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Canadian Heritage

Denny Christianson


DENNY CHRISTIANSON (trumpeter, flugelhornist, arranger, composer, bandleader, educator) was born September 12, 1940 in Rockford, Illinois, U.S.A. He moved from Los Angeles to Montreal in 1980, and has been a Canadian citizen since 1991. Famed as leader of the 18-piece Denny Christianson Big Band which has remained at the pinnacle of the Montreal jazz scene since he established it more than twenty years ago. He is an acclaimed musician, arranger, composer, conductor, bandleader, and (since 2001) Director of Music Studies at Toronto's internationally-respected Humber College.

He has appeared on more than 250 albums throughout his three-decade-plus career spanning Los Angeles, Montreal, and Toronto. He has performed in studio and on stage, in radio and television series and specials, at major jazz festivals, on tours throughout Europe and North America, and on recordings with an innumerable list of pop and jazz icons including Pepper Adams, Don Alias, Mose Allison, Guido Basso, Louis Bellson, Tony Bennett, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Benny Carter, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Kenny Drew, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Jon Faddis, Steve Gadd, Bill Holman, The Jackson 5, J.J. Johnson, Oliver Jones, Diana Krall, Hubert Laws, Michel Legrand, Ranee Lee, Carmen McRae, Smokey Robinson, Dianne Schuur, Ed Shaughnessy, Marvin Stamm, Kai Winding, and Stevie Wonder.

Christianson spent several years on television with Sammy Davis Jr., and recorded numerous movie soundtracks, as well as hundreds of commercials. He has been music director for 15 television shows and numerous major telethons. Christianson has written numerous commissions across Canada, including a full-length musical, and has given workshops all over North America. Perhaps best-known for his recordings and international tours with his namesake Denny Christianson Big Band, he also leads critically-lauded small group initiatives which include his fusion project, Sortie, with Alain Caron, Paul Brochu, Michel Cyr, Jean St. Jacques, and Luc Boivin, as well as his newer group which he co-leads with pianist Jan Jarczyk, featuring all original material on their first album, Goin' Places.

Prior to joining Humber College in 2001, Denny Christianson taught at McGill University, Concordia University, Universite de Montreal, and John Abbott College, also serving as Head of Music at Centennial Academy in Montreal for eight years. He led the CJAD All-City Big Band for 15 years, winning national titles at MusicFest Canada as well as awards from Jazz Report Magazine.


Denny Christianson’s seven albums (Justin Time Records) as a leader have received eight Juno and Felix nominations.