Long-time Medicine Hat JazzFest Executive/Artistic Director Lyle Rebbeck will be stepping down from his position following the 2024 JazzFest.
 
Lyle was one of the founders of the Medicine Hat Jazz Society in 1991. He helped run a series that presented year-round jazz programming for 6 years before the Jazz Society began a festival inJune of 1997. Lyle took over as Executive/Artistic Director in the fall of 1998 and has served in that position ever since.
 
Of his long tenure, Lyle says, “It has been an absolute privilege to bring thousands of the world’s best musicians to our city over these many years. To meet and get to know so many talented artists, to work with the other major jazz festivals across Canada, to see the knowledge and love of jazz grow in our city and area and to see children and young people turned on to music is a satisfaction and joy beyond words.” Lyle adds, “The greatest thrill has been to see people’s faces light up as they experience great music. To see the tears and the laughter. The expressions of pure joy. To know that people have been moved and touched and changed because of great music and that this in some way has gone out into our community and made Medicine Hat a better place to live. That is more reward than anyone could ever ask for.”
 
Under Lyle’s leadership, the Medicine Hat JazzFest grew to become a week-long festival with an average annual pre-pandemic attendance that represented 10% of the city’s population.
 
Multi award-winning Canadian vocalist, pianist, composer/arranger and CBC Music national radio host Laila Biali says, “Lyle has always been the most diligent festival director, a man of detail who considers both the big picture and all the pieces that must come together to shape it. But his fierce dedication never usurps the primary driving forces I believe are behind everything he does – passion, heart and spirit. He programs creatively and collaboratively, with community engagement at all levels as both the means and the goal. Lyle is a national treasure.” 
 
Former Medicine Hat MLA and former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Bob Wanner and his partner Joan Emard Wannersay, “The name Lyle Rebbeck is synonymous with The Medicine Hat JazzFest. Lyle’s commitment, energy, time and efforts over decades has showcased Medicine Hat and its facilities to the jazz music world. The winners from his efforts have been the citizens of Medicine Hat. We now understand what Louis Armstrong once said ’To jazz or not to jazz there is no question!’”
 
Over the years, Lyle has had the pleasure of presenting suchluminaries as Lee Konitz, Arturo Sandoval, The Neville Brothers, Downchild Blues Band, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ranee Lee, Oliver Jones, Nancy King, Carol Welsman, Paquito d’Rivera, Bobby Hutcherson, Monty Alexander, Kenny Werner, Joey DeFrancesco, Patricia Barber and Guido Basso to name a few.

Lyle has also taken great pride in presenting up-and-coming artists, many who have gone on to notoriety. This list includes the likes of Michael  Kaeshammer, Laila Biali, Sophie Milman, Caity Gyorgy, Jocelyn Gould and so many more.

In 2003, Lyle was the recipient of the City of Medicine Hat Civic Recognition Cultural Award for his contribution to the arts in Medicine Hat. In 2005, he was awarded a Province of Alberta Centennial Medal for his contributions to music and the performing arts that have benefited his community and the province. In 2012, he was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his role as a teacher and mentor to students who have gone on to pursue careers in music.
 
The board of the Medicine Hat Jazz Society is working on the next steps for the JazzFest, and following this year’s festival, will be finalizing plans for the path forward at which time they will be communicating those plans to the community.

Lyle plans to help with the transition of the JazzFest to new leadership, to continue to stay involved in the Canadian jazz scene, to pursue other creative outlets and enjoy time with his family and friends.
 
Lyle offers a final word. “I want to thank the many hundreds of board and committee members, volunteers, office managers, sponsors and donors and ticket-buying patrons who have supported JazzFest over the years. It has been a delight to dance this dance with all of you. Together, we have brought a gift to our city, the benefits of which go far beyond what we will ever know. Thank you.”

Share this page!