Now Playing:

Jeff LaRochelle

This week’s featured artist is saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, and educator Jeff LaRochelle, who participated in Jazzology in 2009.

A graduate of Humber College’s renowned music program, Jeff studied with Don Palmer, Mark Promane, Pat LaBarbera, Bruce Cassidy, and David Occhipinti. Jeff attended the Banff Centre's International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in 2011, where he was able to work with artists such as Dave Douglas, Donny McCaslin, Steve Lehman, and the group Kneebody.

Jeff has performed throughout Canada including tours in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, at festivals including the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and internationally throughout Europe and in South Korea.  Jeff is currently working on many creative projects in Toronto including his own, the jazz/chamber crossover Origins Ensemble, the improvisational trio Autobahn, and the collaborative modern jazz quartet Roarshaq, in addition to working as a sideman in a variety of different groups and genres.

Jeff took some time to describe his experience in the Jazzology program and discuss some of his recent musical activities:

1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

It was a special experience to get the opportunity to talk about music, my background and experiences up to that point, and be able to share some recordings – artists that were inspiring me at the time, and music I was writing and recording in my final year at Humber College.

2) What is your strongest memory of the Jazzology program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

I remember being fairly nervous at the start of interview, and trying to organize my thoughts in the best possible way. Luckily, Larry Green was helpful and gave me some pro tips! Afterwards, it was funny to hear that some friends had gathered around the radio to listen to the interview!

3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

This was a great opportunity to have yourself heard by many who would never hear you otherwise! I also enjoyed the time preparing for the program as it gave me some time to reflect on certain things.

4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

It was certainly a great way to practice being on a radio program and become more comfortable in the setting! Getting my music on the air was great exposure for me at the time when I was a young musician emerging from my undergraduate studies. I’m sure that it has helped in ways that I may not even realize.

5) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

I would thank them most sincerely for their contributions to supporting art in our city, particularly young and emerging talent. Experiences like these are educational and invaluable to young musicians! I hope that initiatives like these continue to be supported for future students.

6) Why is music education important?

Music education is an invaluable thing for kids and adults alike. Like other artistic disciplines, music encourages critical thinking, investigation, persistence, self-discovery, fostering a sense of community and having fun in the process. It was the means through which I discovered my musical interests and led me to study music more seriously. I feel fortunate to be active as a music educator and to be able to communicate my passion for music to my students!

7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?

Since participating in the program, I graduated from Humber College and now work in Toronto as a freelance musician, educator, and composer. I’ve had the chance to tour in Korea, Europe, and through Ontario and Quebec with various groups. I’ve also had the chance to attend the Banff Centre twice – once for the International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music Workshop and another time for an Artist Residency.

Lately, I have been working on a few projects of original music that are being released in the fall of 2014. One is a collaborative trio called Autobahn, and our music was recently featured by band mates Ian Wright and James Hill on their Jazzology sessions this year. We recorded our first record in the fall, and it’s all ready for a release in August. I have a chamber/jazz crossover project Origins Ensemble, which features my original music. We recorded some music in the winter for a debut album that’s being released in November. Additionally, I’m part of a collaborative quartet named Roarshaq. We also recorded our debut album this winter for a release later in the year and have been doing some touring across Ontario and Quebec over the past year. It’s been really challenging and fun to have some focused outlets to develop new music. There are so many great musicians in Toronto and I’m glad to be a part of the community here.

8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

I have been listening a lot to the musicians such as Andrew Hill, Joe Henderson, and Eric Dolphy recently. I am inspired by how they have been able to immerse themselves in the musical tradition, yet emerge with a very powerful and distinct voice of their own. It’s something to which I aspire.

9) What are your plans for the future?

This fall will be busy as I will be in the midst of releasing three albums! I’m trying to balance my teaching schedule with my playing schedule and also have time for my own development. In the long term, I hope to keep developing in my playing and composing, to tour more nationally and internationally, and to take some time to study abroad and expand my horizons.

10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?

My website is It is new and I’m working on adding new content and having an up-to-date calendar of events!

Roarshaq’s website is

Autobahn’s Facebook page is

11) Is there anything else that you want to add?

Thanks to JAZZ.FM91 and sponsors for putting the spotlight on young artists!

Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.


About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

Learn More about the RBC Emerging Artists Project

The Jazz Messenger

Sign up to receive our weekly e-newsletter, The Jazz Messenger.

Jazz Calendar Login

Forgot your password? Forgot your username?