October 05, 2023 | CJC News




Nick Phillips, new President of the California Jazz Conservatory
Susan Muscarella, Founding President Emeritus of the California Jazz Conservatory

October 5, 2023; Berkeley, California; The California Jazz Conservatory (CJC) has announced the appointment of a jazz industry veteran – producer, educator, performer, Nick Phillips – to the position of President of CJC. Phillips will assume the role on October 23, 2023, as only the second president to serve in that position since the CJC was founded in 1997. Phillips will succeed CJC Founding President Emeritus, Susan Muscarella, who is returning to teaching, her lifelong passion and the inspiration for her founding the school more than a quarter of a century ago.

Phillips noted, “Under Susan Muscarella’s visionary leadership, the CJC has established – like the jazz genre itself – a tradition of creativity and innovation. I’m honored to have been chosen to work with the CJC staff, artist-educator faculty, the board of directors, donors, and alumni to build on the rock solid foundation established by Susan, moving us into the next phase of CJC’s growth and development as a leader in jazz education.”

Added Muscarella, “The years I spent founding and serving as President of the California Jazz Conservatory have been the best 26 years of my life! Passing the baton on to a next president is bittersweet, but I look forward to going back to my greatest passion, teaching. I send my heartfelt congratulations to our next leader, Nick Phillips, who is ‘everything jazz.’ I am confident in his ability to take the CJC – the only school in the country solely devoted to America’s original art form – to the next level. Jazz has held a place at the top throughout Nick’s entire life – Nick and the California Jazz Conservatory could not be a better fit. On behalf of the CJC ‘family,’ I am proud to call him President Phillips.”

Nick Phillips
Nick Phillips has a long and exemplary career in the world of jazz. He is a Grammy-recognized record producer who has produced hundreds of jazz-related projects, specializing in compilations and reissues, working with a who’s who of past and present jazz all-stars.

Phillips is also a highly regarded, in-demand educator, teaching courses and/or workshops at multiple educational institutions, including University of the Pacific, the University of South Florida, Loyola University, and the California Jazz Conservatory.

A critically-acclaimed jazz trumpet player in his own right, Nick Phillips has released two of his own albums: Moment to Moment (co-led with Cava Menzies), 2014; and Haiku, (co-led with Jenny Maybee), 2016. Both landed on the Billboard Jazz and Billboard Traditional Jazz charts. His combined knowledge of the performance and the business side of jazz (gained, most notably, from his three decades in management with Concord Records) has made Phillips a popular resource as a jazz consultant and coach for a long list of award-winning artists.

A full biography of Nick Phillips is linked here.

Accolades from the Jazz Community
According to Tyler Johnston, former CJC Board Chairman who led the search committee for Muscarella’s successor, “This was an extensive, national search for a leader who would follow our esteemed founder, Susan Muscarella. Our students, faculty and staff will be the immediate beneficiaries of Nick’s contagious enthusiasm for all things jazz.“

CJC Board Chair Gordy Brooks added, “With his exceptional reputation and standing in the jazz community, we are thrilled to have Nick become the next President of the CJC. At the same time, we celebrate Susan Muscarella and her superlative leadership at the helm for the last 25+ years.”

The “exceptional reputation and standing” referred to by Brooks in his statement was echoed in accolades for the appointment from around the jazz community:

“Nick Phillips! Such a great match with CJC! I have had the honor of working with Nick for the past three decades. Nick is one of the most diligent, knowledgeable, personable and thoughtful people in the jazz world. He will be a terrific asset to this already terrific organization!”

– Frank Alkyer, Editor and Publisher, DownBeat Magazine

“It goes without saying, the amazing contribution Susan Muscarella has made to jazz, jazz education and to the cultural climate of the Bay Area. I am pleased to hear that Nick Phillips is taking over the helm at CJC and I’m certain the school will benefit immensely from his musical knowledge, industry knowledge and commitment to education. I’m excited to see the school flourish with new possibilities and opportunities under Nick’s leadership.”

– Terri Lynn Carrington, Grammy-winning drummer, composer, educator

“Under the direction of Susan Muscarella, CJC has developed into an important player in the jazz ecosystem. The Monterey Jazz Festival congratulates CJC on the appointment of Nick Phillips and looks forward to the continuation of our vibrant relationship.”

– Colleen Bailey, CEO, Monterey Jazz Festival

“I am very pleased to learn that my friend and long-time colleague, Nick Phillips, has been appointed president of the prestigious California Jazz Conservatory. Nick is one of the most dedicated and talented music industry executives I have known during my career. We worked together on numerous recording productions over the past thirty years, served together on committees for the Grammy organization, and became good friends along the way. I can’t think of anyone better qualified to lead the Conservatory into the future. Congratulations Nick!”

– Gary Burton, Grammy-winning jazz musician and educator

“Who would have thought that when I first started attending The Jazzschool as a student twenty-six years ago, above the café on Shattuck Avenue, that not only would it still be here, but it would have grown to become a leader in jazz education, an inspiration to young people, and a place for ‘older’ people to get back into, or keep into, their instruments or voice. All due to Susan Muscarella’s dream, desire, and dedication. I look forward to The California Jazz Conservatory continuing to be a musical and jazz force for generations to come. Thank you, Susan, and welcome Nick!”

– Danny Scher, Founding Member Jazzschool Board, Founder of Dansun Productions, formerly VP Bill Graham Productions, jazz drummer

“Having watched the continued evolution and development of the Jazzschool under Susan’s tutelage from its inception, we are excited to witness the successful transition and growth under its new President. Nick Phillips’ leadership and legacy in the jazz community is the perfect anchor for CJC, as Susan Muscarella sails on, returning to her lifelong passion of teaching.”

– Lyz Luke, Executive Director, and Stacey Hoffman, Founder, of Living Jazz
About the California Jazz Conservatory
The California Jazz Conservatory (CJC) is the only private music conservatory in the country solely devoted to the study and performance of our country’s treasured African American art form, jazz, and related styles of music.

Founded as The Jazzschool in 1997, the school’s first iteration was located in the building known Berkeley-wide as “The Yellow House” on Shattuck Avenue, home at the time to La Note Restaurant.

A success from the outset, The Jazzschool soon outgrew its original home and moved into one of its two current locations on Addison Street. The school continued to operate as The Jazzschool until 2013, when accreditation was gained and the degree program was launched under the new umbrella, the California Jazz Conservatory.

Today, the CJC teaches jazz to everyone from middle school students picking up an instrument for the first time, to candidates for Bachelor of Music and Associate of Arts degrees in Jazz Studies. CJC will be launching a new degree program – Master of Music in Jazz Studies: A Master’s Degree for the 21st Century Composer-Performer – slated to debut in 2025.

Applications for all CJC degree programs are available on the CJC website (cjc.edu).

The Jazzschool continues to operate as CJC’s community music education program, offering over 100 classes and workshops every quarter, both online and in-person, attracting 350 to 400 students each quarter to its educational offerings.

The CJC is also widely recognized as a home for jazz performance, with local, regional, national and international artists presented in its much-lauded Rendon Hall performance venue (located at 2040 Addison) and in its downstairs, jazz club-like venue, Hardymon Hall (located at 2087 Addison). More information about The Jazzschool is available on the CJC website (jazzschool.cjc.edu).

For information about concert tickets, workshop registration, and the California Jazz Conservatory please visit the CJC website (cjc.edu). Information is also available by phone (510.845.5373); at the Conservatory’s two Berkeley locations, 2087 and 2040 Addison Street; or by contacting paul@cjc.edu.


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