vocalist | trumpeter | composer | director | educator

Personally Speaking

Johnny Summers directs the Calgary Jazz Orchestra (CJO), which he founded in 2004. He hand-picked 16 of the best jazz artists for the 17- piece orchestra he leads with his trumpet.

The CJO operates by four main mandates:

To share the story about the history and development of jazz music and the jazz orchestra
To offer a stimulating, enjoyable and quality experience the audience won’t forget
To educate the audience – adults and children alike – on the complexity, beauty and importance of jazz music.
To provide performance opportunities and experiences for orchestra members

The CJO’s full Big Band consists of four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones and a three-piece rhythm section. Arrangements and compositions are created by the members of the Orchestra, and humor, wit and personality are provided by all!

This is not your typical orchestra: the CJO is a high energy, passionate and fun group of musicians whose goal is to engage and reach the audience with every song. The atmosphere is upbeat and fun, and is consistently enjoyed by all ages and all musical tastes.  This is a very special Calgary Jazz Band.  For tickets to Calgary Jazz Orchestra concerts click here.  Jazz Calgary.

I am a Canadian based vocalist, trumpet player, composer and arranger.  I love, and love to perform, a diverse selection of music including Jazz, Soul, Funk, Rock, Blues, Gospel and more. I love my job, and I love sharing music with people here in Calgary and anywhere that I am fortunate enough to travel to.  I hope you enjoy your stay on my site.

I knew very early on the impact music would have on my life, and the influences of such amazing artists as Harry Connick Jr. and Louis Armstrong helped to shape both my passion and career. I started studying classical music in High School, and while I entered university as a classical trumpet player I quickly switched to the jazz program in pursuit of my passion. I owe much of my growth during this period to my teacher Al Muirhead and the hours I spent everyday honing my craft.

Although I had studied classical voice and had been singing jazz onstage, my vocal ability changed forever when I spent a period of time studying 4 hours daily with Dee Daniels (international jazz, symphony and blues vocalist) in Vancouver. She became a good friend, and opened my voice up to many possibilities. We studied jazz, gospel and blues singing in depth (as well as how to make a perfect sandwich!) and I have since continued to grow and study as much as possible, in the musical – not the culinary sense.

My first jazz group, a quartet, was formed while I was in University, and I have continually created new ensembles to grow as a performer, composer and arranger. This includes my Quartet, Quintet, the Johnny Summers Little Big Band and the Johnny Summers Orchestra. My latest undertaking was the creation of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra (CJO), which I founded and currently direct, play lead trumpet and arrange over half of the music performed. The CJO serves both to showcase the amazing talent in Calgary, and to bring to Calgarians the highest quality of jazz music possible.

I have had the extreme pleasure of working with some other amazing talent in some incredible places throughout my career. A highlight was during a stay in New Orleans shortly after University, where I had the great opportunity to meet and play with some great heroes of mine who had performed with Harry Connick Jr., as well as playing with Ellis Marsalis, a great educator and pianist of modern jazz. Although our encounter was brief, Ellis is without a doubt one of the most beautiful piano players and one of the nicest gentlemen I have ever met. Meeting Ellis was additionally amazing as his son, Wynton Marsalis, is one of the most prominent jazz musicians of the modern era and easily one of my greatest role models. His soul, intelligence and musical depth is a constant inspiration and continues to help shape and strengthen my musical passion.

One of my favourite things about music is how it connects people and the feeling it gives to the audience as a whole. I have had the unique pleasure of experiencing this many times in my career, and it is the most humbling and gratifying feeling I could ask for. One that comes to mind is when we performed 4 movements of a suite I wrote called Suite Jubilation. We performed it with the Calgary Jazz Orchestra and the Rocky Mountain Choir. I must have put close to two hundred hours into writing these 4 pieces, along with a lot of soul. During the performance, myself and the musicians were completely enraptured in the music, and afterwards I found out that much of the audience was moved to tears. Having so many people talk to me afterwards with tears in their eyes was astounding. I was overwhelmed, uplifted and humbled that so many people would latch onto something that I had done. I went home that night with a fervent promise to myself to do better every time I write and perform, and to use my craft to touch and connect with people and I have tried to stay true to that ever since.

My musical vision is simple: to reach people, to bring joy, to comment on the human condition, and to connect with others through my musical passions. There is no feeling more gratifying and humbling than to have touched someone through music, and I am forever thankful for the inspiration and encouragement this affords. I hope you enjoy my website, and again thank you for visiting. I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming performances.

Wishing you all the best,

Johnny Summers

Much of the music Johnny performs with his ensembles and all of the arrangements he writes for the Calgary Jazz Orchestra, are available for purchase.

Johnny has worked extensively as an arranger for groups ranging from jazz trio, jazz quartet, jazz quintet, 3 and 4 horn charts with and without vocals, big band/jazz orchestra, strings, brass quintet, choir and 10 piece band, choir and big band/jazz orchestra and many many more.

For a list of arrangements by either Johnny Summers or the Calgary Jazz Orchestra, or for more information, please contact us.

With flowing passion and soul, Johnny Summers, a multi-talented musician, composer and arranger, is a performer of boundless ability and stage appeal. Versatility, distinction and excellence are foremost attributes, and his clever yet natural approach to both life and music offers a unique experience at every performance, and with every project. For music lovers and clients alike, Johnny offers a plethora of music and musical services, and we invite you to explore the depths of how Johnny's music is available for you.


Calgary Jazz Orchestra

At the age of 11, Johnny Summers sat in his bedroom, listening for the first time to Harry Connick Jr.’s ‘Blue Light, Red Light’ album.

The life, connection and humanity in that music, changed something inside of Johnny. That instant, he knew he was going to be a part of making that change happen inside of others.
He immediately began seeking out the best teachers he could, wherever he could. His dynamic talent as a vocalist, trumpet player, arranger and composer, was born out of a true passion to exceed the status quo at every turn. Johnny has intentionally filled his life with top professionals in numerous disciplines and continues to be inspired by many he has met along the way, from the incomparable Wynton Marsalis to the core members of Harry Connick Jr.'s band. 

This commitment to excellence and variety is evidenced in the seamless performance that he gives every time he steps onto the stage. He is a master of versatility, in both style and mood. Even after hundreds of concerts and years of working diligently on his craft, he still sees every performance as sacred. Johnny’s hours of daily practice can easily go well into the night. One of his many gifts to the audience comes in the form of expecting nothing but the best from himself and his musicians.

With unparalleled influences like Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, it comes as no surprise that he has something to offer everyone in the room. His musical abilities are accented by his natural capacity to bring wit, soul and laughter to every show.

Whether he’s fronting an 18-piece band or sitting solo in front of a piano, Johnny Summers offers and delivers something far beyond entertainment: an unforgettable experience.