Legendary Berkeley Jazz Education Icon Celebrates New Fiddler Annex, Announces New Associate of Arts Degree, Launches New North American Roots Music Concentration, Establishes New Advanced Level Ensembles, Partners with Monterey Jazz Festival Jazz Education Programs
May 4, 2017; Berkeley, California; The California Jazz Conservatory, the only accredited independent school in America completely devoted to the study and performance of jazz, has announced multiple plans and programs for celebrating its milestone year in 2017, the 20th anniversary of the iconic Berkeley jazz education institution.
Established in 1997 as the Jazzschool, a year-round community music education program, the organization is now an accredited, independent college offering a 4-year Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies degree (since 2009), 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, the Conservatory is taking significant steps in expanding its programs and growing its facilities, plans and partnerships.
The Conservatory announced the new developments and directions while reflecting on its lauded past in a “Platinum Preview Party” event held April 23rd at the Scimens-Moss Home in Oakland (historically known as the Rubino House) with entertainment provided by the Conservatory’s own student musicians, the Michael Echaniz Trio and special guests.
“We’ve accomplished much over 20 years,” commented California Jazz Conservatory President and Dean of Instruction, Susan Muscarella. “We’ve established a firm foundation for our future, and now we’re thrilled to announce some very exciting plans and programs to positively impact the future of jazz.”
The most visible addition to the Conservatory’s future is the 5,550 square foot Fiddler Annex (named in honor of board member, Jerry Fiddler), located directly across the street from the Conservatory’s current Addison Street location. The Fiddler Annex will triple the size and scope of the Conservatory’s facilities and offerings, adding classrooms and performance, practice and office space, in addition to a new version of its popular cafè, with the original Jazzcaffè remaining open in the current Addison Street location.
The Fiddler Annex opening is scheduled to coincide with the Conservatory’s 20th anniversary celebrations, taking place during the third week in September, with a number of celebratory community events currently in the planning stages.
On the academic side, new developments include the establishment of a 2-year Associate of Arts in Jazz Studies degree program from the Conservatory. The Associate of Arts degree in Jazz Studies will be awarded to instrumental and vocal students who satisfactorily complete the Conservatory’s program of study of core music courses, electives and general studies courses.
In addition to the new Associate of Arts degree, a new concentration has been added to the Conservatory’s Bachelor of Music program: The North American Roots Music Concentration, focusing on examining the stylistic development and cultural origins of North American folkloric music (also known as “traditional music”), from nineteenth century work songs and spirituals to the present.
This new opportunity joins two existing concentrations, allowing Jazz Studies majors the option of specializing in one of three areas of particular interest: Brazilian Jazz, Audio Production (presented in conjunction with Berkeley’s famed Fantasy Studios) and the new North American Roots Music focus.
Also introduced at the April 23rd event was the Conservatory’s new performance group, the Blue/Green Ensembles. These new advanced-level opportunities are for instrumentalists and vocalists who demonstrate artistic leadership and academic excellence. They provide an opportunity to strengthen musicianship skills and develop artistic sensibility. Members of the Blue/Green Ensembles serve as jazz ambassadors, while earning their degree in Jazz Studies.
Wrapping up her re-cap of news at the anniversary celebration, Muscarella announced a three-year strategic partnership with another jazz icon, the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival and its Next Generation Jazz Festival, held annually in downtown Monterey, California, where the Conservatory previewed its new “100% JAZZ” marketing campaign.
The California Jazz Conservatory has announced it will be the host for the Next Generation Jazz Festival’s Opening Night Concert from 2017 through 2019.
In addition to gaining major visibility and multiple networking opportunities at the opening night concert and throughout the weekend, the California Jazz Conservatory awarded $500,000 worth of scholarships presented to students performing at the Next Generation Jazz Festival. Announcements of the scholarships drew cheers of appreciation from students and fans attending the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Festival, held March 31st through April 2nd in downtown Monterey.
“This is a vibrant weekend dedicated to the future of jazz and we are honored and excited to participate with the Monterey Jazz Festival in this long-term partnership in support of jazz education,” commented Muscarella in closing.
The California Jazz Conservatory is located at 2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, California, 94704. Their website is cjc.edu. Telephone number is 510/845-5373.
For Interviews and Tours of CJC:
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 cjc.edu. Telephone number is 510-845-5373.
Living Jazz is located at1728 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94612. The website is livingjazz.org. Telephone number is 510-858-5313.
Berkeley Jazz Education Icon Joins Legendary Jazz Presenter
As Sponsor of Next Generation Jazz Festival Opening Concert
Three-Year Agreement Includes Judges Concert Sponsorship,
$500,000 in Scholarships and Long Term Commitment to Jazz Education
March 29, 2017; Berkeley, California; Two California-based jazz institutions are joining hands in celebration of mutual anniversary milestones in 2017––The California Jazz Conservatory’s 20th and the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 60th––by doing what both do best: Supporting jazz education.
Announcing a three-year agreement, the California Jazz Conservatory (CJC) will be presenting partner of the Next Generation Jazz Festival (NGJF) Opening Night Concert for 2017––presented at Monterey’s historic Golden State Theater on Friday, March 31st––and for the 2018 and 2019 Next Generation Jazz Festival Opening Night Concerts.
In addition to presenting the popular concert by NGJF judges, the Conservatory has announced it will be awarding $500,000 in scholarships over the weekend to students performing at the Next Generation Jazz Festival, with winners to be determined by the Festival’s judges.
With 68 groups from nine states and 59 bands from fifteen counties spread across California, the Next Generation Jazz Festival ranks as one of the largest and most prestigious events of its kind. Three of the California Jazz Conservatory’s own groups will be finalists, including the California Jazz Conservatory’s “Blue Ensemble,” the CJC’s “Jazzschool Studio Band” and the CJC’s “Advanced High School Jazz Workshop.”
“We’re excited to cheer on our own groups this weekend and we wish all participants well! This is a vibrant weekend dedicated to the future of jazz and we are honored and excited to participate with the Monterey Jazz Festival in a partnership focused on jazz education,” commented Susan Muscarella, President and Dean of the California Jazz Conservatory.
“What a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary years,” added Colleen Bailey, Executive Director of the Monterey Jazz Festival. “We warmly welcome our jazz education colleagues from the California Jazz Conservatory, and we look forward to a long and rewarding partnership to the benefit of our student musicians and to the benefit of jazz.”
The California Jazz Conservatory is located at 2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, California, 94704. Their website is cjc.edu. Telephone number is 510/845-5373.
The Monterey Jazz Festival may be reached via mail (PO Box JAZZ, Monterey, CA 93942) and by phone at 831/373-3366. Their website is montereyjazzfestival.org.
About the California Jazz Conservatory Founded in 1997 in Berkeley, California, as the Jazzschool––a community music school with jazz classes, workshops and concerts, which continue to be a focus to this day––the institution introduced a new four-year degree program in 2009, offering a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies. At that time, the Jazzschool was incorporated into the newly renamed California Jazz Conservatory.
The institution was fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music in December of 2013, making the California Jazz Conservatory the only fully accredited, completely independent music conservatory in America totally devoted to the study and performance of jazz.
About the Monterey Jazz Festival The Monterey Jazz Festival, a leader in the jazz world since 1958, celebrates the legacy of jazz, expands its boundaries, and provides opportunities to experience jazz through the creative production of performances and educational programs.
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.
20-YEAR HISTORY OF THE JAZZSCHOOL/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:
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.”
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 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.
The first ever MEET ME DOWNTOWN DAY is Sunday March 20, 12noon to 5pm. Six Downtown Berkeley cultural venues will feature a variety of free activities to give you a taste of their amazing facilities and programing. And Downtown restaurants will offer food and drink specials for event visitors. www.meetmedowntown.info
Explore the stunning architecture and collection of the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive at its new location on Center Street, and watch short films on their spectacular outdoor screen. Experience the newly reopened The UC Theatre with drinks and snacks in its beautiful remodeled interior and be amazed by a demonstration of their Meyer Sound system. Then rediscover showcase Downtown venues with performance workshops at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, interactive bands at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, and live music at the California Jazz Conservatory. Plus you can start it off with yoga, a swim, or workout at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA all for free!
Collect MEET ME DOWNTOWN stickers at each of the art and music venues to unlock specials only available that day at participating restaurants. Collect ALL SIX stickers, and register at the Welcome kiosk at Bart Plaza to enter drawing for a Weekend Extravaganza including two nights at Hotel Shattuck Plaza, dinner at FIVE, and tickets to the Berkeley Rep, Freight and Salvage, and BAMPFA.
PLUS enter into a drawing for a free iPad mini by posting your best pictures of you, your friends, and family exploring Downtown Berkeley with #MeetMeDowntownBerkeley on the Meet Me Downtown Facebook page.
Visit www.meetmedowntown.info for schedule of events of the various venues and list of restaurant food and drink specials.
Jeff Denson is a musician on a mission. With three jazz ensembles, a full professorship at the California Jazz Conservatory and leadership of a nonprofit organization devoted to the enhancement of jazz in the Bay Area, the double bass master, vocalist and composer is among the busiest musical artists in Northern California. The Jeff Denson Quartet will perform Sunday at Silo’s in Napa.
Following a rich academic and artistic journey that took him around the country and the world, Denson accepted his appointment at the conservatory (then the Berkeley Jazzschool) in 2011 and moved to the Bay Area. On the phone from his East Bay home last week, he talked about the local jazz scene.
“I think there’s a fantastic scene in Northern California,” Denson said. “In many ways, it’s kind of an unsung jazz scene on the national and international scale. You have great musicians performing all throughout the Bay Area in large and small venues.
“If not many people know that it’s going on, though, it’s like if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there. Does it happen? Does it make a sound? That’s one thing I would personally like to help with in whatever small way I can, trumpet and boost people’s awareness of the wealth of music we have here.”
As a bass player, Denson is regarded as a master in both jazz and Western classical traditions. He has recorded 10 albums as leader or co-leader of an ensemble, and a dozen more as a sideman. He has a cherished relationship in performance and in the recording studio with Lee Konitz, the veteran alto saxophone icon.
Denson spoke enthusiastically about the work of the California Jazz Conservatory, where he serves as director of its outreach program. “It’s a major center for jazz education and the only conservatory solely based on the study of jazz in the U.S.,” he said. “Any time you have a city that has a major jazz program, there’s benefits to that.
“Musicians have a place they can go and a community develops around it. You have young musicians going to study with their peers. They go in and out. They leave the school and they have a peer group that they can communicate with artistically and focus on developing a career together.
“We’re nurturing these young artists who are trained and passionate, and they’re going to keep pumping out new blood and new inspiration in the music scene. We have that here in the Bay Area now. That’s a really important component to be aware of. They’re always going to be generating this new vibrant energy.”
“And not only do you have students that are going to be young blood injected into the scene,” Denson added, “you also have people that want to see what’s going on. They’re going to want to go out and check out what the professionals are doing in the city. This helps bolster the audience base. It’s a great cycle.”
Denson’s pride was on full display when he talked about the members of his Quartet. “I have a really great band,” he said, “and we’ve worked a lot together developing a connection, a musical connection. I think that really shows in the recording that we just made, and you’ll hear it in the live show. It’s a great group.”
The Jeff Denson Quartet is Denson on bass and vocals, Dan Zemelman on keyboards, drummer Alan Hall and Grammy-nominated Paul Hanson, whom Denson regards as the world’s premier improvising bassoonist. Their upcoming CD is “Concentric Circles.”
“I really do hope there’s a lot of people out for the show,” Denson said. “This is very unique music we’re performing. It’s challenging, but I think it’s very special. Of course I’m biased, but it’s special music that brings together influences of many things. The true thing about it is the heart behind it, the integrity and the strength of the melodies.”
Sunday, Feb. 21, 4 p.m. Presented by the Napa Valley Jazz Society (NVJS). $45, $25 for NVJS members. Silo’s, 530 Main St., Napa. 707-251-5833. nvjs.org/tickets.
See original article at napavalleyregister.com
It’s always nice when somebody gives your institution $500,000, particularly in the case of the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. The gift will cover nearly half the cost of renovating the ground floor of the brick building right across Addison Street, where the school will almost double its size with a new club-like performance venue, practice and rehearsal rooms and a second cafe.
“But what makes this gift so meaningful to me is that it came from two of our students,” says Susan Muscarella, the school’s founding president, referring to Kathi Rendon and John Kainlauri, the retired educational administrators who gave the seed money for the 6,000-square-foot project. It’s being designed by Berkeley architect Donn Logan, who designed the facility that opened in the old Kress Building in 2002. Rendon is a singer, Kainlauri plays trumpet, and they’re both longtime students at the Jazzschool, as the conservatory was called before it started its degree program in 2009 and as its vital community music program is still called.
“This would not be possible without Kathi and John,” says Muscarella, a pianist who in recent years has poured her considerable energies into building up the jazz conservatory and getting it accredited, as well as writing a doctoral dissertation through Portugal’s University of Évora on the modern jazz piano trio. She plans to start playing again when her plate isn’t as full.
Right now she’s jazzed about creating the much-needed new space, which will give the students a big band room to rehearse and provide a new 100-seat performance venue that, unlike the school’s multipurpose Hardymon Hall across the street, will be an enclosed space, with tables and chairs. It’s modeled conceptually on Minton’s Playhouse, the storied Harlem club where bebop was born in jam sessions encouraged by Henry Minton, a saxophonist who opened the hotspot in 1938 and later hired Thelonious Monk as house pianist.
“What Minton did was very similar to my personal mission — to support the leading jazz musicians of the day. He fed them, gave them a place to rehearse and perform, and really nurtured the bebop style.” The CJC’s new space, named for Rendon, “will be a club-like setting, but one where you won’t hear the milk being steamed.”
Muscarella hopes to get master metalsmith Russ Williams of Eclipse Design, who made the “Yardbird Suite” sculpture in Hardymon Hall — the notes of the Charlie Parker tune bear the names of sponsors — to create a similar mural for the new room using Monk’s classic “’Round Midnight.” A whole note will go for $50K, a sixteenth note for $100. The new facility, which is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016, will be acoustically enhanced with Meyer Sound panels visually enlivened by Deborah O’Grady’s photographs.
Why a second cafe?
“I’m Italian,” Muscarella says. “We’ve gotta have the food.”
BERKELEY, CA – California 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.