ABOUT THE YARDBIRD SUITE
Founded in 1957 and operated entirely by volunteers the Yardbird Suite is the only facility of its kind in Canada.
Every weekend between the middle of September and the end of June a unique and innovative jazz experience unfolds in the Yardbird’s casual and intimate atmosphere. In addition to averaging 75 concerts a season the Yardbird currently hosts weekly Tuesday night jam sessions, sponsors the Littlebirds Big Band, presents Jazz For Kids events, and hosts the Yardbird Festival of Canadian Jazz. All while providing rehearsal space for some of Edmonton’s top musicians.
Our programming has enabled local musicians to play with luminaries of the jazz world and be broadcast nationally – in partnership with the CBC and Radio-Canada.
The Yardbird Suite has also been hailed as a Downbeat “Great Jazz Venue” multiple years running.
OUR HISTORY CIRCA 1957
The original Yardbird Suite opened its doors at 10444 Whyte Avenue in 1957. Founding members included Terry Hawkeye, Zen and Ray Magus, Ron Repka, Gary Nelson, Ken Chaney, and Neil Gunn.
In 1959 the Yardbird Suite relocated to 9810 Jasper Avenue when the Steak Loft moved from its original location on Jasper ave and 98 street. The Steak house moved into a new building further west on Jasper and the Yardbird Suite moved into the vacated Steak Loft premises. The Yardbird Suite operated at this location pretty much as it does today with the exception that the volunteers in those days were all musicians and their wives and girlfriends. In those days the Yardbird Suite operated most often 5 days a week.
After almost a decade on Jasper Ave the Yardbird Suite moved once again. This time back to the south side in an old VW garage across from the old CP station on 102st and 81st Avenue.
In 1973 the Edmonton Jazz Society, a non-profit organization, was formed to promote live jazz music in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The EJS and the Yardbird Suite reorganized, closed the location on 102st and 81st Ave and continued to stage concerts at the Captain’s Cabin on 89 Avenue and 99 Street, Palm’s Cafe and a few other locations. EJS continues to provide Edmonton with jazz entertainment and education today thanks to support from government programs, foundations, and individual donations. Entirely volunteer run, the Edmonton Jazz Society continues to operate successfully thanks to the volunteer contribution of board members, individuals, staff, musicians, and patrons.
On September 13th 1984, thanks to the hard work and dedication of a volunteer crew, the Yardbird suite reopened at its current location at 11 Tommy Banks Way. Known then as the Malone Warehouse.
Want to dig a little deeper into our history? Visit our archive site here
TODAY AT THE YARDBIRD SUITE
Today the Yardbird Suite presents over 75 shows a year in addition to hosting our regular Tuesday Night Jams and YEG Thursday Night Showcase shows.
The Yardbird Suite is also home to the Littlebirds youth jazz bands and Jazz For Kids educational shows as well as being home to the Yardbird Suite Jazz Orchestra and the Yardbird Suite Allstars.
Edmonton’s own Yardbird Suite Jazz Orchestra (YSJO) is the Yardbird Suite’s resident big band. The YSJO presents three concerts per season, and each concert is directed by a different local musician. Furthermore, each YSJO concert features a line-up unique from the last, so it is a great way to hear a wide variety of Edmonton’s finest jazzers. In the past, YSJO concerts have presented original compositions by Edmontonian musicians, tributes to jazz legends, and era-specific concerts. Keep your eyes peeled for the next YSJO concert the Suite has to offer!
The Yardbird Suite All Stars is a group of rotating members that annually pays tribute to iconic jazz musicians and albums through live concerts presented at the Yardbird Suite. In the past, the Yardbird Suite All Stars have performed tributes to albums such as Bitches Brew, to artists such as Wynton Marsalis, and composers such as Duke Ellington and his Nutcracker Suite arrangements.