23 students, 5 bands: the Fraser MacPherson Jazz Fundraiser

A full house of Cap combo recitals at Frankie's

L-R: Glenn Lemieux, Robin Comeau, Steve Kaldestad, Robert Helgason at Frankie's
L-R: Glenn Lemieux on piano, Robin Comeau on trumpet, Steve Kaldestad on tenor saxophone, & Robert Helgason on guitar in the first combo at Frankie's on March 31, 2022.

The Fraser MacPherson Fundraiser at Frankie's

You won't get a more comprehensive dose of local jazz students' talent than this: a fundraiser for the Fraser MacPherson Jazz Fund (FMJF), held at Frankie's last Thursday, March 31, 2022.

The FMJF is a non-profit organization that provides local jazz students with scholarships and workshops, so this event is a perfect brand match – all the more so because Cory Weeds is now the president on FMJF's board.

At the fundraiser, mostly fourth-year students at Capilano University performed their ensemble recitals ("combo class") with some faculty – Brad Turner, Steve Kaldestad and more – as guests.

This roundup of the night's five combos will walk you through some of the outstanding traits on display by the up-and-coming musicians.

First band

photo at the top

  • Robin Comeau on trumpet
  • Robert Helgason on guitar dropped an enviably good piece of stage banter, about how he wrote his original tune while driving a tractor in Saskatchewan (you had to be there!)
  • Glenn Lemieux on piano
  • David Caballero on bass, who played a full-on gig at Frankie's with Atley King earlier in March 2022
  • Casey Anderson on drums
  • Faculty guest: Steve Kaldestad on tenor saxophone
  1. Minor Meeting (Sonny Clark)
  2. Relapse (Robert Helgason)
  3. Yardbird Suite (Charlie Parker)


  • Michelle Escudero on vocals
  • Eric Bates on guitar
  • Jacob Chapman on piano
  • Faculty guest: André Lachance on bass
  • Elijah Tisalona on drums
  1. Overture (Jacob Chapman)
  2. You Don’t Know What Love Is (Don Raye & Gene de Paul)
  3. Meant to Be (Michelle Escudero)


  • Feven Kidane on trumpet; I've heard Feven a lot lately, and although she brings unfettered force to the trumpet, she is a good listener and respectful bandmate
  • Gordy Li on tenor saxophone
  • Casey Thomas-Burns on trombone and vocals, who performed with Sister Jazz Orchestra and NiteCap recently
  • Ben Millman on piano, who plays a lot of keyboard gigs out there in the broader pop/R&B/folk music scene, was the biggest showman of the night but came across as likeable
  • Cole Woodland on bass
  • Adrian Leung on drums
  1. Virulence (Cole Woodland)
  2. Inner Urge (Joe Henderson)
  3. What Shall We Do (Moonchild) featuring Casey on vocals


  • Tess Meckling on vocals; she says she doesn't really like singing jazz, but sounded pretty good
  • Jacob Elwood on saxophone
  • Andrés Coronado on guitar
  • Arlo Spring on piano
  • King Udofia on bass
  • Karl DeJong on drums
  • Faculty guest: Brad Turner on trumpet
  1. Horizon (Karl DeJong)
  2. If You Could See Me Now (Tadd Dameron with lyrics by Carl Sigman) featuring Casey Thomas-Burns on trombone
  3. Mr. Turner in Spain (King Udofia), the most comfortable non-swing groove of the night


  • Mackenzie Tran on vocals
  • Connor Lum on alto saxophone, probably the most outstanding soloist of the night
  • Harrison Ivaz on guitar, who had the biggest crowd reaction with his John Pizzarelli-style guitar+scat solo on the final number
  • Ben Millman on piano again
  • Colin Zacharias on bass
  • Adrian Leung on drums again
  • Faculty guests: Brad Turner on trumpet, Jennifer Scott on vocals
  1. Love You Better (Ben Millman), a cheesy vocal swing number but played with a nice timefeel
  2. Blue (Connor Lum)
  3. Death to a Star (Colin Zacharias) featuring Jennifer Scott; Colin said he drew inspiration from Vincent van Gogh
  4. Tripod (Harrison Ivaz), a rhythm changes tune

Wrapping up

As you can imagine, on Thursday night, dozens of performers shuffled around a packed, excited room at Frankie's while cheering each other on.

Keep an eye out for some of these young talents.

Correction: the delivered version of this Update didn't include Jacob Elwood in the list of the fourth band's members. I apologize for the omission, and I've added Jacob's name to that list.

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