The Hardest working man

Cory Weeds

in jazz business


A saxophonist with a warm and impactful sound rooted in jazz tradition. A label owner tirelessly documenting the vital sounds of both prominent and unsung jazz heroes. One of Canada’s and North America’s most important jazz impresarios. Cory Weeds is all of these things, and much more. He’s the hardest working man in jazz business.

Weeds was the founder and owner of Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, which he successfully ran for more than 13 years. Weeds built the Cellar to become a beloved venue DownBeat Magazine acknowledged as one of North America’s best Jazz clubs, where masters such as George Coleman, Louis Hayes, Sheila Jordan, David “Fathead” Newman, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and leading jazz musicians from Vancouver, across Canada, and the U.S. performed before the last choruses were played there in February 2014.

But he wasn’t just the club owner. As a saxophonist who studied at the University of North Texas and Capilano University, Weeds spent many nights on the hallowed Cellar bandstand as a leader and sideman. He swung hard and held his own when performing with icons like Joey DeFrancesco, Christian McBride, and Harold Mabern. Weeds has recorded more than 20 albums as a leader, including his latest release Home Cookin’. His recordings have received numerous accolades worldwide, including reaching #1 on the JazzWeek charts and receiving excellent reviews from jazz journalists.

While the Cellar is now a sweet memory, the Cellar Live record label Weeds established in 2001 is alive and very well. Rebranded in 2018 as the Cellar Music Group — which includes the Cellar Live (recorded live), Cellar Music (recorded in studio), and Reel to Real Recordings (archival) imprints — has released more than 350 recordings. Many of the releases have spent extensive time on the JazzWeek charts, been reviewed in acclaimed print publications, and been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air. Weeds has also served as producer on more than 200 recordings. In 2017 Weeds celebrated a win at the Juno Awards when Metalwood won for Jazz Album Of The Year: Group for Twenty, released on Cellar Live.  

2023 was a watershed year for Weeds and the Cellar Music Group. In March of that year, Weeds and the label were awarded a Grammy Award for the eponymous Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra release in the Best Large Ensemble Jazz category. DownBeat Magazine also recognized Weeds as the #2 Rising Star Producer and Cellar Music was #8 in Record Label Of The Year. 

On the presentation front, Weeds has booked Frankie’s Jazz Club in downtown Vancouver since 2016. Weeds has continued to build Frankie’s reputation for being one of Canada’s finest jazz clubs, presenting great American players like Roy McCurdy, Bill Charlap and David Hazeltine and Vancouver stalwarts such as Brad Turner and Jodi Proznick. Then there’s Jazz at the Bolt. In 2024, Weeds presented a strong lineup for the fourth annual two-day festival at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. In addition to Frankie’s and Jazz at the Bolt, Weeds presents music all over British Columbia, Canada, and the U.S. 

Weeds has an enduring affinity with New York City. He’s brought so many of the jazz mecca’s top players to Vancouver, and has performed, toured, and recorded with many of them. Tapping into his insider knowledge of the NYC scene, Weeds has led the annual New York With Weeds tour 11 times and counting. Every year, he leads 20–30 jazz lovers to clubs off the beaten track, private recording sessions at sacred places like the Van Gelder Studio, and to many more exclusive happenings. During the 2024 tour, one of the featured events was a duo performance with Bill Charlap and Weeds.

Weeds has worked extensively as an educator, leading the BC Music Educators Association’s Honour Ensemble, giving clinics on saxophone as well as the business of music, and teaching privately. He currently serves as the president of the Fraser MacPherson Jazz Fund. In 2024, Cellar Music published its first book: Fraser MacPherson: I Don’t Have to Go Anywhere – I’m Already Here, by Fraser’s son, the late Guy MacPherson.

In 2024, Weeds was the subject of a long two-part chapter in another book, Journeys to the Bandstand: Thirty Jazz Lives in Vancouver. Author Chris Wong wrote about Weeds: “Someone like Weeds, who has made a significant difference in the lives of Vancouver jazz musicians and jazz artists further afield, doesn’t come along often … Weeds has evolved from being a cocky kid who winged it to becoming an expressive saxophonist, passionate club owner and impresario, astute record label owner, and producer with musically satisfying instincts. There have been massive challenges along the way … Weeds has met those challenges and realized ambitious jazz dreams, through his talent, sheer will, and daring.”