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Will Bonness

JUNO-winning pianist Will Bonness has been active on the Winnipeg, Canadian and international jazz scenes for two decades. At 17, Will joined Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau Band for a world tour, which included performances in Europe, Thailand, and the Caribbean. He has performed at many of the major jazz festivals in Canada and the United States, as well as in the world’s most prestigious venues, with such luminaries as Jon Gordon, Avishai Cohen, Quincy Davis, Jimmy Greene, and Derrick Gardner. Locally, he can often be seen performing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra. Will’s performance career has led him to spend substantial time in New York City, where he has played at the Blue Note, Smalls, and Dizzy’s. Aside from his performances, he maintains a full-time teaching position at the University of Manitoba, where he has taught music for the past 12 years. Will has four releases to his credit: "Subtle Fire" (2009), "Halcyon" (2016), "Change of Plans" (2020), and "Is This a Dream?" (2023).

"Change of Plans" won the 2021 JUNO Award for Jazz Album of the Year (Solo). Will was named Jazz Artist of the Year at the 2021 Western Canada Music Awards.

He has also appeared as a side-musician on over 30 albums, many of which have been nominated for or won JUNO and Western Canada Music Awards.


Jazz Album of the Year (Solo) - 2021 JUNO Awards

Jazz Artist of the Year - 2021 Western Canada Music Awards


Album Review

Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra: Tidal Currents: East Meets West

Read "Tidal Currents: East Meets West" reviewed by Jack Bowers

When it comes to appraising contemporary big bands, Canada's Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra is on equal footing with the best of them. For its seventh album, Tidal Currents, the WJO has engaged two of that country's leading jazz composers, Jill Townsend and Christine Jensen, to present in musical terms impressions of places that have a special meaning to them, in particular the bodies of water that inspired them in their younger years and up to this point in time.

Album Review

Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra: Voices: A Musical Heritage

Read "Voices: A Musical Heritage" reviewed by Jack Bowers

No matter where in the world one looks, there is musical history worth exploring and celebrating--which is what the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra sets out to affirm on its sixth album, Voices: A Musical Heritage. Winnipeg is the capital of Canada's Manitoba Province, and Voices pays tribute to the area's rich and expansive musical fabric via a series of eight compositions designed to exemplify some of Manitoba's far-flung heritage: First Nations, Metis, Ukrainian, Jewish, Chilean, Brazilian, Nigerian and Icelandic.

Album Review

Jon Gordon: Stranger Than Fiction

Read "Stranger Than Fiction" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi

Più noto come eccellente sax contralto e leader di un apprezzato quartetto, Jon Gordon torna a incidere un disco orchestrale per la ArtistShare, dopo l'album Evolution del lontano 2009. Registrato nel mezzo della pandemia, con tutte le difficoltà e restrizioni che sappiamo, il nuovo lavoro rinnova la collaborazione col trombonista e arrangiatore Alan Ferber che partecipa al progetto nel triplice ruolo di co-produttore, arrangiatore di un brano ("Havens") e solista di trombone. Il medio organico include anche il clarinetto basso ...

Album Review

Jon Gordon: Stranger Than Fiction

Read "Stranger Than Fiction" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Saxophonist Jon Gordon's superb 13th release as a leader, Stranger Than Fiction, consists of 10 cinematic and captivating originals. Gordon leads a large ensemble of mostly Canadian musicians through his vibrantly textured compositions. The focus is more on dynamic interplay of different band members and orchestral segments than on individual expressions. There are, however, brilliantly virtuosic soloists who seamlessly emerge out of these vividly ebullient works making them even more electrifyingly alive. Opening with delightfully dissonant staccato woodwinds ...

Album Review

Jon Gordon: Stranger Than Fiction

Read "Stranger Than Fiction" reviewed by Jack Bowers

New York-bred alto saxophonist Jon Gordon has come a long way since he was hailed as something of a prodigy in the mid-1980s and earned first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition in 1996. The music performed by Gordon's nonet on Stranger Than Fiction, we are told, “reflects [his] realization that reality takes twists and turns [that are] far more unpredictable than any author would dare write." There are indeed many twists and turns—most ...

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“Will Bonness is one of the finest jazz pianists of his generation, and one of the most important jazz musicians in Canada.”

Jon Gordon, winner of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Saxophone Competition


The music here shows Bonness is developing his arranging skills and finding increased confidence in his playing. There is energy and focus that is tangible. The opening track, Burning Bridges, is an uptempo romp with everyone digging in. The pianist has a McCoy Tynerish rhythmic style at times that moves the whole track forward. The arrangements are tight with good solo space… It is always fun to listen to local jazz and appreciate that it holds its own with jazz from anywhere. Bonness first caught my attention when, as a very young pianist, he was sneaking in Monk as background music at a house party I attended. He has come a long way. ★★★★ out of five
Keith Black – Winnipeg Free Press

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Primary Instrument






Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Tidal Currents: East...

Chronograph Records


7th Ave South



Voices: A Musical...

Self Produced


We Want All the Same...

Chronograph Records


Change Of Plans

Self Produced


Rock Skipping Under the Half Moon

From: Tidal Currents: East Meets West
By Will Bonness


From: Voices: A Musical Heritage
By Will Bonness

Each Hidden Joy

From: We Want All the Same Things
By Will Bonness

Guiding Light

From: Change Of Plans
By Will Bonness


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