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Jazz music will fill Red Deer’s Gaetz Memorial United Church next week

New jazz group seeks to fill musical hole left in Red Deer by planning new concerts
From left, Joel Gray, Morgan McKee and Rob Goodwin will perform as at the Nov. 19 Jazz Festival at Gaetz Memorial United Church in Red Deer. (Advocate file photo).

The first-annual Jazz Festival is coming to Red Deer next week to enrich the local music scene while raising donations for the local food bank.

The trio that will be playing everything from New Orleans jazz to swing and more modern permutations, is Morgan McKee on piano, Joel Gray on trumpet and Rob Goodwin in drums. They will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Gaetz Memorial United Church, 4758 Ross Street.

This show is being presented by a new group called Red Deer Community For Jazz Music. Founded by Andrew Ludtke last summer, it already has 310 members, about half of them musicians.

Ludtke taught trombone at Red Deer College before music programs were discontinued at the facility in 2018. He has since realized local musicians need new opportunities to connect with local audiences since the college is no longer the centre of the city’s music scene.

“The program’s suspension left a huge hole in Red Deer,” said Ludtke, who is pleased many former RDC music teachers and other musicians are “sticking together” to help fill it.

Red Deer pianist McKee is excited to be playing standards and a few original tunes at the Jazz Festival with two of his favourite players: Joel ‘Spanky’ Gray, of Edmonton, “is one of the finest musicians I have ever had the chance to work,” he added, while Rob Goodwin, of Red Deer, “is one of my all time fav. drummers.”

McKee has mostly been playing out-of-town shows in Calgary, Edmonton and Banff over the past few years, so looks forward to having more opportunities to perform for hometown crowds.

The Jazz Festival will be the first of three events featuring members of the Red Deer Community For Jazz Music that are scheduled before the end of this year.

Ludtke noted a trio of jazz musicians will also play at the Red Deer Downtown Business Association’s Winter Market in the Millennium Centre on Dec. 9 and 10, while a “little big band” will perform at A Night at the Blue Note dance show at Bo’s Bar and Stage on Dec. 12.

Organizers of the Jazz Festival on Nov. 19 are hoping to collect a lot of food bank donations at next week’s show.

Red Deer Food Bank’s executive-director Mitch Thomson spoke out earlier this fall about how rapidly rising demand for hampers has at times been outstripping food supplies. The food bank’s shelves were much barer than usual last month.

Many central Albertans are continuing to struggle with the impacts in inflation, higher interest rates, and the lingering effects of the pandemic and economic slow-down, said Thomson, who was pleased local groups have been rallying to help the cause.

For more information, or for tickets to the Nov. 19 Jazz Festival, please email

Please contact Bo’s for more information about the Dec. 12 show.