The Jean Lessard big band started up in 1995 on Monday evenings (the traditional night off for gigging musicians) as a rehearsal group for working professionals to keep their chops up by playing through some repertoire for jazz orchestra that was more demanding than the normal fare. The band had no name until they were forced to choose one for their first public performance in 2002.
Directed and organized by saxophonist and big band aficionado Jean Lessard, the band regularly attracts the top musicians in town as much for the social aspect as for the quality of the works played. Jean has scoured publisher's catalogues and telephoned around the world to find works by the best composers and arrangers from some of the greatest jazz bands in the world.
Because of the presence of Vanier faculty and alumni in the band, Vanier College has supplied a rehearsal space for the last several years. In return, the band is happy to show off in front of an attentive audience. To relieve M. Lessard of some of the stress of live performance, Vanier music teacher Christopher Smith vacates a trombone chair to take the helm for this evening.