Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

Under the direction of Mark Kelly, The Jazz Project’s Bellingham Youth Jazz Band begins its seventeenth year as a Jazz Project program. The BYJB provides middle school and high school students the opportunity to learn America’s original art form from the masters.  With your support, this program will enhance opportunities for young jazzers and help families foster an awareness and appreciation for jazz.  The BYJB performs concerts throughout Whatcom County each year.  Donations may be made directly to this band on this website.

The Jazz Project’s “Bellingham Youth Jazz Band” was created in 1997 by musician and educator, Mark Kelly, as a feeder program for the local high school jazz bands. The group is currently made up of TWENTY 6th – 11th grade students from Whatcom County middle and high schools.   Currently (Fall 2016) there are open spots for more trumpet players and a second drummer to complete our roster.  The BYJB meets Wednesday night at the Bellingham Senior Activities Center, where rehearsal space for the group is donated by Whatcom County Parks.

The BYJB performs about 40 free community concerts annually throughout Whatcom County in local parks, theaters, schools, nursing homes, fairs, dances, and jazz festivals.
The BYJB learns and recreates the classic American Jazz repertoire of the 1920’s – 1970’s using a standard 18 piece big band format. In addition, selected students make up several smaller combos to perform at concerts, and individuals are featured on solos and vocal arrangements.

The Jazz Project charges tuition ($160 per trimester) and seeks private and public grants and donations from the community. Fund raising activities by parents and students supplement the annual budget. The Jazz Project (a 501(c)3 non-profit), pays for music, equipment, director salary, scholarships, lessons, clinicians, and all other expenses. All contributions to The Jazz Project are tax-deductible. Contact Jud Sherwood for more information on how you can support the BYJB.

The BYJB plays regularly around Bellingham to a wide range of audiences. Mark Kelly was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award in 2000 and the San Juan Music Educator’s ‘Friend of Music’ award in 2008 for his work with these young musicians, and his band continues to create community connections across several generations with their concerts and swing dances. If you would like the BYJB to play for your event, or know someone who would like to audition for the band, please contact Mark Kelly at 360.676.5750.  Contact the Jazz Project for scholarship information and applications.


Friday, January 6, 6:30 pm @ Brookdale Fairhaven, private concert for residents, parents

Friday, January 20, 7pm @ Whatcom Middle School–band concert, open to the public

Friday, February 10, 7pm benefit dance @ Bellingham Senior Activities Center, admission by donation supports Squalicum High School Band program.

Thursday, March 23, 7pm @ Brookdale Bellingham (Cordata), private concert for residents, parents

Friday, April 14, 7-9pm Swing Dance @ Bellingham High School, Open to the public

Sunday, April 23, 3pm @ The Willows (private concert for residents)

Sunday, April 23, 5-8pm Big Band Bash III at The Majestic, Open to the public $10 suggested donation to raise scholarship funds.

Friday, May 5:  6pm @ ArtWalk @ Light Catcher Museum, Open to the public, free;

and 7pm @ Bellingham H.S. All-City Jazz Night, Open to the public, free.

Saturday, June 3, 5-8pm Big Band Bash IV@ Boundary Bay, Open to the public, suggested $10 donation goes toward student scholarships

Wednesday, June 14 6-8:30 First rehearsal of Summer 2017 BYJB (runs through early August)