KW Big Band Theory

Big Band classics and contemporary jazz in Kitchener/Waterloo!

Play Video

This fantastic big band packs an irresistible whallop of musical entertainment — spirited, talented and fun!

Stephen Preece, KW Jazz Room

About the Band

The Big Band Theory had its genesis in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, without any clear idea where this project might end up. And… WOW! what an explosion of sound when seventeen of Kitchener-Waterloo’s (and beyond) most talented jazzers showed up for that first rehearsal in October 2011. BBT has now finished 11 seasons of music making with a deep repertoire of period music from the swing era (Benny Goodman and Count Basie), contemporary big band arrangements (LAs Big Phat Band), 70s horn bands (Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power). With two albums under their belt (“Evidence”, featuring Don Thompson and “A Swinging Joy”, Christmas) the KW Big Band Theory is an exciting band to hear live. Come check it out, and be prepared to be blown away.

As Ken Hadley, lead alto player says: “This band will part your hair!”

With Rick Hutt and Ron Chilton behind the console and microphones, and with the support of the Waterloo Region Arts Fund, BBT is recording their third CD, in hopes of a release in early 2023. Stay tuned. This recording will feature all Canadian composers and arrangers. Here’s a video clip sneak preview.

For a 2020 testimonial, please read Testimonial Roberts Onsite 2020.

BBT played to a sell-out crowd at the Jazz Room, Waterloo, in the historic Heuther Hotel. How do 18 musicians and a conductor fit on that stage? Here’s a photo to show you how it’s done.

Live at the Jazz Room
November 18, 2022

Partners and Shoutouts:


In June, 2019, Glen Woodcock, Jazz FM 91.1 listed BBT’s recording “Evidence” as one of 14 albums keeping big band music alive. Read the article. Thank you Glen.

BBT has been pleased to work with Hep Cat Swing and the Hep Cat Hoppers, both reputable swing dance facilitators in the Waterloo Region who always augment the excitement of any swing dance.

Arts Fund circular logo 300DPI

Meet the Musical Director Meet the band

Musical Director: Jimmy “T-Bone” Edwards



In September, 2021, as we pull through the Covid-19 Pandemic and reassemble, Jimmy Edwards has stepped forward to lead the band as musical director. Jimmy was no stranger to BBT having subbed in on many occassions with the trombone section. We have really come to appreciate his ear for musical balance, his deep knowledge of big band repertoire, his nuanced approach to musical direction and his encouraging and positive energy to take BBT to the next level. Once upon a time, he was the inaugural musical director of the Royal City Big Band and now we are thrilled to have him behind the baton as well as the occasional trombone solo to front the band.

We are grateful for the leadership of Robin Habermehl (2011-2018), Robin Jessome (2018) and Sam Meakin (2019) who lead us through 2 recordings receiving national plays and many successful collaborations with Canadian jazz icons Don Thompson, John MacLeod, and Michael Occhipinti.

Meet the band

Band Members

Getting this 17-member group together for rehearsals and concerts is not an easy task.


Gabriella Ellingham

alto, bari, clarinet, flute

Ken Foster

tenor saxophone

Ken Hadley

alto sax, flute and clarinet

Taylor Ellingham

Baritone sax

Tim Moher

tenor sax


Alan Ralston


Martin Lacoste


Paul Fedherau


Randy Brown

lead trumpet


Jim Edwards

musical director, trombone

Kathryn Scobie


Paul Ellingham

Bass trombone

Robin Jessome


Sam Meakin


Steve Hagedorn


Rhythm Section

Andy Macpherson


Greg Prior


Jeff Daniels


Ralf Buschmeyer


Friends of the band

Andriy Tykhonov

Piano, keyboard

Bob Phillips


Bruce Gordon

Composer & arranger

Caleb Khuu


Chris Alcantara


Dan Brennan


Darrell Kuwabara


David Cheon


Dennis Rondeau


Derek Hines


Don Thompson

vibes, writer and arranger

Doug Stinson


Eric Probst

bass trombone

Greg Dozois


Hepcat Swing

Dancers and Instructors

Jacob Durst


John MacLeod

guest trumpet, arranger and writer

Joni NehRita


Keith Bilinsky


Kevin Kalbfleisch


Lukas Bouda


Mary-Catherine Pizzano

Matt Koebel


Michael Occhipinti

guitar, composer, arranger

Randy Lyght


Rebecca Binnendyk


Rob Gellner

Robin Habermehl

Conductor, soprano, alto & tenor sax, vocals

Ron Schirm


Ryan Cassidy

Tenor sax

Shawn Robson


Stephen Zurakowsky


Steve McDade


Tim Louis

vocalist, piano

Tyler Wagler


Urmas Soomet



Upcoming Shows


May 25, 8:00 PM

Jazz at the Registry with Chelsea McBride and BBT

cost: 30
The Registry Theatre  122 Frederick Street, Kitchener  

Composer, arranger, saxophonist, vocalist, band leader extrordinaire, Chelsea McBride (Vancouver – Toronto – New York) joins forces with this region’s premier big band as part of the Jazz at the Registry Theatre. BBT is being joined by local vocalists Jontue Elan and Nathan Martin.

Driven by an endless need for expressing herself creatively, composer and multi-instrumentalist Chelsea McBride is establishing herself as a mainstay of the Canadian and American jazz scenes. Now based in New York City, McBride made her first international trip guest conducting at the 2019 Perth International Jazz Festival and Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival in support of her recent big band recording, Aftermath. She successfully completed an 11-city cross-Canada tour with her big band, Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School, in the summer of 2018, and has performed at JazzYYC, the Halifax Jazz Festival, and the TD Toronto Jazz Festival among others. She has been named one of Canada’s top 35 jazz musicians under 35 by the CBC and was the inaugural recipient of the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Jazz Artist Award.

Dec 7, 8:00

A Big Band Christmas

The Registry Theatre  122 Frederick Street, Kitchener  

An annual Winter Tradition, join Big Band Theory and guests for our annual fundraising seasonal concert. Details to follow.

Dec 8, 3:00 matinee

A Big Band Christmas Matinee

The Registry Theatre  122 Frederick Street, Kitchener  

BBT with special guests presents their popular, annual fundraising concert held on a Sunday afternoon.


Mar 7, 8:00 PM

BBT returns to the Jazz Room

How do 18 musicians fit onto the stage at The Jazz Room? Come and find out!



    Email Address (required)


    Your Message (required)