Jazz Education Leader Expands Berkeley Facilities With New Classrooms, New State-of-the-Art Practice Rooms, New Listening Library and New 100-Seat Performance Space

20th Anniversary Marked With Associate of Arts Degree Program Blue/Green Advanced Ensembles North American Roots Concentration Strategic Partnership with Monterey Jazz Festival


February 20, 2018; Berkeley, California; The California Jazz Conservatory, the only independent, accredited school in America completely devoted to the study and performance of jazz, has announced the “Dawn of a New Decade”––­­a weeklong series of concerts and events celebrating the launch of the third decade of the iconic Berkeley jazz education institution.

Established in 1997 as the Jazzschool, a year-round community music education program, the California Jazz Conservatory has grown into an accredited, independent college offering a 4-year Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies degree (since 2009) and a new Associate of Arts Degree in Jazz Studies (since 2017), as well as continuing to offer its popular Jazzschool classes, workshops, summer jazz camps and intensives––a 20-year tradition of leadership in music education in the Berkeley arts community.

With the advent of its third decade, the Conservatory is taking significant steps to expand its programs and grow its facilities, plans and partnerships.

The most visible addition to the organization’s future is the Conservatory’s new 5,550 square foot annex––located at 2040 Addison Street, directly across the street from CJC’s current location––named in honor of CJC board member Jerry Fiddler. Jerry Fiddler Annex will more than double the size and scope of the Conservatory’s facilities and offerings, adding new classrooms, state-of-the-art practice facilities, a 16-station keyboard lab, and a new 100-seat performance venue, Rendon Hall. The expansion will also allow for the establishment of a much needed listening library, a new student lounge, and the addition of new office space.

The grand opening celebrations will commence on Saturday, February 24th, with an invitation-only party in honor of “those donors, faculty members, students and volunteers who have helped us reach this landmark occasion,” commented Susan Muscarella, CJC Founder, President and Dean of Instruction.

Entertainment for the VIP launch event and weeklong series of concerts is focused on performances by its students and teaching artists, reflecting the growth of the California Jazz Conservatory.

For the February 24th concert, students will be showcased in a performance by the Conservatory’s Blue Ensemble (see below), under the direction of CJC faculty member and bassist Jeff Denson. CJC faculty member, bassist Glenn Richman, will lead “Jazz Standards for Gigs” in concert. The evening will close with Cuban son, danzon, bolero and jazz by “Calle Ocho,” featuring CJC Board of Directors member and percussionist Rita Hargrave.

Other events in the week-long celebrations include:

  • Sunday, February 25th, 4:30 pm: Marcos Silva Group, led by CJC faculty member Marcos Silva, Director of CJC’s Brazilian Department ($25);
  • Monday, February 26th (6:30 pm): Participants in CJC’s Young Musicians Program in concert under the direction of CJC faculty member and Young Musicians Program Director Erik Jekabson ($10);
  • Tuesday, February 27th (8:00 pm): CJC’s Blue and Green Advanced Ensembles perform ($25);
  • Wednesday, February 28th (8:00 pm): An Evening with Jazz in the Neighborhood, featuring Wil Blades and Scott Amendola ($25), kicking off a weekly Jazz in the Neighborhood night at Fiddler Annex with two Bay Area favorites starring in this series opening concert.
  • Thursday, March 1st (8:00 pm): a special appearance by the renowned Montclair Women’s Big Band ($25);
  • Friday, March 2nd (8:00 pm): CJC Vocal Chair Laurie Antoniolli, in a rare appearance with Grammy-nominated singer/composer and CJC Artist-In-Residence Theo Bleckmann ($25);
  • Saturday, March 3rd (8:00 pm): Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Oakland’s own lauded presenter of African American Roots Music and Dance ($25);
  • Sunday, March 4th (4:30 pm): The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, a 17-piece big band, with added special guest John Santos.

On the academic side, in conjunction with its 20th anniversary in 2017, the Conservatory announced a new, 2-year Associate of Arts degree in Jazz Studies, a unique program consisting of the first two years of CJC’s Bachelor of Music degree program.

Also in 2017, the Conservatory launched the Blue and Green Ensembles, advanced-level opportunities for instrumentalists and vocalists who demonstrate artistic leadership and academic excellence. Ensemble members serve as jazz ambassadors while earning their degree in Jazz Studies from CJC.

In addition, a new area of concentration was added to the Conservatory’s Bachelor of Music degree program in 2017: A concentration in North American Roots Music focusing on examining the stylistic development and cultural origins of North American folkloric music. This new opportunity joins two existing concentrations, allowing Jazz Studies majors to specialize in one of three areas of interest: Brazilian Jazz, Audio Production (presented in conjunction with Berkeley’s famed Fantasy Studios) and the new North American Roots Music focus.

Also announced in 2017 in conjunction with the milestone anniversary: A three-year strategic partnership with another jazz icon, the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival and its Next Generation Jazz Festival, a salute to the future of jazz, held annually in downtown Monterey, California. The California Jazz Conservatory hosted the Next Generation Jazz Festival’s Opening Night Concert in 2017 and committed to hosting the event through 2019. The Conservatory celebrated the partnership with the awarding of scholarships presented to students performing at the Next Generation Jazz Festival.

For more information on the California Jazz Conservatory and to arrange a tour, please contact Paul S. Fingerote, 831.373.3343 or The California Jazz Conservatory is located at 2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, California, 94704. Website is Telephone number is 510.845.5373.


Fiddler Annex Donor Recognition

The completion of our new Jerry Fiddler Annex was made possible by generous donations from the many supporters of the California Jazz Conservatory. Following is a description of some of the highlights to be found in Fiddler Annex.

Jerry Fiddler Annex
Fiddler Annex more than doubles the Conservatory’s capacity, adding new classrooms, practice facilities, a new listening library, a new student lounge, new office space, and a classic, new performance venue, Rendon Hall.

Made possible by a gift from Jerry Fiddler, Board of Directors member and longtime benefactor of the California Jazz Conservatory.

Rendon Hall
Rendon Hall was conceived in the spirit of Minton’s Playhouse, the renowned Harlem nightclub founded by tenor saxophonist Henry Minton in 1938. Like Minton, who generously provided jazz musicians with unconditional support, the California Jazz Conservatory devotes itself to promoting artists and musicians who are, or aspire to be, at the forefront of innovation in jazz.

Made possible by a grant from vocalist Kathi Rendon and her husband trumpeter John Kainlauri, two longtime Conservatory students who provided the seed money for our campus expansion

‘Round Midnight Sculpture
Among the most iconic jazz compositions, ‘Round Midnight, was composed in 1944 by one of bebop’s revered founding fathers, pianist Thelonious “Sphere” Monk (1917 – 1982).

A staple to this day, ‘Round Midnight is one of the most performed and recorded compositions in the history of modern jazz. The sculpture of ‘Round Midnight gracing Rendon Hall was designed and fabricated by artisans at Eclipse Design, with names of supporters impressed on the notes of ‘Round Midnight.

Jennifer A. Maxwell Music Library
A music library for use by students and faculty, with thousands of jazz LPs, CDs and books.

Maxwell Student Lounge
A comfortable place for students to gather together to share ideas and enjoy a break from classes.

The Library, Lounge and ‘Round Midnight Sculpture made possible by a gift from longtime Conservatory student and drummer Jennifer A. Maxwell.

Jazz Studios
A number of donors helped us build and outfit 5 new, state-of-the-art Wenger practice studios.

The Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studio
Named in honor of Jamey Aebersold, one of the world’s most influential and highly esteemed jazz artists and educators.

The Bud Powell Jazz Studio
Made possible by a donation from Friends of the California Jazz Conservatory.

The Duke Ellington Jazz Studio
Made possible by a gift from drummer and longtime California Jazz Conservatory student and Board of Directors emeritus Danny Scher.

The Miles Davis Jazz Studio
Made possible by a gift from longtime California Jazz Conservatory benefactors John and Mary Raitt.

The Betty Carter Jazz Studio
Made possible by a gift from vocalist Hilary Perkins.

The Wayne Shorter Jazz Studio
Made possible by a gift from saxophonist Jerry Povse, longtime California Jazz Conservatory student and member of the California Jazz Conservatory Board of Directors.

The Max Roach Jazz Studio
Made possible by a gift from drummer and California Jazz Conservatory Board of Directors emeritus Bert Lubin.




CJC Students Dan Neville, Jamie Zimmer, Le Perez
Top Bay Area’s Annual Jazz Talent Search

Dan Neville, Jaime Zimmer, Dane Hurst & Le Perez – photo credit, Living Jazz


April 26, 2017; Berkeley, California; The California Jazz Conservatory (CJC), marking its twentieth anniversary as a leader in jazz education, today celebrates three of their students who placed in the top four positions in Living Jazz’s Jazz Search West 2017, the Bay Area’s annual jazz talent search for instrumentalists and vocalists, ages 15 and up.

Two California Jazz Conservatory degree program students placed first and second in the competition, with vibraphonist Dan Neville, a third-year student at CJC, winning the five-week playoff series. Vocalist Jamie Zimmer, a first-year student at CJC, was awarded second place. Fourth place was won by vocalist Le Perez, a student of the Jazzschool, CJC’s community music education program.

Neville, a full time student at the Conservatory, is a multi-instrumentalist and arranger-composer, a six-year member of SFJAZZ Center’s Monday Night Big Band. Zimmer, who also attends CJC as a full-time student, coaches young singers in the Bay Area’s Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble. Le Perez, who trained at the Conservatory’s Jazzschool, is a veteran of the Oakland Interfaith Community Choir.

About Living Jazz

Since 1984, Living Jazz has designed and launched unique music education and performance programs that instill confidence, responsibility and ambition in children; motivate people of all ages and backgrounds to reach their personal and creative potential; and unite diverse communities through their shared love of jazz and related genres. Current programs include Jazz Camp West,  Jam Camp West, “In the Name of Love”, the Annual Musical Tribute honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Living Jazz Children’s Project, and Jazz Search West.

About California Jazz Conservatory

Established in 1997 as the Jazzschool, the California Jazz Conservatory is now an accredited, independent college offering a 4-year Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies degree (since 2009) and an Associate of Arts degree in Jazz Studies (introduced in 2017), as well as continuing to offer its Jazzschool classes, workshops, summer jazz camps and intensives––a 20-year tradition of music education in the Berkeley arts community. With the advent of its third decade this year, the Conservatory is taking significant steps in expanding its programs and growing its facilities, plans and partnerships.

The California Jazz Conservatory is located at 2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, California, 94704. The website is Telephone number is 510-845-5373.

Living Jazz is located at1728 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94612. The website is Telephone number is 510-858-5313.



2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, CA. Founded by jazz pianist and educator Susan Muscarella, the California Jazz Conservatory – originally “the Jazzschool” – opened in fall of 1997 and attracted 142 students enrolled in 195 classes that first quarter.  Muscarella realized right away that the school had already outgrown the building and, in 2002, moved to a new facility in the Downtown Berkeley Arts District, not far from the U.C. Berkeley campus.

Today, the California Jazz Conservatory, which was awarded institutional accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music in 2013, serves more than 600 students each quarter/semester, taught by 65 professional jazz artists and educators.

With the addition of the degree program, it became apparent that an expansion to the campus was needed, and a search was begun for additional space.  Fortunately, 5,500 sq. ft. became available in a building directly across the street. That addition, which will contain classrooms, practice rooms, offices, a performance area, and café, will be opened in 2017 as part of the CJC’s 20th anniversary celebration.

The CJC now enjoys a growing national and international reputation as America’s only independent, accredited music conservatory devoted solely to jazz and its offshoots.

Below is The Story of the California Jazz Conservatory.


In the early 90s, jazz pianist and educator Susan Muscarella had a vision.  She wanted to build a school where students of all ages and levels of achievement could study and play jazz – a school for students who wanted to learn more about the music, and for teachers who were inspired to teach them.

Her dream was to find the very best faculty – those working musicians whose reputations were built on their work as artists and educators and who found joy in sharing their knowledge of music with others.  At that time, resources for music students were waning.  Music programs were being cut in public and private elementary, middle and high schools, and there were almost no programs for adults who wanted to learn about/play jazz. Highlights throughout the twenty years include:

Despite the fact that many around her humored her, Muscarella decided to make her dream a reality.  She found an 1890s Victorian on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley, refinanced her home to buy it, and began renovations. It took almost an entire year.

Deciding on a name for the new school was a challenge until bassist John Wiitala suggested she call it just what is was: a jazz school. She combined the two words into one and the “Jazzschool” was born.

On September 21, 1997, a concert celebrating the opening of the Jazzschool was sold out.  The next day classes began.  In that first quarter, there were 142 students enrolled in 195 classes and workshops, a surprising number even to Muscarella, because they had done almost no marketing or advertising.  It was all accomplished by word of mouth. “I remember keeping my fingers crossed,” she says, “that if we built it they would come.”  And they did.

It was at this point that she realized that they had already outgrown their current building and began the search for a larger space.

In just four years, as she searched for new quarters, student enrollment rose to 481 students in 595 classes and workshops.  She finally found the perfect location: the entire basement floor of the Kress Building right in the heart of the developing Downtown Berkeley Arts District, just blocks from the UC Berkeley campus.  Once more she took a second mortgage on her home and began renovations on the new 7,500 sq. ft. space. She designed a fundraiser to assist with the transition to the new quarters, which took the form of an oversized metal sculpture of Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite.” The size of each contribution corresponded to the length of each note of this Parker classic, which was said to be inspired by Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” The first note that was claimed was a whole note, the longest and most valuable note on the sculpture, by one of the School’s own students – retired Kaiser surgeon and jazz drummer Vaughan Johnson. She took it as a sign.

The Honorable Mayor Shirley Dean cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening of the Jazzschool’s new home at 2087 Addison Street in January of 2002.  People were lined up for more than a block to help celebrate.  The new building was both beautiful and functional, with soundproofed classrooms and practice rooms, offices, a bookstore, a café, and a performance space. Latin jazz trombonist and composer Wayne Wallace always referred to it as “One stop shopping for jazz.” At one point, there were more than 800 students enrolled each quarter, taught by 65 professional jazz artists and educators.

Inclusion of a performance space has always been very important to Muscarella who believes performing before an audience is essential to students’ education. It was also important to her to feature the faculty so that students had the opportunity to hear and be inspired by their own teachers.  Taking it one step further, regular concerts were held in the School’s performance space by professional jazz musicians.  Over the years, internationally known artists such as Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Dave Liebman, Geoffrey Keezer, Ron Carter, Peter Erskine, Bobby McFerrin, Kenny Werner, Michael Wolff, Sheila Jordan, Jovino Santos Neto, Russell Ferrante, Ambrose Akinmusire, Chico Pinheiro, and Taylor Eigsti have performed there and/or presented workshops.

In order to strengthen the financial stability of the School, it became a nonprofit organization and, under the generous guidance of now secretary Richard Lyons, a Board of Directors was formed.

Danny Scher, former vice President of Bill Graham Presents and a drum student at the Jazzzschool, offered his backyard amphitheater, Coventry Grove, for a fundraiser.  Benny Green, an admirer of Muscarella, donated his services for the sold out concert.  He even coaxed Muscarella up on the stage to play a couple of duets with him.  She proved her chops were still in excellent working order.

The Jazzschool formed its own record label “Jazzschool Records” and debuted its first release titled “Live at the Jazzschool: Dave Liebman and Mike Zilber.”

A second sold-out benefit was held at Coventry Grove in 2004, featuring the Heath Brothers.

Visiting artists included: Ledisi, Bob Sheppard, Pete Escovedo, Geoffrey Keezer, Joe Locke, Janis Siegel, Jovino Santo Neto and Mike Clark.

The Jazzschool began a collaboration with the Brubeck Institute, which brought their students to Berkeley on Fridays to study and perform.

The reputation of the School was growing to the point where one of its students, jazz pianist Barry Robertson declared: “You don’t have to go to New York anymore (to hear jazz) – it’s right here in our own backyard!”

The school originated the Downtown Berkeley Jazz Festival (DBJF), a weeklong festival designed to both feature Bay Area artists and promote Berkeley businesses. The DBJF ran for three consecutive years.

Opera star and ardent jazz fan Frederica von Stade headlined a sold-out benefit concert, together with pianist Taylor Eigsti.

That same year, Keith Johnson founded the multi-year award-winning Jazzschool Studio Band and was hired to head the Jazzschool Young Musicians Program.

Muscarella’s dream grew larger. In addition to the community education program, she began the process of designing a 4-year Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and applying for institutional accreditation.

The Jazzschool celebrated its 10th anniversary on October 9, 2007 with a star-studded benefit concerts at Yoshi’s in Oakland. Performers included Madeline Eastman, Randy Porter, John Santos, Wayne Wallace, Michael Spiro, Paul van Wageningen, Ron Stallings, Akira Tana and John Wiitala.

The School began accepting applications for its new Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies degree program.  Eligibility for accreditation with the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) involved meeting standards in the areas of administration, finance, curriculum, faculty, facilities and more. They were required to graduate at least three students from the program to be eligible for accreditation, a requirement that proved to be no small task.

Thirty-four students (instrumentalists and vocalists) enrolled in the baccalaureate degree program in the fall of 2009, beginning their journey toward earning a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, and strengthening the School’s journey toward gaining accreditation.

Launch of the first weeklong, all-day Vocal Intensive under the direction of Laurie Antonioli and artist-in-residence Theo Bleckmann. The Vocal Intensive attracts students from throughout the world. Students have the opportunity to work on technique and style with Bleckmann and Antonioli and a world-class rhythm section in an intimate setting. The Intensive culminates with a concert open to the public.

The Manhattan Transfer headlined a sold out fundraiser at Scher’s Coventry Grove amphitheater.

With the addition of the degree program, it became apparent that an expansion to the campus was needed, and a search was begun for additional space.  Fortunately, 5,500 sq. ft. became available in a building directly across the street at 2040 Addison. This addition, which will contain classrooms, practice rooms, offices, a café, and performance area, will open in 2017 as part of the CJC’s 20th anniversary celebration.

The first three students graduated from the new program, making the school eligible for accreditation.

Dave Brubeck served on the Board of Advisors until his passing in 2012.

The Jazzschool Institute was awarded accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music, becoming a four-year music conservatory with the rights and privileges to grant a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies. The institution took this opportunity to rebrand itself from “Jazzschool” to “California Jazz Conservatory.” The degree-granting program became the “California Jazz Conservatory,” or “CJC”; the non-degree-granting program became the “Jazzschool Community Music School at CJC.”

“The School intentionally chose to offer a broad-based “jazz studies” major rather than a more focused degree such as “performance” or “composition,” for example. This decision was based on the fact that most musicians must wear more than one hat to make a living in music. That is, it’s quite common for musicians to combine a performance career with a career in teaching, for example. Providing students with a broad-based foundation at the postsecondary level gives them a greater range of employment opportunities and/or opportunities to pursue a higher, more specialized degree upon graduation.”

Marian McPartland was a member of the Board of Advisors until she passed in 2013.

Two students, Kathi Rendon and her husband John Kainlauri, bestowed a  $500,000 grant on the CJC.  This gift represents the largest single gift the School has ever received, and was made even more special because it was from two of the School’s own students.

Pianist Benny Green became the first on-site Artist in Residence.

The institution signed a long-term lease on 2040 Addison, expanding their current facility by 5,500 square feet.

The CJC was approved to offer government sponsored financial aid and U.S. Visa programs, enabling more students to participate and opening the door for students from other countries.  At this point, 38% of the students are receiving financial aid, 25% are on scholarships, and students have matriculated from Columbia, Japan and Sweden.

Two new areas of study were approved by NASM: a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies with a concentration in Brazilian Jazz and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies with a concentration in Audio Production in conjunction with the renowned Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA.

A concentration in North American Roots Music and an Associate of Arts degree in Jazz Studies are pending approval by NASM.  Muscarella is currently designing a Masters of Music: The Performer/Composer.

This will be a landmark year for the California Jazz Conservatory, celebrating its 20thanniversary and the move into the additional campus, close to doubling its current size.

The CJC now enjoys a growing national and international reputation as America’s only independent, accredited music conservatory devoted solely to jazz and its offshoots.


“I’ve watched Susan’s pure labor of love grow year after year, with great admiration and respect.” – Pianist Benny Green

“…the Jazzschool has become a place where would-be pros can obtain a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies, where jazz buffs of any age can get their bebop on through the Community Music School, where you might hear the next Coltrane or Gillespie on a Sunday afternoon for the price of a latte, and where seasoned pros can polish their technique. Factor in the food at the tiny jewel-box Jazzcaffè, the extraordinary collection of CDs and sheet music on sale at the closet-size books and records store, the jazz photo exhibition by Lee Tanner and the unique energy that ripples through the place from early morning until the last class ends at night and you have an idea of why the Jazzschool counts in the jazz world…a warren of soundproofed classrooms, students of all ages and a jazz education program that has put the Jazzschool on the map as one of the most vital centers of jazz education in the West.” – David Weigand, SFGate

“I truly enjoy teaching at the CJC because the students are engaged and take the subject material seriously. They mostly want to become competent performers in a challenging but immensely rewarding art form, and I appreciate their earnest efforts in my classroom and beyond. In fact, they, the students are why I prefer teaching at the CJC as opposed to anywhere else.” – Dr. Anthony Brown, Leader of the Asian American Jazz Orchestra and Professor at CJC

“You have to understand just how difficult it is to do what the Jazzschool has done. The parallel is to keeping a jazz club afloat. Not many make it. To persevere in this culture, where the government doesn’t embrace the arts, is really swimming against the tide.”
– Wayne Wallace, Trombonist, Bandleader and owner of Patois Records

“It’s small. It’s intimate. It’s very family-like. It feels very comfortable here. And it feels homey.  It doesn’t feel like a lot of other schools that are very sterile.” ­– John Santos, Percussionist and Bandleader

“I find the professors here to be really generous with their time and really invested in the learning of their students.  My fellow students here are so supportive and the community here is so supportive.” – Hannah Levy, Voice Student at CJC

Quotes from the CJC Board of Directors

“Walk into the CJC and you can feel the vibrant energy and see its rich diversity.  It’s a musical community that is a treasure for the Bay Area. It provides a place for musicians and audiences of all ages to study and listen to jazz in a supportive and compassionate environment.” – Dr. Susan Brand, Chair

“When I went to college in the early 70’s my father and my uncle gave me Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton albums. The hope was that I would mature as a person and jazz would be part of that maturation. While in college I went to hear Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn playing with big jazz bands in Toronto. Maynard Ferguson came to my college for a concert… I was hooked. As I got older I kept looking for young jazz players. Over the years I got to see very young Wynton Marsalis, Dave Koz and Diana Krall gigs at small NYC venues like the Village Vanguard and Blue Note. I was concerned this great American art form would die off if jazz was not picked up by young musicians and supported by the public.  That is why I support the CJC! – Neil Rudolph, Treasurer

“Nothing gives me greater pleasure, as a jazz musician myself, to troll through the CJC aka Jazz School and observe the wonderful variety of student musicians of all ages, races, and skills, playing the classic instruments of jazz.  The intensity and focus of these students, not to mention their often well-practiced musical skills can bring tears to my eyes.  If only there had been a school like this in my younger life, what a pleasure that would have been.” – Michael Yovino-Young, CJC Board of Directors

“On September 21, 1997, our opening day, I remember wondering whether or not we’d even get through that first year – was as it really possible to sustain a jazz school? That is, so many people didn’t even know what jazz was – they didn’t even listen to it let alone play it. Then there was the problem that so many people thought the name “Jazzschool” was a school for jazz dance, so I had to add the tagline: “For music study and performance,” so it was clear it was a school for jazz music.

As with most nonprofits, there is never an overabundance of money, and our fledgling organization was no different. I think back to one of the faculty (Tim Volpicella) who stopped me in the School’s hallway that first quarter to tell me he thought starting a school for jazz was a terrific idea and predicted that I was going to get rich! It comes as no surprise that Tim’s prediction, in terms of becoming financially well off, never materialized – not that that was ever even a consideration. It wasn’t.  However, I did get rich in a different sense: building the school over these past twenty years has been the most fulfilling experience of my professional life.”


Black History Month Concert Series at the CJC

The California Jazz Conservatory is proud to present their annual Black History Month Concert Series this February. The series will feature local legends Frankye Kelly, Ed Reed, and Steve McQuarry as well as rising star Amina Scott. Through their own arrangements and interpretations, the artists pay tribute to the rich history of Black American music.

February 4, 8 PM • $15
Black History Month – Frankye Kelly

Frankye Kelly pays tribute to some of the great African American jazz and blues singers from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.

February 11, 8 PM • $20
Black History Month – Amina Scott Quartet

In celebrating the tradition of black American music, the Amina Scott Quartet will perform compositions ranging from Oscar Pettiford to Cedar Walton to Amina’s own music.

February 18, 8 PM • $18
Black History Month – Ed Reed

Accompanied by an elegant new trio of piano, guitar and bass, Ed Reed celebrates his 88th birthday re-imagining his favorite music from the Nat King Cole Trio and the Great American Songbook.

February 25, 8 PM • $15
Black History Month – Steve McQuarry – A Tribute To African-American Jazz Composers

The Steve McQuarry Special Edition Band presents compositions by various African American composers. With Gerald Beckett on flutes, Kash Killion on double bass, Greg German on drums and Jesus Gonzalez on congas.

With weekly concerts all year long, the CJC is an integral part of the vibrant downtown Berkeley performing arts scene. The concerts are curated to feature a diverse mix of well known local jazz veterans, national and international touring artists, and rising stars. As an institution devoted to promoting jazz, the Black History Month Concert Series is an important tradition in which we are able to reflect upon the breadth and depth of the Black Artists who came before us.


Additional site at 2040 Addison Street will feature the new 100-seat performance space,
Rendon Hall
, modeled after Harlem’s Minton’s Playhouse




              BERKELEY, CACalifornia Jazz Conservatory (CJC) — the nation’s only independent, fully accredited music conservatory devoted to the study of jazz and related styles of music — will nearly double its campus size in 2016, it was announced today by Susan Muscarella, founding President of the CJC and Jazzschool Community Music School.   Having achieved accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) in 2013, enrollment and demand in both the degree-granting program and community music school has exceeded the institution’s capacity at its home site at 2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA.  The additional facilities will be located across the street at 2040 Addison Street in the heart of Berkeley’s burgeoning Downtown Arts District.

“The pursuit of jazz education has advanced tremendously in the past decade,” comments Susan Muscarella.  “We are greatly privileged to be a part of this growth, and also feel a sense of responsibility for stewarding the next generation of jazz artists and audiences.  With the confluence of circumstances that the CJC currently benefits from—accreditation, participation in the Federal Student Aid and F-1 Visa programs, international recruitment, and curriculum growth—we are positioned at a unique moment in time to seize the opportunity for campus expansion.  This would not be possible without the generosity of our lead donors, Kathi Rendon and John Kainlauri, who share our vision to deepen the CJC’s impact on the field. “


            Eminent Bay Area architect Donn Logan will design renovations to the approximately 6,000 square foot space to include needed class and practice rooms, a large ensemble rehearsal room, keyboard lab, a library/conference room, offices, and a café open to the public.  The facilities will be acoustically enhanced throughout with Meyer Sound’s Libra panels, each featuring images by photographer Deborah O’Grady.

A chief feature of the new campus will be a 100-seat performance space, which will complement the CJC’s existing concert venue at the parent site, Hardymon Hall.  The new hall will be named in honor of longtime student and lead donor Kathi Rendon, as Rendon Hall, and modeled in the spirit of Minton’s Playhouse, the renowned Harlem nightclub founded in 1938 by tenor saxophonist Henry Minton.  The concept pays homage to Minton’s vision to provide jazz musicians with a supportive environment for creative self-expression, and whose generosity and progressive philosophy played a major role in the development of bebop, the foundation of modern jazz.

The CJC’s expanded complex will further bolster the ecology of Berkeley’s robust arts corridor that includes Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Aurora Theater, and the Arts Passage.


            Renovations for CJC’s expansion at 2040 Addison Street to support students, faculty, staff, and audience are projected at $1.2 million.  Lead gifts from Kathi Rendon and John Kainlauri, as well as other major contributors, have provided the fundamental “seed” investment for the improvement costs.  The CJC now enters the public phase of the building campaign to raise the balance of $600K, which will be supported by individual contributions, corporate, city, and state funding, and general revenues.

Individual contributors will be recognized with their names on a musical note in a sculptural representation of Thelonious Monk’s revered composition, Round Midnight.  This permanent art installation will be created by Eclipse Design and exhibited on the east wall of Rendon Hall.  ‘Round Midnight was chosen for its historical significance in the life of Minton’s Playhouse, as Monk served as the venue’s first house pianist, and it was there that he and such iconic jazz masters as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Max Roach held regular jam sessions that gave rise to bebop.  ‘Round Midnight will reflect varying sponsorship levels, with the donors name ascribed to notes that comprise the sculpture: i.e. Whole note at $50,000, Dotted half note at $25,000, Half note at $10,000, etc.


          Founded as the Jazzschool in 1997, and initially housed in a two-story landmark in downtown Berkeley, the CJC is home to both the post-secondary degree granting program (the Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Studies); and a non-degree-granting community education program (the Jazzschool Community Music School).  The CJC moved to its current location at 2087 Addison Street in the historic Kress Building in 2002.  The CJC promotes artistic innovation by bringing together a dynamic community of students, artists, educators, scholars, and audiences to develop practical skills, acquire artistic sensibility, realize creative potential, and find artistic voice.  The first class of the Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Studies program enrolled in 2009, with the first graduates emerging in 2012.  The Jazzschool Community Music School is enrolled quarterly at a capacity exceeding 500 students.

The CJC is a participant in the Federal Student Aid program, which provides eligible students with Federal tuition assistance; and in the F-1 Visa program, which allows international students to reside in the United States for the duration of their studies.  The CJC recruits internationally through the Stellar Jam International Big Band Festival in Japan; the University of Évora in Portugal; and the Hockschüle für Musik Osnabrück in Germany.

California Jazz Conservatory Celebrates International Jazz Day April 30 with Free Live Performances & More


BERKELEY, CA – The California Jazz Conservatory (CJC), in conjunction with the Downtown Berkeley Association, will celebrate International Jazz Day on Thursday, April 30 with free music and raffles at the Downtown Berkeley BART plaza.

Live jazz performed by CJC students and faculty will be the main event to commemorate this day, which was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. Starting at 4pm at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, bassist, composer and CJC professor Jeff Denson will lead the Conservatory’s degree program student jazz ensemble. At 5pm the Jazzschool Community Music School’s Brazilian ensemble will take the stage with multi-instrumentalist and faculty member Marcos Silva.

In addition to the live bands at the BART plaza, the CJC will be live-streaming the All-Star Global Concert from Paris, the 2015 host city for International Jazz Day. Some of the featured performers include Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau Diane Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller and Terri Lynne Carrington. Everyone is welcome to watch the live event from the CJC’s Hardymon Hall, a performance space located within the conservatory (2087 Addison St.) adjacent to the Jazzcaffè. Grab a cappuccino while you watch!

The CJC – a place where jazz is celebrated every day.

About the California Jazz Conservatory:
The California Jazz Conservatory (F/K/A Jazzschool, Inc.) is an innovative nonprofit organization dedicated to the study and performance of jazz — America’s national art form — and related styles of music from around the world. Founded in 1997, the institution has recently been granted accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), making it the only accredited, stand-alone conservatory devoted to jazz studies in the United States. The school is located in the heart of the vibrant Downtown Berkeley Arts District, home to Berkeley Rep, the Freight & Salvage and many other arts organizations.

Hailed as one of the nation’s most comprehensive schools of jazz and related styles of music, the CJC offers instrumentalists and vocalists of all ages and skill levels a broad spectrum of performance ensembles, lectures, workshops and private instruction. Courses are designed for the professional musician, the serious student and the jazz aficionado seeking personal enrichment.

About International Jazz Day:
International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. Each year on April 30, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change. International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month, which draws public attention to jazz and its extraordinary heritage throughout April.

Jazz pianist/composer and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock says: “On April 30th, there will be a worldwide celebration honoring jazz. Every single country on all seven continents will shine the spotlight on jazz for 24 hours straight, sharing the beauty, passion, and ethics of the music. Educators, visual artists, writers, philosophers, intellectuals, dancers, musicians of all ages and skill levels, photographers, filmmakers, videographers, bloggers and jazz enthusiasts will participate in Jazz Day by openly exchanging ideas through performances, education programs, and other creative endeavors.”

What: Live music and concert streaming from Paris, France
When: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Where: Downtown Berkeley BART plaza, Shattuck & Center St., – 4pm-6pm
and the California Jazz Conservatory, 2087 Addison St. Berkeley, 11am-6pm
FREE & open to the public



Website offers simple, convenient eGift for community school classes

BERKELEY, California (Nov. 11, 2014) –

The Jazzschool, the community education component of the California Jazz Conservatory, now makes it easier than ever to give the gift of music by offering an online giving experience. At, shoppers can purchase virtual gift cards for Jazzschool courses and workshops. The new electronic gift cards will be easy to purchase and give via email right from the California Jazz Conservatory website. eGift recipients can either print their eGift or email it to the recipient.

“We are always looking for new ways to share our course offerings with new and returning students,” says Rob Ewing, Jazzschool Director. “Whether it is for a current student or a friend across town, you are one click away from sharing the Jazzschool’s many music study options.”

Learn more about our eGift program at

About the Jazzschool Community Music School

The Jazzschool Community Music School (JCMS) is dedicated to the study and performance of jazz and related styles of music from around the world. There are dozens of exciting and fun options for both instrumentalists and vocalists of all ages and skill levels. The JCMS operates year-round on a quarterly basis, normally ten weeks during fall, winter nine weeks in spring, and seven weeks in summer.

A distinguished faculty of professional musicians and educators leads JCMS courses and workshops. Our educators have played with some of the music world’s biggest names, including Sting, Pat Metheny, Joe Henderson, Ray Charles, Dave Liebman, Carlos Santana, McCoy Tyner, Pete Escovedo, Diana Krall, Eddie

Palmieri, Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis, Joey DeFrancesco, Bobby Hutcherson, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder and countless others.

JCMS class size is limited and most courses are available on a first-come first-served basis. Early registration is highly recommended to guarantee a spot, and is available online at or by calling 510.845.5373.

April 30 — International Jazz Day


Herbie Hancock

In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month, which draws public attention to jazz and its extraordinary heritage throughout April. Legendary pianist and composer Herbie Hancock serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which is the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning, promoting and producing this annual celebration.

International-jazz-day-logoCelebrate International Jazz Day on April 30, by watching the Global Concert which will be streamed live on*. The 2014 All-Star Global Concert will feature internationally renowned artists including pianists: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Kris Bowers, John Beasley, Herbie Hancock and Makoto Ozone; vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jonathan Butler, Roberta Gambarini, Lalah Hathaway, Gregory Porter and Oumou Sangaré; trumpeters Theo Croker, Roy Hargrove, Claudio Roditi and Terumasa Hino; bassists James Genus, Marcus Miller and Esperanza Spalding; drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and T.S.Monk; percussionists Pete Escovedo and Sheila E.; saxophonists Kenny Garrett, Courtney Pine, Troy Roberts, Wayne Shorter and Lew Tabackin; trombonist Steve Turre; guitarists Chris Thomas King, Earl Klugh, John Scofield and Joe Louis Walker.

*The CJC will be streaming the live webcast of the 2014 Global Concert from Osaka Japan starting at 4pm in Hardymon Hall. Feel free to stop by and celebrate International Jazz Day with us!

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Berkeley’s Jazzschool earns conservatory accreditation – Inside Bay Area

By Zoe Young Oakland Tribune Correspondent

Laurie Antonioli

Laurie Antonioli, left, vocal performance instructor, works with students Rose Cristman, right, and Kyra Gordon as drummer Bryan Bowman and bassist John Wiitala accompany during private lessons at the former The Jazzschool Institute, now called California Jazz Conservatory, in Berkeley on Feb. 26, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Staff)

In this new incarnation the Jazzschool will be renamed the California Jazz Conservatory, with the nondegree program called the Jazzschool Community Music School at CJC. The conservatory is now the only free-standing accredited university in the nation devoted solely to the study and performance of jazz music.

Jazzschool founding President Susan Muscarella made the announcement after a four-year application process that required the Jazzschool faculty to educate and graduate three bachelor’s students.

“NASM evaluated our application by evaluating the progress our graduates had made,” Muscarella said. “You can’t just fill out an application and say, ‘You know, I’d like to be accredited today.’ You have to take a minimum of three students through your proposed course of study.”

The original CJC graduates have now received official degrees retroactively in light of the finalized accreditation. The institution now has 60 students enrolled in the degree program for the fall, though Muscarella projects higher numbers. The maximum number of students it can enroll is 120, “with 30 to 35 in each grade level,” she said.

To read complete article and to see additional photos, visit

Berkeley’s Jazzschool now the California Jazz Conservatory – SF Chronicle

Jesse Hamlin
Published 2:22 pm, Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Susan Muscarella

Susan MuscarellaFounding President and Dean of Instruction, CJC Inc.

California Jazz Conservatory: Newly accredited Berkeley school chooses 1st artist-in-residence Pianist Susan Muscarella was teaching jazz at UC Berkeley 36 years ago when she first heard Benny Green. She was auditioning the serious little swinger for the piano chair in the storied Berkeley High jazz band directed by the late Phil Hardymon, who disliked the sometimes alienating audition process, so he enlisted his friend Muscarella. She’d later hire Hardymon to teach at the jazz school she started on Shattuck Avenue in 1997, and name the performance space in the Jazzschool’s new Addison Street digs Hardymon Hall.

“Benny was amazing then,” says Muscarella, who has chosen the celebrated pianist as the first artist-in-residence at the just-accredited California Jazz Conservatory, the new name for the Jazzschool. Its four-year program offering a bachelor of music degree in jazz studies was certified this week by the National Association of Schools of Music, a major milestone that, in addition to attesting to the school’s rigorous academic and artistic standards, qualifies the conservatory’s students for federal loans and allows it to admit students from abroad.

“Accreditation is the key to our long-term sustainability,” says Muscarella, a tireless worker who has always tapped the best musicians in the area to teach at the jazz school, whose vital community classes and workshops will continue alongside the expanding programs for aspiring professional jazz performers, educators and recording specialists.

“It was always my dream to create a degree program like this, where the courses in the curriculum are mutually beneficial,” says Muscarella, whose conservatory’s general education classes connect to its core subject. The social studies requirement, for example, can be satisfied with four semesters of jazz history, from its African roots to right now; a science course covers the physics of music.

Changing the name to the California Jazz Conservatory “better reflects our mission. In three words, it sums up who we are: a serious music school in California dedicated to jazz.”

In addition to running the school and occasionally teaching private lessons there, Muscarella is finishing her doctoral thesis on the jazz piano trio. She’s getting it through the University of Évora in Portugal, whose jazz school will participate in a new exchange program with the Berkeley institution. A German music school is also going to be involved. Some young European piano player may get private lessons with Green, who learned his craft on the job, playing with Art Blakey and Betty Carter.

“Benny is the perfect mentor for our students,” says Muscarella, who hopes Green will be in residence for several years. “He’s the real deal, everything I want in a musician,” she adds, a great player who’s also “considerate and conscientious. Our degree is about music but also about preparing students for the world and making sure they have high ethical standards.”

Green was delighted when Muscarella called to offer the gig.

“I’ve watched Susan’s pure labor of love grow year after year, with great admiration and respect,” Green e-mails from Bern, Switzerland, where he’s performing with his trio. “I feel that this is a good time in my life to take more responsibility and share my experiential perspective with young folks – of all ages!

“I do my best to let my students witness my own enthusiasm for records and the joy of jazz. If they can see what this music means to me, I hope our exchange will instill something of the fire and passion I saw in my mentor-bandleaders like Betty Carter, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson. People like me, who played with people like them who played with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, are a serious young person’s link to jazz.”

To see complete article, go to www.sfgate,com.

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