Fall President’s Message

Dear CAJ Members,

I am honored to begin my new position as President of the California Alliance for Jazz, having served for several years as Higher Education Representative. I am proud of our accomplishments to date, having worked alongside a skillful crew of service-minded jazz colleagues. In addition to thanking our departing board members for their volunteered service, I extend a personal thanks to our immediate Past President Lisa Butts, who superintended our organization with forward thinking and enthusiasm.

The CAJ mission statement, “to promote and facilitate the growth of jazz through education and performance of jazz music”, will guide our priorities, actions, and responsibilities. Our journey continues with a first-rate lineup of new and returning board members from Northern, Central, and Southern California: President-elect Patrick Langham, Vice-President Curtis Gaesser, Past-President Lisa Butts, Treasurer Barb Catlin, Secretary Dave Beatty, CBDA Representative Barb Shinaver, Vocal Representative Christine Tavares-Mocha, Higher Ed Representative Aaron Lington, High School Representative Keith Johnson, Middle School Representative John Reynolds, Elementary Representative Coralie Prince, Industry Representative Matt Johnson, Historian Jeff Tower, and our new Webmaster and Newsletter Editor, Nick Arocho.

We are sorry to report that Membership Chair, Ed Wolfe will be stepping down from his position. He has faithfully served our organization and will truly be missed. Thank you, Ed! Anyone interested in filling this CAJ Board of Directors position should contact me or one of the members of the CAJ leadership. 

This past spring, Lisa Butts and I traveled to Sacramento to participate in a Stand Up 4 Music advocacy event, encouraging members of the California State Senate and Assembly to promote two important bills; AB 2862, the CMEA sponsored bill for updating our Visual And Performing Arts Standards (VAPA) passed in the Assembly 68-0. Now it moves on to the Senate. SB 916, the Theatre and Dance credential bill (TADA), passed unanimously by the Senate, and moves to the Assembly.

The CAJ continues to manage California’s all-state jazz events and we partner with the California Band Directors Association (CBDA) and several other state organizations to organize future California All-State Music Education Conferences (CASMEC). In addition to presenting terrific all-state instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles at last year’s conference, we honored 2016 CAJ Hall of Fame Award recipients Frederick J. Berry, Madeline Eastman, and Perla L. Warren. The CAJ Online Festival and Clinic continues to provide opportunities for groups to submit performance videos for evaluation by leading jazz educators. We also have an impressive Resource Team standing by to advise CAJ members about a myriad of jazz skills. I invite you to log on to cajazz.org to stay up to date with our continued efforts to add value to your CAJ membership. We urge you to become more involved by motivating your students to audition for the all-state jazz ensembles, submitting articles for publication in our newsletter, keeping your dues current and encouraging non-member colleagues to join CAJ. In closing, I hope you will not hesitate to contact me, or any member of our leadership team, with ideas that may better serve California’s jazz students and educators.


Jeff Jarvis
President CAJ

Jeff Jarvis

By | September 8th, 2016|Categories: News|0 Comments

Phat Tracks: Exciting New Opportunity to Get Your Group’s Recordings on the Air

CAJ Member and Grammy Award-winning, Gordon Goodwin, would like to encourage California jazz educators to submit their group’s recordings to be played on his new radio show on KKJZ called, “Phat Tracks.” Gordon will feature a new recording each week of a middle school, high school, or college level jazz group. The recording doesn’t have to be professional level recording, but needs to be better than an iPhone recording. He adds that, “There is no criteria for ability – as long as the group is trying its best, we want to encourage them.” Combos are welcome too!

Please send your digital file and a description of the group/program to Gordon Goodwin: wingoodmp@gmail.com

Phat Tracks with Gordon Goodwin airs:
Friday 11:00pm – 12:00am
Saturday 12:00am – 1:00am
Saturday 12:00pm – 2:00pm

Here’s some more info on the show and Gordon Goodwin (taken from the KKJZ website):

Gordon Goodwin aspired to lead a big band from a time before he can even remember. His position at the forefront of 18-piece Big Phat Band, one of the most innovative and versatile collectives of the past thirty years, speaks reams about his seemingly limitless talents as an instrumentalist, composer, arranger, conductor and bandleader.

“Every time we make a record or play a show, we’re trying to tap into that fundamental, universal rhythm of big band music that seems to transcend the generations,” says Goodwin. “We’ll get middle school and high school kids coming to our shows and buying our CDs, we’ll get their parents, and we’ll get their grandparents. What other kind of music has that range of demographic appeal?”

Born in Wichita, Kansas, he moved with his family to California when he was only two. At a very early age, so his mother told him, he would tune in to The Mickey Mouse Club on TV and stand in the middle of his living room, pretending to conduct the orchestra. It seemed innocent enough, but it was just the beginning.

By the time he reached grade school, he was studying piano and saxophone – two instruments on which he excels to this day. While his classmates in junior high and high school were tuning in to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Motown and other iconic rock and pop artists of the ‘60s, Goodwin was charting his own big band compositions and grooving to icons of a different era: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich and Thad Jones.

By the early ‘70s, he was able to establish a stronger connection to the soundtrack of his generation via bands like Earth Wind & Fire, Blood Sweat & Tears and others that grafted elements of jazz and swing to the basic components of rock and pop. During high school, he played in youth orchestras that came out on top of just about every competition in the region, including the Monterey Jazz Festival

During his college years at Cal State Northridge, he spent his days studying orchestration and counterpoint, and his nights playing piano and sax in a rock band whose repertoire included hits by some of the aforementioned jazz-rock powerhouse bands. After college, he spent a few years during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s providing music for various aspects of the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. The gig led to opportunities to compose and arrange for TV series produced by Disney, Warner Brothers and others.

“I was pretty diversified throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s,” he says. “I’d do a TV show here, maybe some musical theater there, then I’d go play a bar mitzvah, then I’d go on the road and conduct for Johnny Mathis.”

Mathis, who once called Goodwin “a man of exquisite musical tastes,” was just the tip of the iceberg. Over the past couple decades, Goodwin has composed, arranged and/or conducted for a host of artists, including Ray Charles, Christina Aguilera, Natalie Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme and Quincy Jones. On the big screen, his scoring and orchestration can be heard on dozens of films, including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Get Smart, National Treasure, The Incredibles, Remember the Titans, Armageddon and Gone in 60 Seconds.

The gigs were steady, the work was interesting, the pay was good and the multiple Emmy awards during the period were a testament to the quality of Goodwin’s skills as a composer and arranger. But something was missing, he recalls.

“It was great, and yet it wasn’t me,” he says. “I started thinking, ‘Was this going to be my legacy? Was I going to be the guy who jumped around to all these gigs and had a little big-band project on the side? Or is big-band jazz the thing that I really believe in and really want to be committed to?’ I realized that it was, and I started to think that, ‘Maybe I have a little more road behind me than I have ahead of me, so maybe it’s time to start getting it done.’ And that was when I started to get serious about the Big Phat Band.”

Swingin’ for the Fences, the band’s debut recording released in 2000, featured guest artist Arturo Sandoval and Eddie Daniels. It made history as the first commercially available DVD-Audio title ever released and the first DVD-Audio title to receive two Grammy nominations.

XXL, the Big Phat Band’s follow up recording in 2003, featured a series of high-profile guest artists, including Mathis, Michael Brecker, vocalist Brian McKnight and Take 6. The album garnered three GRAMMY nominations: Best Large Ensemble Album, Best Instrumental Composition (“Hunting Wabbits”) and Best Instrumental Arrangement with Vocals (“Comes Love,” with a guest appearance by McKnight). XXL won the Surround Sound Award for Best Made for Surround Sound Title.

The 2008 release of The Phat Pack marked the band’s move to Immergent Records, but the band’s ability to attract impressive guest artists was not lost in the transition. The album featured performances by Dianne Reeves, David Sanborn, Eddie Daniels and Take 6. The Phat Band received a GRAMMY nomination and spent 31 weeks on the Billboard jazz charts.

Act Your Age, released in 2008, far outsold every other big band record in its path. Produced by acclaimed jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour and nominated for three GRAMMYs, the album featured a host of guests, including Patti Austin, Chick Corea, Dave Grusin and Art Tatum.

Goodwin and the Big Phat Band joined the Telarc label for the 2011 release of That’s How We Roll, which included 10 original compositions by Goodwin and a GRAMMY-winning rendition of the Gershwin classic, “Rhapsody in Blue. Special guests on Roll include Gerald Albright, Dave Koz, Marcus Miller and Take 6.

Next for Goodwin’s Big Phat Band was Life in the Bubble, released in May 2014. Often rollicking and upbeat, yet occasionally reserved and contemplative, Life in the Bubble explores the sense of isolation that has emerged in the digital age of immediate access to unlimited amounts information. The record garnered four GRAMMY nominations, and won the Grammy for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.”

Closing out 2015, Goodwin’s Big Phat Band released A Big Phat Christmas – Wrap This! a lively, innovative take on holiday classics.

“The musical philosophy of the Big Phat Band has, from the beginning, pushed back at these kinds of limits,” says Goodwin. “This is a band made up of a group of musicians with diverse interests, and wide skill sets, and we have always strove to break down barriers between musical styles.”

By | June 18th, 2016|Categories: News|0 Comments

Summer President’s Message

Dear CAJ members,

As I finish my term as President I am very excited about the growth of CAJ. I’d like to say farewell to the following who have served on the Board and thank them for all that they have done for CAJ: Chris Stevens-Past President, Sarah Owen-Newsletter and Website, Mike Galisatus- CMEA Rep., and Craig Bryant-Secretary. All of the members of our Board have done an amazing job and I am honored to have been able to serve with them.

Our membership continues to grow and we are instrumental in managing all of the jazz concerts and clinics at CASMEC as well as the All-State student jazz ensembles at the convention. Please encourage your students to audition for these wonderful All-State ensembles. All etudes have been posted on the www.cbda.org website and can be downloaded for free by directors and students.

Conductors for the 2017 All-State Honor groups will be:
Jr. High, Barb Catlin, Cal Tech and Pomona College
High School, George Stone Cuesta College
Vocal, Roger Treece, Composer, Arranger, Producer and Singer

CAJ is also proud to be a member of the Stand Up 4 Music Coalition which was instrumental in getting AB 2862 through the Assembly and we are hoping this Bill to update the Visual and Performing Arts Standards in California will be passed very soon. Through advocacy and visits to the State capital I hope that CAJ’s voices will be heard to make sure that Jazz remains a vital part of a good education in California. Please go to www.standup4music.org and register your email address so that you can be notified when music education issues come to the fore in our legislature. Also check out www.broaderminded.org to get info on how music increases brain function and helps our students to do better in school and society.

CAJ is also working to put together an opportunity for your ensembles to have live or recorded clinics. Directors can select specific instrumental clinics or clinics on styles on which their groups need work, and get a one on one clinic from some of the best players and or teachers in the field. Look for that to come online by mid-August.

Please visit our website at www.cajazz.org and check out the educator resources available to you there as well as the Board page to see how many great educators from our state are working together to promote Jazz in California. Finally, join our organization. We are shaping the course of Jazz Education in California and we need your input and your help.


Lisa Butts
President CAJ

By | June 18th, 2016|Categories: News|0 Comments

Drum Talk: Summer Gear Check

by Drummer and Music Educator, Matt Johnson

Summer is here and as we wrap up the school year, I can expect a few phone calls from colleagues saying “My school’s drums sound dead.” Then asking, “Is there anything I can do?” Or, “My boosters have allocated funds for a few new cymbals. What should I buy?” To which I usually reply, “the answer to that question is an entire clinic unto itself.” Here’s why:

What to fix or replace depends on the current status of your particular drum kit. Also, the range of musical situations that your kit will be used will dictate your specific sound goal(s). At which point, achieving those goals means choosing the appropriate drum, drumhead and/or cymbal combination for your needs. And since drums, and especially cymbals, come in a range of sizes and “flavors”, the appropriate (or desired) sound can often be a matter of personal taste. Or, at least, span a broad spectrum of sonic choices. All of that said, there is a “safe range” of both timbre and potential volume for a drum set that is appropriate for middle and high school jazz ensembles – both small and large.

But here comes the challenge of trying to offer universal help in one article. There is an endless amount of information, as well as range of opinions on every drumhead, bass drum pedal, washer and wing-nut that goes into a drum set. So I’m going to just give you a few of my own thoughts on the subject, then summarize them in a Drum Set reference sheet at the bottom of this article.


There are two major factors that make up the difference between an inexpensive drum kit and an expensive one ­­–– 1) the type of wood that the shells are made of, and 2) the “weight” of the hardware (stands). All major drum manufactures offer a range of product lines from “Entry-level” and “Student”, to “Pro”, “Stage” or “Tour” models, with a price-point for each. Since any of the above level of kits will be fine for your purposes, I suggest saving money witgh a less expensive “shell pack” and spending more on good stands and cymbals. Keep reading.

Also, I don’t know when it happened, but 22” (diameter) x 18” (depth) somehow became the standard bass drum size for most drum manufactures (especially kits at the lower end price-point). Which in my opinion completely overshoots the sonic needs for any acoustic school ensemble. It’s also why you’re forced to shove a full size pillow or blanket inside it – which makes it look like you added a front-loading washing machine to your band. Not to mention, all of that laundry cancels the low frequencies of the drum and leaves you with only the loud attack sound the beater makes on the head.

A bass drum should have a low, warm and resonate sound that doesn’t overwhelm the band (it also helps if your young drummer gets professional instruction on how to play with a full dynamic range on the BD – not just loud. But I digress). Which is why I always recommend buying a 20” bass drum with a 16” depth. This is an appropriate and versatile size for school jazz band. Start with a low-ish tuning and add no more than a beach towel’s worth of muffling. This will give you a good low frequency without all the unwanted volume. Tune it higher and you will put it in a nice sonic range for your combo (Did I mention that there is an entire clinic’s worth of info on each aspect of the drum set?).

Cymbal Stands:

A full set of “lightweight” hardware will take a beating (no pun intended) from the day-to-day demands of a school kit. Conversely, a full set of “heavy” stands is overkill and a wasted expense. Buy a “Double-Braced Boom” style cymbal stand (a common description) for your ride cymbal and “Single-Braced” stands (boom or straight) for your crash cymbals.


The constant, repetitive motion applied to the Hi-Hat pedal is what will eventually cause it to fail. I recommend investing in a medium to heavyweight Hi-Hat stand.

Bass Drum Pedal:

Again, a clinic’s worth of info can be opined about the bass drum pedal (the invention of which, originally intended for orchestral work, led to the development of the modern drum set. What began as an odd and unwieldy looking collection of percussion instruments, to early observers, the drum set or “kit” was referred to by some as a “contraption” ­­–– later shortened to “Traps.” Anyone remember that moniker?), so don’t get me started. Invest in a mid-line/medium-priced bass drum pedal from any major drum manufacture. Most top-of-the-line pedals are over-engineered and too expensive.


Hearing a cymbal Rep describe his or her product line is like listening to a sommelier in a fancy restaurant describe the full depth and breath of his/her wine list. Cymbals are also very expensive which is why a “cymbal pack” from an online dealer seems attractive because it’s cheaper and less complicated – like deciding to just go with the house red wine. But disappointments can result from both choices.

I’ve never purchased a cymbal online – or suit for that matter – although, some do. And like what passes for a standard two-piece men’s suit, there can be a very broad range of craftsmanship that goes into making a cymbal. In both cases, the more man-hours invested, the higher the price. And like drums, all of the major cymbal manufactures offer entry-level products (the aforementioned “cymbal pack”), as well as a wide range of very expensive, completely handmade cymbals, and everything in between.

You could easily spend twice the money on cymbals, as you would on a reasonably priced drum set. So like any important investment, I recommend you seek out a professional to assist in your cymbal purchase. Beyond the sales clerk on duty, a trusted professional drummer, who can accompany you to your local music store (or drum shop, if you’re lucky enough to have one near you) and help you select cymbals (either a new set or match something new to your existing set). Your cymbals should share harmonious overtones and be the appropriate size and weight for your needs. In the meantime, I have listed my recommendations to what I believe are versatile sizes and weights for school jazz band in the link below.


All drumhead manufactures buy their Mylar, in the identical mils (thickness), from the same company. The difference in their final products is a result of them using different mil combinations, coating formulas and the aluminum collar that is fused to the Mylar which all vary from company to company. A coated finish for top heads is a versatile choice and produces a nice warm tone for jazz. My drumhead recommendations appear in the link below.


Here’s my drumstick tip for band directors: Buy wood-tip sticks, but regularly check your students’ sticks for chipped or splintered tips. Once there’s a chip, buy new sticks. A new, crisp tip (or bead) on the stick will produce a much more defined attack on the ride cymbal. Which is critical when trying to convey a sense of drive and intensity to your band, and hopefully, the listening audience – especially at a low volume.

Drum Set Recommendations


  • Major Brands: DW, Gretsch, Ludwig, Mapex, Tama, Yamaha
  • Standard 4 or 5-piece kit
  • 20” (x 14” or 16” deep) bass drum
  • 10” and/or 12” mounted toms (standard depth)
  • 14” x 14” floor tom
  • 14” x 5” snare drum


  • 1, Double-braced “boom” style cymbal stand
  • 2 or 3, Single-braced “boom” or “straight” style cymbal stands
  • 1, Medium to heavy duty Hi-Hat stand
  • 1, Single-braced snare stand
  • 1, Mid-level bass drum pedal
  • 1, Double-braced throne


  • Major Brands: Zildjian, Paiste, Sabian
  • 20”, 21” or 22” Medium Ride
  • 16” Medium Crash
  • 17” Medium to Heavy Crash
  • 18” Thin Crash


  • 20” or 22” China (or Swish) with rivets
  • 20” Flat Ride (excellent for combo and vocal jazz)
  • 12” Splash
  • FX Crash


  • Major Brands: Aquarian, Remo, Evans
  • Toms: Single-ply Coated on top/Single-ply clear on bottom
  • Snare: Double-Ply Coated on top/Single-ply (thin) clear “snare” head on bottom
  • Bass Drum: Double-Ply clear on batter side/Double-ply smooth or coated on resonant (front) side – with or without a 4”- 6” port (hole).
  • Note: Bass Drum should have minimal muffling – nothing larger than a beach towel.


  • Brands: Vic Firth, Pro-Mark, Vater
  • Recommended Sizes
  • 7A (Vic Firth AJ3 or 8D), 5A (Vic Firth 5A, 5A Extreme), 5B.

Matt Johnson is a freelance studio drummer in his 24rd year as Adjunct Instructor of Drum Set at Fullerton College where he oversees the Nation’s largest all-digital Drum Set Lab. He is also currently touring North America in “See Jane Sing” staring Golden Globe and three-time Emmy Award-winning actress, Jane Lynch. To connect with Matt, go to www.DrummerMattJohnson.com


By | June 12th, 2016|Categories: News|0 Comments

UNT Vocal Jazz Educator Seminar

For the first time, the 2016 UNT Vocal Jazz Summer Workshop will be preceded by a pre-workshop “Vocal Jazz Educator Seminar” on Friday and Saturday, June 17 – 18, 2016. It will be led by UNT Director of Vocal Jazz Jennifer Barnes and phenomenal award-winning high school educator, Curtis Gaesser (Folsom High School, Folsom, CA) on the campus of the University of North Texas. The content will be packed full of content relevant to high school and college-level teachers who either are already working with students on vocal jazz or are thinking about starting to explore vocal jazz with their students: rhythm sections, repertoire, sound reinforcement, rehearsal techniques, auditions, warm-ups, etc., and everyone will come away with materials to take home with them and use in their teaching immediately. Attendees will also have the option of staying for the 5-day workshop at the conclusion of the seminar for even MORE immersion in all things vocal jazz. We’re so excited to offer this, and will have more details coming in mid-January, so stay tuned, but in the meantime, SAVE THE DATE!

Further details and registration form will be available on the UNT Jazz Website by mid-January 2016!

By | January 17th, 2016|Categories: News|0 Comments

Winter 2015 President’s Message

The entire Board of the California Alliance for Jazz is completing a wonderful year of supporting jazz. The Board is very excited about our past year helping to keep jazz at the forefront of music education in California. We have been working hard to make sure that jazz has an impact on our state. Our Board continues to select and oversee the clinics and jazz performances at CASMEC to provide the best possible experience for the educators of our state. We sponsor the All-State Vocal and instrumental ensembles made up of the best musicians in the state and we work hard to ensure the top conductors in the nation are in front of those groups. This year’s conductors slate will be Justin Padilla from Oak Middle School, Kate Reid from the University of Miami, and Steve Roach, Director of Jazz Studies from Sacramento State. We are proud to be able to offer these wonderful conductors to the jazz students of the state and we would like to thank the members of CBDA, SCVA and ACDA for supporting us in our efforts.

We have a lot of things planned for the coming year, besides the annual CASMEC conference, our Jazz Championships festival will again offer wonderful feedback to all the groups attending as well as sending plaques. We are also working to provide custom tailored feedback experience to groups that take advantage of our virtual clinic experience to be rolled out soon. It’s a great time to become a member of CAJ. Please visit our website at www.cajazz.org and join us in helping to ensure our uniquely American art form, jazz, is provided for all students in our state.


Lisa Butts
CAJ President

By | December 2nd, 2015|Categories: News|0 Comments

Competitive Jazz Festivals – Pros, Cons, and Learning Strategies

“The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.” – Martina Navratilova, Tennis Star

A prevailing tendency in American jazz programs is competing against other ensembles at educational festivals, despite the quiet controversy that surrounds this activity. Since creativity is so subjective, many find it futile to present it in a competitive domain. As you admire Michelangelo’s David and Rodin’s The Thinker, imagine choosing which sculpture is better. On the other hand, our lives have been forever changed by many great works of art and inventions that won competitions, and by others that did not. The fact of the matter is this; competition can be a motivator. It has pervaded every corner of our society as we compete for jobs, promotions, contracts and accounts. But regardless of the results, we must maintain a realistic impression of our self-worth. This also applies to how we run our school jazz programs. Given the attention we get from administrators for winning, it is understandable that most directors want to decorate their band rooms with trophies.

Educational jazz festival participation provides valuable insights about your band’s progress, but only if you and your students maintain a balanced perspective about competition. Sports performance consultant, Dr. Alan Goldberg, has this to say about student perspective: “They don’t have any!” Most high school students have yet to develop objectivity about big games or important performances; their perception of success and failure is skewed by what happens in the moment, with little understanding of the “big picture”. Let’s explore the experience from several viewpoints:

The Festival Coordinator

The quality of an educational jazz festival is contingent upon the vetting and hiring of experienced adjudicators, which need to be booked far in advance. So, the most important task for the festival coordinator is to evaluate the evaluators! First of all, great musicians do not always make great clinicians. A quality adjudicator is open-minded, has a thorough understanding of a wide variety of musical styles, and a realistic idea of what to expect from students at various ages and ability levels. Make sure the festival host has engaged the services of a clinician who will humanize the evaluation process by identifying positive aspects of the performance and making suggestions for improvement.

After three decades of adjudicating jazz festivals, I notice that developing jazz musicians still make the same mistakes, and clinicians still offer the same comments on their recordings and ratings sheets. This phenomenon will continue because secondary school students are in the midst of a learning process. By way of a math analogy, these students are adding and subtracting. If the adjudicator is expecting calculus, the fault lies with the festival coordinator for hiring someone unfamiliar with the abilities of developing musicians.

The Director

While competitive jazz festivals are certainly worthwhile, they should not be the sole reason our programs exist. Some educators teach their students to play jazz music. Others may think they are teaching the art form, but they are actually showing their students how to win contests. This is similar to academic instructors who are tasked with teaching students how to take standardized tests.

Jazz festivals are a microcosm of life. The competitive aspect provides us with a heightened impetus to improve our skills. But with thoughtful mental preparedness, your band members can feel good about an excellent festival performance whether they win or not. Inform your students that adjudicators’ comments or rankings are subjective. At one festival, the judges may praise you for programming modern, innovative charts – and you win. But when you perform the identical music at the next festival, an adjudicator deducts programming points because you didn’t include a Basie-style chart. This brings us to another oddity of music festivals – the point score. What makes a band score one-third of a point lower than the winning band? Most judges mentally rank the bands, and then configure the points in each category to support their opinions.

If a competitive mindset dominates your jazz program, pedagogic goals designed to foster individual and collective success can give way to strategies designed to avoid failure. A good example would be a director who instructs his student to play a memorized or written solo so the judges won’t hear wrong notes. This tactic is well known to adjudicators, most of who assign higher ratings in the solo category for improvised solos – even if we hear a few major 7ths on dominant chords.

Hyper-competitive programs are not always consciously planned, but rather they evolve over time. After a few festival wins, it is easy to start organizing the band’s activities so as to fabricate success. But when directors participate in smaller festivals they know they can win, or university ensembles compete against community college groups, these hollow victories create a skewed sense of accomplishment. A rude awakening awaits these individuals if they transition to the unprotected environment of the professional world.

The Students

In 2004, an upstate New York music educator spoke at a panel discussion about competition in music. He revealed some interesting facts about a study he conducted the previous year:

School ‘A’ had a director who meticulously prepared his jazz band for three competitive jazz festivals each year. The students worked tirelessly on their music, participated in required and ad hoc sectional rehearsals. No stone was left unturned in their preparation to compete. They rarely returned home with anything but first place trophies.

School ‘B’ had a director who taught his students about jazz. The jazz band experience included instruction in jazz theory, improvisation, jazz history and critical listening. The band usually placed at competitive jazz festivals, but rarely won.

In the subsequent two years, seven students from these two schools applied to collegiate jazz studies programs. Six were accepted and four of them were offered scholarships. They were all from School ‘B’. The micro goal of winning trophies was achieved by School ‘A’, while the macro goal of developing functioning musicians was not.

So where do we go from here? If your ensemble presents a great performance at a competitive festival, but takes second place, your students should still feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Whether they can feel good about themselves without a first place trophy depends on the extent to which you have created an environment with well-placed priorities that lead to better musicianship. And when you win, celebrate the experience knowing that you and your students have really learned about the art form of jazz, thus giving that award some genuine meaning.

If you remain concerned that your administrators will only respond to the trophies you accumulate, here is a way to justify the true value of your jazz program: Compile a “Where are they now?” list of former students who have succeeded in their respective collegiate jazz programs, teaching positions, and professional performance activities. Share your findings with your administrator, who is probably expected to provide his/her superiors with evidence of student learning outcomes.


Jeff Jarvis

President Elect/Higher Ed Rep


By | November 23rd, 2015|Categories: News, Pedagogy|0 Comments

Register Now for CASMEC 2016!

Please join us for the 2016 California All-State Music Educator’s Conference at the beautiful San Jose Fairmont and Convention Center in San Jose, CA.

Jazz clinics and performances for CASMEC will include:

  • Jazz Arranging for ALL Levels – Joe Mazzaferro
  • Jazz Band Is Not Just Another Large Ensemble: Keeping Improvisation and Creativity the Focus of Rehearsals – Dr. Keith Kelly
  • Lessons from the Masters: Using Recordings to Teach Students About Improvisation – Patrick Langham
  • Understanding the Modern Rhythm Section – Dr. Anthony Fesmire
  • Unison Methodologies Applied to Modern Jazz Styles: A Single Point of Reference – Richard J. Frank
  • New Music Reading Session – Dan Bryan and Lisa Butts
  • Vocal Jazz Ensemble: Tone and Style – Kate Reid

Our 2016 All-State Jazz Honor Groups directors are:

  • JHS Band – Justin Padilla, Oak Middle School
  • HS Band – Steve Roach, Sacramento State
  • HS Vocal – Kate Reid, University of Miami

For more information about All-State Jazz auditions go to cbda.org. Audition deadline is December 1st.

For 2016 hotel information, please click HERE.

Click on the “Register Now” link below to register for CASMEC 2016

Registering through CAJ helps support jazz education and advocacy in California!



By | September 28th, 2015|Categories: CASMEC 2016, Honor Groups, News|0 Comments

California Jazz Festivals

Festival NameDate 2015-2016Website

Amador Valley Campana Jazz Festival February 6, 2016 http://www.amadormusic.org
Armijo Review Concert/Jazz Louise Jacob 707-438-3307
Aztec Jazz Festival March 12, 2016 http://www.ehseu.org/events/aztec-jazz-festival/
CMEA Jazz Festival – Hanford High School April 21 – 22, 2016 hwband@mac.com
College of San Mateo Jazz Festival November 20, 2015 http://collegeofsanmateo.edu/music/jazzfestival.asp
Columbia Jazz Festival Jazz Bands February 5 – 6, 2016 http://columbia.yosemite.edu/jazz/default.aspx
Columbia Jazz Festival Jazz Choirs March 4 – 5, 2016 http://columbia.yosemite.edu/jazz/default.aspx
Delta College Jazz Festival December 5, 2015 http://www.deltacollege.edu/div/finearts/jazzfest/index.htm
Dos Pueblos High School Jazz Festival March 5, 2016 http://dphsmusic.org/
El Cerrito Jazz Festival February 6, 2016 http://www.echsbands.com/festival
Encinal Band Review/Concert May 21, 2016 Armen Phelps, 510-748-4023
Folsom Jazz Festival January 23, 2016 http://www.folsommusic.org
Fullerton College Jazz Festival April 22 – 23, 2016 http://jazzfestival.fullcoll.edu/
Irvine High Jazz Festival March 19, 2016 http://www.vimb.org
Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival April 9-10, 2016 http://www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2011/NGJF
Moorpark High School Jazz Festival http://www.moorparkmusic.org/
Mt. San Antonio College Jazz Festival May 7, 2016 Jeff Ellwood, jellwood@earthlink.net
NCBA Large Ensemble/Jazz Festival April 16, 2016 Rowland Nielsen, 707-367-2414
NCBA Large Ensemble/Jazz Festival April 23, 2016 Rowland Nielsen, 707-367-2414
Newbury Park High School Jazz Festival http://nphsband.org/ensembles/jazzfestival.shtml
Riverside City College Jazz Festival May 13 – 14, 2016 http://rccjazz.com/jazzfestival.html
Sacramento State Jazz Festival December 12, 2015 http://www.csus.edu/music/jazz/fest.html
San Joaquin Valley Jazz Festival February 27 – 28, 2016 http://www.sjvjf.net/
Santa Barbara High School Jazz Festival http://sbhsbands.org/
Santa Cruz Jazz Festival March 18 – 19, 2016 http://scjf.org/
South Hills Jazz Festival March 12, 2016 http://shhsband.com
Southern California Vocal Jazz Festival http://www.scvachoral.org/
Traditional Jazz Youth Band Festival February 13, 2016 http://www.sacjazz.org/youthfestival/
Vallejo Review Concert/Jazz May 14, 2016 Ken Smith, 707-556-5700
Western States Jazz Festival February 26 – 27, 2016 http://uhrb.org
Westlake High School Jazz Festival http://whsband.org/festivals
Woodcreek Jazz Festival February 26 – 27, 2016 http://www.whsbandboosters.com/Festivals.php
By | September 16th, 2015|Categories: News|0 Comments

Fall 2015 President’s Message

Dear Members,

I have completed my first year as President and am excited about some new things that our Board has planned for our members this year. We are working to put in place a clinic system that you can use online to get help for your groups. You will be able to log in and select your clinician and then have a live session with them listening to and giving help to your students. You will be able to choose a clinician by instrument or by style and they will work with your group to help them achieve the sound and style that you are looking for.

We have already selected clinics and clinicians to present at the 2016 CASMEC in San Jose and we have posted the Etudes for the All-State HS Band and Choir and the Jr. High Band. Because of a few issues with the online upload of auditions, jazz will still be the only groups that are allowed to use the new system. We want to encourage more participation in our All-State vocal jazz ensemble. Kate Reid from the University of Miami will be the conductor and she is one of the most sought after vocal jazz conductors in the world. Conducting our Jr. High Jazz Band will be Justin Padilla from Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos and our High School Jazz Ensemble will be conducted by Steve Roach Director of Jazz Studies at Sacramento State University.

We are also completing our list of finalists for the CAJ Hall of Fame, honoring those jazz educators who have made the most impact in Jazz Education in our state. Finally, we are working to make our State Jazz Championships an even better festival. This year we had the most groups ever entered into the Championships. We are working to streamline the process and improve it to ensure that all groups that enter will get the best experience possible.

It’s a great time to be a member of CAJ. We have a wonderfully talented and hard working Board that works very hard to improve jazz education in our state and provide opportunities to perform jazz on the highest levels. We hope that you will continue as members and also invite your fellow teachers to join us. Go to www.cajazz.org to join or renew your membership.

GO Jazz!!


By | September 16th, 2015|Categories: News|0 Comments