{TD Jazz Intensive performance, 2016 festival, photo by Nicole Romanoff Photography}

The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival believes in supporting the musicians of tomorrow by providing opportunities that will assist secondary and post-secondary students develop as artists. With the support of TD, the festival is proud to present the TD Jazz Intensive, a week-long workshop running from June 26 to July 1, 2017.




The festival welcomes all secondary and post-secondary musicians to participate in a creative and celebratory jazz education experience like no other. This unique and innovative 6-day jazz education opportunity is open to students on all instruments and at all levels. Under the guidance of distinguished jazz educators, program participants will create and work toward a public performance at The Bassment, the home of jazz in Saskatoon, on Saturday, July 1, 2017. 

The TD Jazz Intensive offers an extensive and broad range of valued musical experiences and opportunities, including:

  • Diving into jazz history, theory, improvisation, combo, composition, arranging
  • Discussing artist career development strategies 
  • Meeting like minded peers from across Western Canada eager to develop their jazz specific skill sets and networks 
  • Working with select headliners who will visit specifically with participants
  • Taking challenging classes with an award-winning, all Canadian faculty
  • Participating in jam sessions with faculty
  • Performing in jazz combo and big band ensembles during the festival at The Bassment Club and PotashCorp Free Stage
  • Receiving a Festival Pass providing access to all non-sold out shows*  
  • New! Taking vocal jazz workshops 

*Must be presented 10 minutes prior to show time with ID to be admitted, 19+ shows require ID for proof of age.


Most of the costs of conducting the TD Jazz Intensive are borne by its generous sponsors. Only a small portion of the cost is charged to the participants.

All applicants to the program must submit an application. A participation fee of $125 applies for each musician accepted into the program. This is only charged if the applicant is successful. Students from outside Saskatoon are responsible for their own transportation, accommodations and meals. Do not send the participation fee with your application. You will be contacted for payment information if you are accepted into the program.

Payment methods: Cash, debit, Visa, MasterCard or cheque (payable to Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Inc.). Note: Cheques will not be cashed until after the applicant has been informed they were accepted into the program.



What makes this experience particularly exciting and completely unique in our province is the opportunity for students to interact with touring musicians performing at the festival. At least one touring musician will drop in on the program and conduct a workshop with the students. The students will also have the opportunity to be part of the audience at many shows.

Dean McNeill - Program Coordinator/High Brass/Large Jazz Ensemble


Award winning Canadian trumpet player/composer Dean McNeill regularly performs in both the classical and jazz idioms and has been a faculty member at University of Saskatchewan Dept. of Music for the past 18 years. During this time Dean has performed and adjudicating throughout Canada and the United States, released 2 critically acclaimed CDs as a leader, and produced and/or performed on over 12 CDs. Dean is the recipient of the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival’s Special Recognition Award, UofS’s campus-wide Student Union Teaching Excellence Award, UofS Dept. of Music’s Dwaine Nelson Teaching Award, and, a Downbeat Magazine big band arranging award. As an ensemble conductor and engaged music educator Dean has taught the UofS Jazz Ensemble, the International Music Camp’s (IMC) student big band, IMC Faculty Jazz Ensemble, UofS Kenderdine Campus Summer Jazz Retreat, the SaskTel Jazz Festival Jazz Intensive, and, he has led many of his own professional bands on Canadian tours. Since its inception Dean has been the Artistic Director of the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra. Dean has performed 4 times at the Western Canadian Music Awards (W.C.M.A.) within various projects that have been nominated for W.C.M.A.s.  

Jeff Presslaff - Low Brass and Resident Composer


Jeff Presslaff is an award-winning trombonist, pianist, composer, arranger and producer, who has played with and written for a wide variety of performers and ensembles ranging from big band to symphony orchestra to clarinet choir to indie rock band. He has seven albums under his own name (two nominated for WCMA Jazz Album of the Year), and has contributed to many others. He is the principal arranger for the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, and Jeff has composed the world's first concerto for cello and big band. He has taught at Princeton University, Bard College, Union College, University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg and the International Music Camp.

Amanda Tosoff - Piano


Amanda Tosoff is a Vancouver-born, Toronto-based pianist, composer and bandleader. Her groups have performed across Canada and abroad, and have opened for such luminaries as Bobby Hutcherson, Renee Rosnes, Oliver Jones, and Luciana Souza. As a bandleader, Amanda has released five recordings that feature her own original compositions. Her most recent, "Words" features her songs with poems by Canadian poets Tim Bowling, Laura Lush, Carole Langille, among others. Amanda holds an BA in Jazz Performance from Capilano University, an MA in Musicology/Theory from the University of Toronto, and is currently on faculty at Humber College and Merriam Music School. She teaches jazz piano lessons, and group classes on jazz theory, comping, ear training, and improvisation.

Soren Nissen - Bass


Soren Nissen plays bass and is an in demand performer and educator in Toronto and abroad.  His musical roots are tied to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where mentors such as Dean McNeill and Mark DeJong helped him develop a passion for music.  Soren moved to Toronto in 2008 to study bass at Humber College and since graduating has since been a full time performer and educator.  Soren runs a private teaching studio and is on faculty at the Humber College Community Music program. He has also been on faculty at the Global Music Institute in New Delhi, India. Soren is a past participant of the TD Jazz Intensive and now continues his involvement on the educational side as a returning faculty member.

Dr. Jon McCaslin - Drums


Dr. Jon McCaslin is an accomplished jazz drummer, vibraphonist and composer/arranger based out of Calgary, Alberta. He is a leader and co-leader of various contemporary jazz projects. He has also performed across the country with many of Canada's renowned jazz artists. As an eternal student of the art of jazz drumming, his quest is to continue the legacy of the great jazz drummers and to "lift the bandstand" with an urgent sense of swing, taste and musicality on the drums. Dr. McCaslin recently completed his doctoral studies through the University of Toronto, researching the conceptualization and practice of melodic jazz drumming.

Tara Davidson - Sax


Tara Davidson is a multi-JUNO Award nominated alto and soprano saxophonist who has performed around the world at such prestigious venues as New York City’s Carnegie Hall, the acclaimed North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, the International Jazz Festival in Lima, Peru, and The Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C. As a bandleader, Davidson has produced five recordings since 2004 and performed on more than thirty recordings as a side person. Three of her five recordings as a leader have been nominated by the JUNO Awards for “Album of the Year” in both the “Traditional” and “Solo” jazz categories. Davidson is an active educator presently on faculty at York University (Toronto), the Humber College Community Music School (Toronto) and the National Music Camp of Canada (Jazz Faculty).

Mike Rud - Guitar


Juno-ward-winner guitarist Mike Rud has lived and played all over Canada, teaching at schools like McGill and the University of Western Washington. Mike has a Masters’ degree in jazz performance, and has published four albums, ranging from amazing solo voice-and-guitar work, to large ensembles with strings. He studied privately in New York with the father of modern jazz guitar, Jim Hall, and studied the cognitive neuroscience of music in the laboratory of Daniel Levitin, author of New York Times Bestseller This is Your Brain on Music. Mike has taught many workshops, where students love his entertaining approach.

Sienna Dahlen - Vocal Jazz


Photo by Randy Cole

Juno-award winning vocalist, Sienna Dahlen is also a multi-instrumentalist, educator and songwriter/composer of jazz and other styles of creative music. She has had the immense pleasure of performing her music for audiences throughout most of Europe, parts of the US, Mexico, Argentina and across Canada. Sienna’s current album as a leader entitled, “Ice Age Paradise” is dedicated to the singer’s mother, Sharon Dahlen.

Sienna has toured her music extensively across Canada, Europe, and parts of the US in addition to numerous appearances in Mexico and South America. Sienna has also collaborated on several national and international projects as a co-leader/lyricist with musicians such as Joel Miller and his Dream Cassette band (Canada), Mads Baerentzen’s Lifelines project (Denmark), Lebanese pianist and composer, Wassim Soubra's Dunes album (France) and Paris-based Canadian drummer, Karl Jannuska’s Streaming and The Halfway Tree records.

Joseph Ashong - Drums


Joseph Ashong, Master drummer, professional dancer, choreographer, composer, recording artist and teacher, was born in Accra, Ghana, West Africa.  He is of both Ga and Krobo tribal heritage. Inspired by traditional music at an early age, he began learning music in school and continued his studies with teachers both in Accra and Somanya, his mother’s village. Throughout his school years, Joseph was active in both music and dance, performing with community groups and on his own in both popular and traditional dance competitions.

Ashong came to Canada in 1991, making Toronto his first stop. He has accompanied Toronto dance groups including the Ballet Creole Dance Company, C.O.B.A. (Coalition of Black Artists), and the Afro-Caribbean Dance Group.  Ashong’s contribution to Toronto’s African music scene is well known and respected. In 1997, Ashong was presented with Music Africa’s “Best Male Performer” award, and his group, Flaming Dono Drum and Dance Ensemble, won Music Africa’s award for “Best African Group – Traditional” in 1994.  

Ashong now resides in Saskatoon, where he continues his involvement in the music and arts scene. In the summers of 2004, 2005 and 2007 he taught at the University of Saskatchewan during Summer Session and continues to teach hand drumming and West African dance workshops.