Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

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 16 students ranging from 5th – 9th grade from 13 regional schools.   The BYJB rehearses Wednesday night at the Bellingham Senior Activities Center, where 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, for 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, select students make up several smaller combos to perform at concerts, and individuals are featured on solos and vocal arrangements.

The Jazz Project charges tuition ($200 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 and can be made by clicking the donate now tab on the sidebar of this page. 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 @ 360.650.1066.


‘all concerts are free and open to the public unless marked otherwise’
Saturday, January 11, 10:30am Cordata Court, private concert for residents, parents

Thursday, Jan. 16th, 7pm Whatcom Middle School band concert @ WMS Auditorium

Sunday, Jan. 26th, 2pm @ Spring Creek, private concert for residents and parents.

Saturday, Feb 22:  10:30 am @Mount Baker Care Center, private concert for residents and parents

Saturday, Feb 28, 7-9 pm, Bellingham Senior Activities Center Swing Dance

Sat., March 7, 6-9 pm Big Band Bash XII @ The VFW Post, N. State St., Bellingham.  Fundraiser for WWU and BYJF Scholarships.   $10 suggested donation.

Sunday, March 8, 2-3pm @ The Willows, private concert for residents and parents

Friday, May 1, 6 pm ArtWalk @ LightCatcher Museum Courtyard

Sunday, May 3, 2:00pm @ Mount Baker Theatre preceding 3pm Chris Botti concert

Private concert for MBT members with C. Botti tickets only

Friday, May 8, 7pm @ Bellingham High School Auditorium; All City Jazz night
Saturday, May 9, 9-12:30 Recording at Binary Recording Studio
Saturday, June 6, Bellingham Big Band Bash XIII @ Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro 5-9 pm.  BYJB, High School Bands, WWU Big Bands, $10 suggested donation.  All proceeds benefit BYJB and WWU scholarships. 
Wednesday, June 17 Summer BYJB begins at 6pm.  openings for 7-12th grade students in big band and combos