Saxophonist, composer and educator Janis Steprans was born in Montreal in 1958. He starting playing the alto saxophone in high school. Later, he studied at McGill University with Gerry Danovitch and played in the big band, combos and saxophone quartets there, managing to win the concerto competition in 1975. Janis attended the New England Conservtory between 1982 and 1984, studying with Joe Allard. While a student at NEC, Janis played in a concert of George Russell’s Living Time Orchestra.
During the 80’s and 90’s, Janis played jazz in the various clubs that existed around Montreal. He was a member of Vic Vogel’s big band as well some of his small groups which were active at that time. He also performed with Quebec jazz musicians such as Oliver Jones, Charles Biddle, Dave Turner, Charles Ellison, Ranee Lee, Kevin Dean, Andre White and Denis Christianson, as well as playing in Joe Sullivan’s big band later on. As a participant in numerous projects recorded by the CBC and Radio-Canada (often as part of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM), Janis has accompanied international jazz artists such as Paquito d’Rivera, John Pizarelli, Randy Brecker, The Count Basie Orchestra, Michel Legrand, Slide Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie.
Janis’ jazz quartet has made a number of appearances at the FIJM. As a saxophonist, he has played on numerous occasions with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and once with the National Arts Orchestra in Ottawa. In 2000, he was chosen by Radio-Canada as Quebec’s member of the European Broadcast Union Jazz Orchestra, which was based that year in Bergen, Norway. Janis has led groups at the Off Festival de Jazz de Montréal as well as for the Calgary Jazz Is Society, and at the World Saxophone Congress. He also performed as clarinettist in the Dave Brubeck Octet at the 2008 edition of the FIJM.
Janis has recorded four solo cd’s under his own name. A fifth one, featuring Andre White on drums, Kenny Bibace, guitar and Adrian Vedaday on bass, is due to be released in the spring of 2013. Janis is an associate professor of jazz studies at Université Laval, in Quebec, Canada, a position he has held since 2004. His duties there include teaching jazz saxophone, jazz history and directing the FamulJazz big band.