Vic Vogel was born Viktor Stefan in 1935 to Hungarian parents living in Montreal. He began playing the piano by ear at the age of five after watching his older brother play. He also taught himself to play trombone, tuba and vibraphone, and to arrange music. By 14, he soloed on CBC programs aired nationwide.
At 16, he played the piano and occasionally trombone in Montreal nightclubs and burlesque houses. He worked to save enough money to buy the Steinway grand piano he often played in the display window of Layton Brothers at Saint Catherine and Stanley streets.
Nearing his 20th birthday, he asked Paul de Marky, Oscar Peterson’s teacher, for lessons in piano theory and analysis. In deteriorating health, de Marky referred Vogel to his colleague, Michel Hirvy. With Hirvy's guidance, Vic Vogel became a talented and prolific composer/arranger.
After having played in several orchestras of reputation, Mr. Vogel conducted in 1960 his first band at the cabaret Chez Parée in Montreal, Canada. In 1961, he carried out a tour with the Double Six of Paris and, in 1966, with the orchestra of Radio-Canada. In 1967 he founded his legendary band, Le Jazz Big Band, and they still practice every Monday night.
Emerging during the 1960s as a musician of considerable influence and bluster, Mr. Vogel has moved freely among jazz, pop and occasionally symphonic assignments. He has been the music director for many CBC/Radio-Canada variety shows, and composed the scores for CBC and CTV news programs, National Film Board documentaries, as well as films.
Vic Vogel, as he prefers to be called, has been a pivotal force in establishing Montreal as one of the world’s jazz capitals and continues to be a musical ambassador for the city. He has also helped musicians in Cuba and other developing countries to obtain the music and instruments to play their best.
Vic Vogel shared the stage with several great names of jazz, of which Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Gerry Mulligan, Slide Hampton, Cannonball Adderley, Chucho Valdés and Mel Tormé. He also accompanied Tony Bennett, Eartha Kitt, Andy Williams, Ann-Margret, Paul Anka, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jerry Lewis, Shirley MacLaine, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Michel Legrand. He's the only musician who has played twenty years in a row at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, playing concerts with Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Gerry Mulligan, Slide Hampton, Cannonball Adderley, Chucho Valdés, Oliver Jones and Mel Tormé.
While stardom lures away many luminaries, Mr. Vogel has remained staunchly loyal to Montreal and Quebec’s music scene. He has performed at every Montreal International Jazz Festival since it began in 1980. Big Band music became popular in Quebec again in large part because of Le Jazz Big Band orchestra that he formed in 1968. The band’s tour with Quebec rockers Offenbach resulted in the Offenbach en fusion LP that received the Félix Award as rock album of 1980. After several gold and platinum albums, he released his first piano solo album in 1993 consisting mostly of original material and nominated for Juno and Félix awards.
Vic Vogel considers the award-winning score he arranged for the Montreal Olympics in 1976 as one of his proudest achievements. He also has written, arranged and conducted music for ceremonies at Man and His World and at the Canada Games in 1985. His solo and smaller ensemble projects have included arranging and conducting the European Jazz Youth Orchestra in tribute to Oscar Peterson’s 80th birthday. Vogel has also arranged and conducted music for ceremonies at Expo 67, the Canada Games in 1985 and for the half-time events at the Grey Cup in 1981 and 1985. For the Olympics he arranged welcoming and theme songs from excerpts of works by André Mathieu.
In 2007, he was the subject of the feature-length documentary film, "The Brass Man" (L'homme de Cuivre) and on November 1, 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Music from Concordia University.
- 1976 — Olympique 1976
- 1980 — En Fusion (with Offenbach)
- 1982 — Vic Vogel Big Band
- 1987 — Vic Vogel and the Awesome Big Band
- 1990 — Le Big Band
- 1994 — Piano solo
- 1995 — Au revoir et merci (with Les Jérolas)
- 1999 — Je me souviens ... mon piano
- 1999 — Live — Le Jazz Big Band
- 2000 — Montréal Jazz & Blues
- 2001 — Montréal Jazz & Blues Plus (double CD/CD-ROM)
- 2004 — Hangin' Loose
- 2004 — Awesome!
- 2004 — Los Boleros Holguineros (with Alfredo Chiquitin Morales)
- 2005 — Until I Met You (with Johanne Blouin)
- 2005 — Hommage à Oscar Peterson
- 2005 — Jazz Les Folles Nuits de Montréal (with various artists)
- 2005 — Rose Rouge (with Johanne Blouin)
- 2005 — Rose Rose (with Johanne Blouin)
- 2006 — 1+1=2
- 2007 — Je joue mon piano (CD + 2DVD)
- 2012 — Piano et la voix (with Martin Deschamps)
- 2008 — Jim & Andy's
- 2008 — Les Jalouses du Blues (with Offenbach and Alys Robi)
- 2012 — Nostalgie des Fêtes (with Martin Deschamps)
Vic Vogel also made several 331⁄3 and 45 RPM recordings before 1976.