Guelph Graduate and Jazz Festival Mainstay Wins Juno

April 02, 2012 - News Release

University of Guelph graduate Jesse Stewart has won a Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year with his band the Stretch Orchestra. The annual honours were handed out Sunday night in Ottawa.

Stewart, an accomplished jazz percussionist, composer and artist, is a two-time U of G graduate, completing a BA in 1993 and a PhD in literature/theatre studies in 2008. He also has two master’s degrees from York University.

Stretch Orchestra members Matt Brubeck and Jesse Stewart (right) accept their Juno Award

Stretch Orchestra members Matt Brubeck and Jesse Stewart (right) accept their Juno Award

At Guelph, he was the first recipient of the Brock Doctoral Scholarship, U of G's most prestigious graduate award worth $120,000 over four years. His PhD research project was on common ground among musical genres, particularly forms of jazz. He was also a sessional instructor in Guelph’s School of Fine Art and Music and led an ensemble of musical improvisation.

“This is a richly deserved honour for a dear friend who will always hold a special place in the University of Guelph community,” said English professor Ajay Heble, who was Stewart’s PhD adviser. “Jesse’s remarkable work as both a creative practitioner and a scholar continues to be a tremendous source of inspiration for me.”

Heble and Stewart produced a CD together called Different Windows, a percussion-piano duo, and worked together on the Guelph Jazz Festival, which Heble founded in 1994. Stewart was the festival’s assistant artistic director for many years and has performed numerous times.

He has also performed with many internationally acclaimed musicians, including jazz legend Roswell Rudd, Italian baritone saxophonist Carlo Actis Dato, German saxophonist Frank Gratkowski and Scottish vocalist Maggie Nicols.

Stewart was named Outstanding Young Canadian Jazz Musician by the International Association of Jazz Educators and Young Musician of the Year by Jazz Report magazine.

He is currently a professor in the School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University.

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