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Canadian Heritage

Campbell Ryga


CAMPBELL RYGA (saxophonist, composer, clinician) was born on July 4, 1951 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the son of famed Canadian playwright George Ryga and a jazz-loving mother whose extensive record collection influenced Campbell at a very young age. He grew up in Summerland, British Columbia where the family moved in 1963, and lived and studied there until moving to Vancouver to enroll in the music program at Capilano College. He stayed in Vancouver, where he had quickly become an important part of the music scene, until 1989 when he moved to Toronto.

His career soared on the Toronto scene where Moe Koffman began to headline Ryga frequently at George’s Spaghetti House, and he played with nearly everyone from the Hemisphere New Music Ensemble to Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass. In 1993, he received a Canada Council grant to study in New York with George Coleman for a year, and moved back to the West Coast permanently in 1996.

Campbell Ryga has toured extensively internationally 19 times and more than 24 times across Canada since 1981. Most of his touring, principally in Europe and Latin America, has been with the Hugh Fraser Quintet, of which he is a founding member. He has performed frequently at the Havana (Cuba) International Jazz Festival and has had a number of week-long engagements at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England. Ryga played in two “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concerts in 1992 – as leader of his own Campbell Ryga Quartet on February 24, and as a member of the Bill King Quintet on March 9.

He has contributed to nearly 60 jazz recordings, including his own releases, and continues to be one of the key players on the thriving West Coast jazz scene.

Campbell Ryga is also a respected jazz educator who teaches at Kwantlen College in Langley, British Columbia, and in the Jazz Performance degree program at Capilano College. He was accorded the prestigious Wall of Fame honor from the British Columbia Secondary School District for excellence in the education field.


Since 1987, Campbell Ryga has received 3 JUNO Awards, 2 JUNO Nominations, a Grammy Nomination, and 2 Western Canadian Music Awards, including the following:

2000 – Named Jazz Report Magazine’s ‘Alto Saxophonist of the Year’

2001 – JUNO Award Nominee for ‘Best Traditional Jazz Album’ for his ‘Spectacular’ recording

2005 – JUNO Award Nominee for his co-release (with pianist Renee Rosnes) of ‘Deep Cove’ (CBC Records; Universal Records distribution)

2005 – Winner of a Western Canadian Music Award as ‘Most Outstanding Jazz Recording’ for ‘Deep Cove’ (co-release with Renee Rosnes)