the Brandon Jazz Festival, Erin is delighted to adjudicate and hear young singers discover and deliver performances in the heart of the province!

Rachel Therrien 

Working between New York City and Montreal, French-Canadian trumpeter, composer and producer Rachel Therrien boasts an enviable curriculum. Known for her very personal signature with influences from jazz to afro-latin and “global” music, Rachel has developed a reputation as a highly-skilled, versatile and innovative artist. 

After producing 4 records on labels MultipleChordMusic (CA) & Truth Revolution Records (US), Rachel Therrien just released her 5th album, “VENA” (Nominee for Jazz Album of the Year at ADISQ and JUNO Award & four stars by Downbeat), under French Label Bonsaï Music, recorded in Paris with her new European Quartet and she is releasing her 6th album Mi Hogar, the 1st of her Latin Jazz Project in February 2023. 

She also tours both her last projects: Vena (2020) with her european quartet, Why Don’t You Try, (2017) praised by Downbeat’s Editor’s Pick with her Montreal Quintet – which will celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2020,  her New York based Latin Jazz Quartet and very occasionally, performs her past album Pensamiento : Proyecto Colombia, 2016. 

Therrien also works as a side musician in various projects such as Arturo O’Farrill’s Grammy winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, the The Ostara Project, spear-headed by award-winning jazz musicians Jodi Proznick and Amanda Tosoff, only to name a few, the renowned Diva Jazz Orchestra, NYC based People of Earth, and many more. In 2020, Rachel started producing for other artists and is currently working with Noéi Lira and LaPelúda. Be on the lookout for these new albums. 

Kathie Van Lare

Kathie Van Lare, born and raised in Calgary, has been teaching music in the Calgary area for 35 years. Now retired from full-time teaching, Kathie continues to direct the Foothills Music Society Concert Band and the Westwinds Music Society Gold Jazz South Big Band.

She is active as a guest conductor and adjudicator throughout much of Western Canada and has also served on faculty with MusiCamrose and the Calgary Regional Summer Band Workshop. Kathie is currently Co-President of Women Band Directors International – Alberta Chapter and is also Director of the newly formed Calgary Women’s Jazz Orchestra.

Bands under Kathie’s direction have been the recipients of several awards and she has been the recipient of various personal awards:  Alberta Band Association’s “Elkhorn Award” as the Band Director of the Year; Alberta Band Association’s “Vondis Miller Legacy Award”; Laureate in John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor at the MidWest Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago.  Women Band Directors International, “Scroll of Excellence”; and an Honorary Lifetime Membership from the Alberta Band Association. 

Kathie continues to be active as a free-lance musician (trumpet) and has performed with many groups including among others, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra, Prime Time Big Band, Calgary Jazz Orchestra, Alberta Winds and Altius Brass.

Besides music, Kathie enjoys woodworking, horseback riding and is an avid baseball fan.  Go Cardinals!