Every year the Festival acknowledges musicians that have made a significant contribution to Saskatchewan's music culture through the Special Recognition Award. This award has been received by many great artists who have and continue to shape the jazz community in Saskatchewan and beyond.


The Saskatchewan Jazz Festival is honoured to present Ross Ulmer with the 2018 Special Recognition Award at 8PM on Sunday, June 24th at the Broadway Theatre.

Ross Ulmer began playing trombone in the North Battleford City Kinsmen Band under the direction of Norm Lehman. “Mr. Lehman was an incredible mentor – he was a taskmaster, very musical and loved developing talent – much of my success in music and business came from his direction.”  Upon the passing of Mr. Lehman in early 1971 Ross had the incredible experience of directing the NBCK band through the completion of his grade 12 year. 

Ross’ education continued with a Bachelor of Music (Music Education) from the University of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon’s thriving music scene offered numerous and varied opportunities in the early 70’s from soloing with the University Wind Orchestra to playing in bar bands. Among others, two mentors are fondly remembered.  Dwayne Nelson and David Kaplan were also taskmasters who demanded excellence.  It worked!  Ross won the National Music Festival Finals in 1973, and was a semi-finalist in the 1974 CBC Talent competition performing a national concerto broadcast with the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra. One event was pivotal. “In the summer of 1972 I attended the stage band camp at the Saskatchewan School of the Arts in Fort San. The clinicians included a phenomenal roster of professional North American Musicians. I heard my first real big band performance at the nightly staff concert.  Well my knee would not stop bouncing and the smile didn’t leave my face and my musical direction had forever changed!”

Ross attended North Texas State University where he was a trombone teaching assistant while obtaining his Masters of Music in trombone performance with a minor in Jazz Education.  Reflecting on the time, Ross says “I learned so much the first year, I took a year off to practice.”  After graduation from North Texas, Ross spent two years as soloist with the RCMP Band in Ottawa then left music as a full time profession in 1980.  For many years Ross continued with clinics and adjudicating throughout Saskatchewan and leading volunteer adult concert and jazz bands while in North Battleford and in Lloydminster where he now resides.  Saskatoon attendees of The Bassment jazz club may remember many ‘trombone’ groups through the years along with appearances with the SJO and various small groups. More recently Ross has organized five or six jazz events each year in Lloydminster, working with high school students and local musicians.

Reflecting on his training Ross says that the two lessons he had with Frank Rosolino many decades ago permanently impacted his style of jazz performance, but it was Phil Wilson, Ashley Alexander and Rich Matteson who contributed most to his love of jazz. “Now, I enjoy every note I play. From warming up in my practice room to backgrounds behind a vocalist, isn’t that the way it should be?”

Ross Ulmer is honoured to be the recipient of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival 2018 Special Recognition Award.


Named after the festival founder Jim Hill, The Jim Hill Festival Builder Award recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the success of the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. This award has been received by many great supporters who have and continue to shape the Jazz Festival throughout the community.


The Saskatchewan Jazz Festival is honoured to present Bob Eaton with the 2018 Jim Hill Festival Builder Award at 8PM on Tuesday, June 26th at the Broadway Theatre.

Bob’s earliest memories of jazz were dancing around the family’s living room with his sister to the sound track of the movie High Society (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly) and Ambassador Satch (Louis Armstrong and His All Stars).  By the early 1960’s he was listening to Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane.

While waiting in a line-up to see Jane Siberry perform at the Broadway Theatre in March of 1994 he was asked if he would be the Vice-chair of the Jazz Festival Organizing Committee.  “I remember thinking at the time, ‘Vice-chair, how hard can that be?  Chairing a meeting when the Chair isn’t available?”, Bob recalls.  Little did he know that the implication was that he would be the Chair in the next year and the beginning of a 24-year association with the Festival.  During that time Bob has volunteered transporting and hosting artists as well as being a member of the Board of Directors and the Chair for two years.

During this time Bob has seen the Festival grow from a budget of $300,000 and a half-time employee to a $2.2 million enterprise with 4 full-time employees.  He has always seen the distinguishing characteristic of the Festival is its connection to the community.  While he sees the Festival as not-for-profit he understands that it must be sustainable which led him to coin the motto, “We’re not in business to make money but we make money to be in business.”

You will see Bob at as many events as he can attend.  “It’s my annual music binge,” he says.  He starts downtown at the noon events, drops into the performances at the Care Homes, and comes back downtown for sound checks or supper gigs at restaurants.  And then he starts for the evening at Club Jazz, the Broadway, the Gardens, and late night at the clubs.

Bob Eaton is honoured to be the recipient of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival 2018 Jim Hill Festival Builder Award.

Past Award Recipients


1989 - Paul Perry

1990 - Gordie Brandt

1991 - Chris Gage

1992 - Bridge City Dixieland Band

1993 - Herbie Spanier

1994 - Jon Ballantyne

1995 - Bob Moyer

1996 - Solstice

1997 - Jim Moffat

1998 - Barney Kutz

1999 - Bob Klassen

2000 - Don Watson

2001 - Don Keller

2002 - Dr. Ed Lewis

2003 - Ray Dahlen Sound

2004 - Peter Dyksman

2005 - “Broadway” Bill Watson

2006 - Maurice Drouin

2007 - Pat Steel

2008 - Fred Ballantyne

2009 - Ted Warren

2010 - Jack Semple

2011 - Dean McNeill

2012 - Sheldon Corbett

2013 - Don Griffith

2014 - Kelly Jefferson

2015 - Al Muirhead

2016 - Barrie Redford

2017 - Skip Kutz


2006 - Jim Hill

2007 - Ian Wilson

2008 - Mona Chappell

2009 - Les Coleman

2010 - Elwood Flynn

2011 - The Caldwell Family

2012 - Lynne McLellan

2013 - Paulette Traynor

2014 - Spencer Early

2015 - Della Beal

2016 - Kathryn Ellis

2017 - Brian Storey