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Dr. Jeff Denson Named Dean of Instruction, California Jazz Conservatory


April 17, 2019; Berkeley, California; For the first time in its 20+ year history, the California Jazz Conservatory will name a new Dean of Instruction, succeeding CJC founder Susan Muscarella, who continues in her role as President of the renowned Berkeley-based jazz institution.Dr. Jeff Denson––the internationally acclaimed bassist, vocalist, composer and educator––will officially take on his new title and role as Dean of Instruction, California Jazz Conservatory, in August of 2019. In addition to his new duties as Dean, Denson will continue teaching at the Conservatory – a dual role he relishes and anticipates with enthusiasm.

“The California Jazz Conservatory is an exceptional institution, fostering the next generation of artists and educators––many on the cutting edge––performing, composing, teaching, and touring throughout the world,” Denson noted. “I am honored to be following in the footsteps of Dr. Susan Muscarella in this important role and I am excited at the prospect of working closely with CJC students, faculty, supporters and friends to grow the institution in the future.”

Muscarella added, “Jeff is one of the most talented artist-educators I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He has deep and long-established relationships with our students and fellow faculty; he is the perfect person to step into this important role – especially given that our artistic standards are so fully aligned.”

Ideas are a part of Denson’s quest to push his creative ability to its limits.“I’ve got so many ideas I want to try and I don’t want to put myself in any kind of box,” he says. “I am looking forward to bringing many of those ideas to fruition here at CJC,” Denson added.

Denson takes on his new role in the midst of a bountiful and consequential year for the prolific musician. 2019 witnesses the release of two new recording projects by Denson, along with his overseeing releases by other artists on his Ridgeway Records label.

In addition to taking on his new CJC position, Denson will maintain his busy schedule of tours and live performances, including a summer of educational and performance activities at CJC, where Denson will participate in a Piano Intensive headed by Susan Muscarella; a two-day Vibraphone and Bass Boot Camp, co-led by Denson and Philadelphia-based vibraphonist Tony Miceli; and a Guitar Intensive headed by Mimi Fox.

“This is a significant milestone in the history and future of the California Jazz Conservatory,” concluded Muscarella. “With Jeff taking on the duties of Dean, I will be able to focus more fully on bigger picture goals and objectives that will forward the Conservatory’s impact on the future of jazz.”

About Jeff Denson 
Born December 20, 1976 in Arlington, Virginia, Jeff Denson grew up in the Washington, DC area. He began playing alto saxophone in the third grade, switching in high school to bass and vocals. He studied at Virginia Commonwealth University and Northern Virginia Community College, transferring to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music to complete his degree. At Berklee, Denson co-founded the trio Minsarah, touring and recording with the band for fifteen years and becoming the accompanist for the legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz for over twelve years. In the meantime, Denson completed a master’s degree at Florida State University and a DMA at the University of California at San Diego, and recorded his first solo project in 2012’s Secret World.  Denson moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011 to become a professor at the California Jazz Conservatory. Since then, he has become a major player on the international scene and earned wide critical acclaim for his musicianship. DownBeat Magazine has cited Denson’s “considerable gifts as an improviser, interpreter and sonic trailblazer…” earning him a spot on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. Germany’s Jazz Podium Magazine noted that “Denson is breaking new ground (he is) one of the leading bassists of contemporary jazz.” Denson has released twelve albums as a leader or co-leader and performs in some 60 concerts annually.  He also spearheads Ridgeway Arts, a nonprofit designed to enhance and fortify the Bay Area scene with educational initiatives, concert presentations and recordings released on Denson’s Ridgeway Records label.

About the California Jazz Conservatory
The California Jazz Conservatory is the only independent, accredited music school in the country completely devoted to the study and performance of jazz. CJC offers a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and an Associate of Arts degree in Jazz Studies; the non-degree-granting Jazzschool at CJC offers over 100 classes and workshops on a quarterly basis; the “CJC Weekend” series presents concerts in two intimate venues featuring visiting artists, students and faculty. For more information about CJC, visit www.cjc.edu.

For Immediate Release / Contact Paul Fingerote
831.373.3343 /  
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