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This project was made possible by funding through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy and the Heritage Policy Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Canadian Heritage

P.J. Perry

Biography

P.J. (PAUL JOHN) PERRY (alto saxophonist, tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist, piccolo-player) was born on December 2, 1941 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His father was prominent Western Canadian band leader Paul Perry, who began featuring his son playing saxophone in his band when P.J. was just 14 years old. In the ensuing years, P.J. has shared stages with countless jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Pepper Adams, Kenny Wheeler, Tom Harrell, Rob McConnell, Slide Hampton, Herb Spanier, Bobby Shew, Fraser McPherson, Ellis Marsalis, Joe LaBarbera, Clarence “Big” Miller, and Red Rodney, and has long been recognized by critics, colleagues, and listeners as one of North America's premier saxophonists

Perry began playing the clarinet and piano as a youngster attending school wherever his father’s career took the family throughout Western Canada, moving often from Medicine Hat, Calgary, and Sylvan Lake in Alberta; Regina, Saskatchewan; and Vancouver.

P.J. moved to Toronto in 1959 and quickly became a key player with the biggest and best of the bands on the scene there, Ron Collier, Sonny Greenwich, and Rob McConnell. He played in Maury Kaye’s Quartet in Montreal in 1962, and from 1963 to 1966, lived in Europe, playing in England, France, and Germany with the Chico Arnaz Band, Annie Ross, Brian Auger, and others. When he returned to Canada, it was to take up residence in Edmonton, Alberta, where after stints living and performing elsewhere since, he lives today. There he began working with the Tommy Banks Band, performing live six nights a week, and playing lead alto on ‘The Tommy Banks Show’ seen on CBC Television and ITV for 15 years from 1968 to 1983.

He was a member of Vancouver’s ‘Pacific Salt’ for three years beginning in 1972, and in 1975, joined ‘The Boss Brass’ Toronto-based big band, where he would occupy a featured chair for many years. He was later a member of the ‘Rob McConnell Tentet’ for a three-year period. He moved back to Toronto for three years in 1981, continuing to work with ‘The Boss Brass’ and touring giants of the jazz world.

He has had a long relationship performing and recording with The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and has also performed with the Vancouver and Vancouver Island Symphonies, the Winnipeg Symphony, the Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Symphony, the Kamloops (British Columbia) Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Nanaimo (B.C.) Symphony, the Montreal Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo, the Halifax (Nova Scotia) Symphony, and the Monterey (Mexico) Symphony Orchestras. In 1999, he produced a series of more than 60 “Jazz and Reflections” Concerts at Ritchie United Church in Edmonton, intended to introduce jazz to the uninitiated.

Perry continues to be active across Canada as a studio musician, jazz soloist, concert performer, a regular performer for the CBC Radio and Television networks, and recording artist with Justin Time Records. He was engaged as a featured performer in the Centennial Celebrations of both Alberta (2005) and Saskatchewan (2006), and with the Alberta Tourism performance at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., illustrating his prominent role in Canada’s musical history.

P.J. Perry led his own Quartet during the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concert Series at the Ontario Science Centre on November 29, 1982.

Awards:

1993 – JUNO Award for Best Jazz Album 'My Ideal'

1993 – Winner of Jazz Report Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Award” for ‘Best Alto Saxophonist’

1994 – Winner of Jazz Report Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Award” for ‘Best Alto Saxophonist’

1995 – Winner of Jazz Report Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Award” for ‘Best Alto Saxophonist’

1996 – Winner of Jazz Report Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Award” for ‘Best Alto Saxophonist’

1997 – Winner of Jazz Report Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Award” for ‘Best Alto Saxophonist’

1998 – Winner of Jazz Report Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Award” for ‘Best Alto Saxophonist’

1999 – Winner of Jazz Report Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Award” for ‘Best Alto Saxophonist’

2000 – JUNO Nominee for Best Traditional Jazz Album (‘P.J. Perry & The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’)

2007 - Recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Alberta