California Alliance for Jazz
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Vice President Matt Harris

Past President
President Elect
Jeff Jarvis
Craig Bryant
Treasurer/Membership Barb Catlin
ACDA Rep Christine Guter
Vocal Rep Christine Tavares-Mocha
 Mike Galisatus
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Register for CASMEC

Click HERE!

Jeff Tower
Higher Ed Rep Jeff Jarvis
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High School Rep Curtis Gaesser
Middle School Rep 
Justin Padilla
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Jazz Educator's Network

Elementary Rep Coralie Prince
Industry Rep Matt Johnson
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Newsletter Editor
  Sarah Owen
Ed Wolfe
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Register for CASMEC

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California Alliance for Jazz
Winter Newsletter
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CAJ President's Letter 


Dear Members,


The Board of the California Alliance for Jazz is looking forward to a wonderful CASMEC this year, and we are excited to have been instrumental in providing all of the jazz sessions for the 2015 CASMEC. Our Board works hard to make sure that the clinics benefit all of our members and gives them resources to use to be better educators. We have 7 sessions that we hope will provide you with great information on teaching, performing, and playing jazz. We have 3 clinics that will focus on vocal jazz:

  • Choices in Vocal Jazz Ensemble Directing by Jennifer Barnes.  
  • Circle Singing: A Method for developing Musical Fluency by Roger Treece.
  • Making the Switch: Vocal Jazz for Classical Choral Conductors by Matt Falker and Dr. Keith Pedersen.

We have 4 terrific clinics scheduled for instrumental teachers: 
  • Jazz Band Rehearsal Techniques for New Teachers by John Maltester. 
  • Top Ten Secrets for Better Jazz Solos hosted by Mike Dana.
  • Big Band Style: Getting the Most Out of Your Horn Section hosted by Staff Sergeant Isaac Lamar and the USAF Commanders Jazz Band. 
  • Now What? Tips and Strategies for a Successful Middle School Jazz Band by Mike Kamuf. 

CAJ is the Premier organization for jazz education in California. We provide the etudes for the All-State High School Vocal and Band Ensembles, as well as the Jr. High All-State Band. We also select the students who submit auditions for those groups. In addition, we provide scholarships to one student from each of those ensembles. We feel that our All-State Ensembles are the best in the country. We are proud to be able to support those students and promote jazz as our true American Art form.


CAJ will sponsor a Hall of Fame social at 6:15 pm on Friday, Feb. 20th (CASMEC) in the lobby of Saroyan Theater before the All-State Jazz concert. We will recognize the following outstanding educators for their contributions to jazz throughout their careers: Gary Foster, Jerrold Moore, Don Shelton, Dr. Herb Wong in memoriam, and Frank Sumares in memoriam. You are invited to attend the social and take part in our ceremony to honor these great jazz educators. By the way, the all-state jazz directors for this year are:

  • Jennifer Barnes, All-State Jazz Choir
  • John Daversa, All-State High School Jazz Band
  • Craig Bryant, All-State Jr. High Jazz Band

The entire Board is excited to welcome our new Bulletin Editor, Sarah Owen. She is the Band Director at Ramona Middle School in La Verne. She is an accomplished teacher and is well versed in the areas of web tech and social media. We are glad to have her on board with us. 

Don't forget that CAJ hosts a wonderful jazz festival that takes place online allowing ensembles from all over our state to get amazing recorded comments from top educators and players. These groups are also able to watch the performances of all the ensembles in their category. Check out our website at and join us in keeping jazz alive in California.


Lisa Butts

CAJ President

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Register Now for CASMEC!
Please join us for the California All-State Music Education Conference taking place February 19-22, 2015 in Fresno, CA! CAJ is pleased to present several wonderful clinics focusing on vocal and instrumental jazz. Also, please join us for the CAJ Hall of Fame reception in the lobby of the Saroyan Theatre on Friday, February 20th at 6:15pm prior to the All-State Jazz concert. 
Click the link below to register through CAJ (it helps our organization when you register through us!):

Download the list of clinics and conference schedule HERE.

The deadline for convention rates has passed, but the following is a list of hotels near the Convention Center and their availability as of January 17th:
Americas Best Value Inn-Downtown (10 rooms left) 559-233-4896

Park Inn by Radisson (15 rooms left) 559-226-2200

Best Western Village Inn (20 rooms left) 559-226-2110

Ramada Inn University (100 rooms left) 559-224-4040

Piccadilly Inn Shaw (10 rooms left) 559-348-5520

Comfort Suites (9 rooms left) 559-435-5650

La Quinta Inn & Suites Fresno (10 rooms left) 559-275-3700

Hampton Inn & Suites (only 2 left) 559-447-5900

Holiday Inn Fresno Airport (unknown) 559-252-3611

University Square (unknown) 559-224-4200

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 For information: 


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Top Tunes from the CAJ Board


Need a suggestion for a great chart? Members of CAJ Board have compiled a list of their top tunes. Check them out!


Lisa Butts' Top 3 Tunes:

  • Riverscape, Fred Sturm, Straight Eighth, Grade 4, Heritage Music Press
  • The Doomsday Machine Meets Mr. Gelato, Ellen Rowe, Afro Cuban/Swing, Grade 4, Sierra Music Publications
  • Nardis, arr. George Stone, Grade3.5, Hal Leonard Corp.

Mike Galisatus' Top 3 Tunes:

  • Groovin' Hard, Don Menza, Shuffle, Walrus Music
  • You Must Believe in Spring, Arr. Vern Sielert, Swing
  • Big Dipper, Thad Jones, Kendor Music, Inc.

Craig Bryant's Top 3 Tunes:

  • Surge, Chuck Owen, Grade 5, Walrus Publications
  • Movin' Uptown, Benny Carter, Grade 4, Belwin Publishing
  • Afro Blue, arr. Mossman, Grade 3.5, Hal Leonard Publishing

Jeff Tower's Top 3 Tunes:

  • Rococo, Dave Metzger, Walrus Music Publishing
  • Just a Pretty Little Thing, Tom Kubis, Bossa, Walrus Music Publishing
  • Just Friends, Rob McConnell, Fast Swing, Jazz Lines Publications

Ed Wolfe's Top 3 Tunes

  • Hip N' Cool, Les Hooper, Middle School, C.L.Barnhouse
  • Nancy's Dream, Bob Lowden, Middle School, C.L. Barnhouse
  • Lionelville, Doug Beach, Middle School

Christine Guter's Top 3 Charts  

  • Never Say Yes, Nat Adderly/Arr. Matt Falker, SATB with rhythm section, Grade 3+, Matfal Music (
  • For Elizabeth, Rosana Eckert, SSATB with rhythm section (also available for SSAA), Grade 2+, Rosana Eckert Music (
  • Not While I'm Around, Stephen Sondheim/Arr. Kerry Marsh, SSATB with rhythm section, Grade 3, Kerry Marsh Music (

Barb Catlin's Top 3 Charts

  • Groove Merchant, Thad Jones, Kendor Music
  • My Lament, Maria Schneider,
  • Moten Swing/Basie or Main Stem/Ellington
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Advertise in the CAJ Email Newsletter! 

The CAJ Email Newsletter is sent out quarterly:

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. 

Deadlines for ads:  
Sept. 1st: Fall - Dec. 1st: Winter  
March 15th: Spring - May 15th: Summer

Business Card Size (Approx. this block size): $50        
Full Page: $100 
Exclusive email with your ad only!:$150  (You select date)
  Contact Sarah Owen for more info


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Taking the Mystique Out of (Teaching) 

Jazz Improvisation


As a college student about to enter a teaching credential program, I had so many questions about teaching, ensemble direction, conducting, educational philosophies, discipline, and many other music education related topics. There was one particular pedagogical question that loomed like a dark shadow over my quest to become a music educator. How does one teach and learn the art of jazz improvisation?


After three and a half decades of teaching, I am still in search of the definitive answer to this question. However, the shadow is lifting, and light is beginning to emerge through conversations with colleagues, attendance at conference workshops, implementing suggestions from jazz festivals critiques, and exploring the multitude of articles on the subject. Through these various resources, I have come to realize that jazz improvisation is accessible to everyone, and that improvisation can indeed be taught and learned.


In order for a student to excel as a jazz soloist, they must possess two major qualities. First, a student must have the desire and motivation to succeed, and second, the determination to overcome the fear of improvising. When asked what the most important individual quality a student must possess in order to improvise successfully, jazz pianist and author Mark Levine states, "The first quality has to be the desire more than anything else. Of course you have to have talent, but without the desire, they're never going to get anywhere." (Galisatus, 2005). Fear can prevent the musician from performing at optimal levels due to nervousness and the lack of an adequate level of comfort with which to perform. Jazz educator, Frederick Berry offers a summary, "One of the first problems

that you have with students is their reluctance to want to be singled out. Nobody wants to get up and do something that they are uncomfortable with." (Galisatus, 2005).


Instilling the desire and motivation to succeed, and providing the tools to overcome the fear of improvising are tools we, as music educators can provide for our students, but what are the best ways to accomplish these tasks? The development of the skills necessary for jazz improvisation requires time and effort. The development of aural and critical listening skills, mastering instrumental and/or vocal technique, immersion into the jazz community, and knowledge of theory and harmony are the means with which successful jazz improvisation can be obtained.


Read the rest of the article HERE


Mike Galisatus

CMEA Representative

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Congratulations to the 2015 California All-State Jazz Students!

2015 Vocal Ensemble:
Korri Bradley, Enterprise High School (Alissa Aune)
Andrea Cliscagne, Heritage High School (Steven Ernest)
Shanti Herzog, Enterprise High School (Alissa Aune)
Kendra Laguilles, Valencia High School (Christine Tavares-Mocha)

Katelyn Ault, Enterprise High School (Alissa Aune)
Alondra Gonzalez, Folsom High School (Curtis Gaesser)
Rachel Khuc, Piedmont Hills High School (Myles Ellis)

Justin Barton, Enterprise High School (Alissa Aune)
Carl Hatch, Long Beach Polytechnic High School (Brian Dokko)
Tanner Ming, Valencia High School (Christine Tavares-Mocha)

Jeremy Adler, Palos Verdes High School (Shellie Parkinson)
Cole Wersky, Folsom High School (Curtis Gaesser)
Nicholas Tasker, Valencia High School (Christine Tavares-Mocha)

2015 HS Jazz Band:
Eric Nakanishi, Northgate High School (Greg Brown)
Matt Richards, Las Lomas High School (Kara Ravina)
Solomon Alber, Amador Valley High School (Mark Aubel)
Michael Escobar, Rio Americano High School (Josh Murray)
Kaelen Ghandhi, Carlmont High School (John DaBaldo)

Jonah Moss, Northgate High School (Greg Brown)
Jeremy Alvarez, Upland High School (Mark Capalbo)
Antonio Zamora, Buchanan High School (Paul Lucckesi)
Quinn Jones, Westlake High School (Brian Peter)
Alex Oh, Henry M. Gunn High School (Keith Hunter)

Andrew Munoz, Esperanza High School (Bradley Davis)
Ethan Noel Santos, Buchanan High School (Paul Lucckesi)
Glennon Davalos Stanton, Santa Monica High School (Tom Whaley)
Conner Sanchez, Buchanan High School (Paul Lucckesi)

Rhythm Section:
Alex Brandenburg (p), Moorpark High School (John Theisen)
Spencer Lemann (g), Windward School (Dr. Bruce Eskovitz)
Owen Storey (b), Berkeley High School (Sarah Cline)
Gabriel Carpenter (d), Granite Bay High School (Lynn Lewis)
Mackenzie Karbon (v), Westlake High School (Brian Peter)

2015 Junior High Jazz Band:
Henry Urschel, Santa Barbara Junior High School (Karen Dutton)
Zachary Patterson, Fremont Christian School (Thomas Banuelos)
Joshua Feliciano, Palm Desert Charter Middle School (William Lacro)
Dylan Boe, Mesa Verde Middle School (Kurt Gray)
Chloe Brill, Colina Middle School (Mike Gangemi)

Grady Flamm, Winston Churchill Middle School (Sonia Takanikos)
Max Nierlich, Martin Luther King Middle School (Nancy Boyles)
Ryan Wixen, Harvard-Westlake School (LA) (Starr Schaftel Wayne)
Edison Cummings, East Avenue Middle School (Katherine Boster)
David Green, Santa Rosa Middle School (Mark Wardlaw)

Jett Lim, Albany Middle School (Richard Chisholm)
Sophie McGrady, Tierra Linda Middle School (Joe Murphy)
Dustin Reese, Las Colinas Middle School (Reese Copsey)
Mike Carlson, Tierra Linda Middle School (Joe Murphy)

Rhythm section:
Zack Shubert (p), Ralston Middle School (Tom Berletta)
Serena Geroe (g), Oak Crest Middle School (Julie Yaeger)
Chase Karbon (b), Colina Middle School (Mike Gangemi)
Wesley Biasi (d), Oak Crest Middle School (Julie Yaeger)

Exciting Scholarship News!

Three $500 scholarships (one for each group) will be presented to a deserving student in each of the All-State groups this year. Our sincere thanks to these special folks who made this possible! 

Danny and Adele Beher 
John Prince Cookbook
Ed and Nancy Wolfe

In addition, Dave Fruehling, Co-Founder of Strymon Engineering, has given a full scholarship to the CAJ High School guitar player, Spencer Lemann, along with his choice of any custom Strymon guitar pedal he chooses. 
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Elementary Jazz at JEN


The JEN convention in San Diego offered wonderful workshops, clinics, networking and concerts. JEN chairmen for jazz education announced that they are compiling jazz resources and lesson plans that will be available to all members.


Below are some marvelous presenters active in elementary jazz education from Iowa, New York, California and Washington!! I have been involved in their workshops and/or used their valuable materials. You can access their information, lesson plans, activities, and materials online at the sites below. Please check them out and pass this information on to your elementary teachers in both music and general classrooms to help spread the joy of jazz to the younger students.  


Sharon Burch received the Presidents Service Award from JEN. Sharon chairs the Jazz Network Education Committee, and serves as an elementary education consultant for Jazz At Lincoln Center. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early and Middle Childhood Music, a certified teacher with the International Piano Teaching Foundation, and holds a master's degree as a Professional Educator.


Sharon develops educational materials that make abstract concepts fun and easy for children to learn, bringing interactive music back into child's play.  During her 20+ years teaching pre-k through high school vocal and general music in southern Iowa, she launched her own company to produce and author the national best-selling Freddie the Frog Book series, interactive storybooks that teach basic concepts of music, including a kid-friendly introduction to jazz.


Some of her well-known materials include:


Freddie the Frog books and CD's 

"Scat along with Freddie's swingin' jazz for a cool intro to jazz & blues. Use the Scat Words flashcards to help improvise. Take advantage of the Teacher's Guide giving simple steps to get kids scatting and jazz ready."

Flying Jazz Kitten Hardback & CD

Scat Words Flashcards; Scat Singing for Kids: A Step-by-Step Journey in Jazz teacher's guide.  Scat Singing Fun for Kids!


Louise Rogers, vocalist, music specialist, and educator, and Susan Milligan, educator and storyteller, bring jazz to the preschool and early grades in New York City.  Louise is an accomplished performer and a growing leader in the field of jazz education and is the Music Specialist at the Medical Center Nursery School in New York City.


Louise and her husband, Rick Strong, have been performing for adults and children for over 15 years. They are active in the public schools doing workshops and residencies, and perform in the public libraries and parks of NYC. At night they can often be found performing at one of New York City's jazz clubs.


To quote the website, "We combine jazz music, storytelling and improvisational theater techniques to teach young children music, literature and social skills. Our technique utilizes young children's ability to learn most effectively through play as we 'play' with jazz music and stories.


Jazz is easily accessible to teachers and children. You don't need to be a trained musician to improvise and to make jazz a part of your daily program. You don't have to take time away from skill building in other areas. Children learn literacy, math, music, small and large motor skills, visual arts, social studies and multicultural awareness while they are having fun 'playing' with music. "


The following link takes you to their easy to use materials.  The two books listed below have many great ideas and resources with CDs. 


Jazz Mosaics "offers a variety of age-appropriate, play-centered lessons that can be easily integrated into your existing curriculum. Students will learn about jazz greats, styles, and history through activities and cross-curricular connections that are creative and engaging. Easy to teach, the music lessons are appropriate for children in pre-school through third grade. The accompanying CD contains examples and vocals for echoing, learning and fun!"


Sherry Luchette introduced her Jazzy Fairy Tales (

"Swing, boogie and dance as the playfulness of jazz gives these original versions of well known fairy tales new life! From the first sounds of Rick's bass and Louise's voice, children are transported into a magical world where chocolate pudding tames a wolf, bears boogie and sing the blues, and trolls and goats scat and dance on tippy toes over bridges."


"Sherry teaches acoustic and electric bass at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music in Pasadena, CA. She has been freelancing as a jazz bassist in the Los Angeles area for 15 years. Her teaching experience includes early childhood music, elementary music, and high school jazz combo coaching. Combining her love and expertise as a jazz bassist with her love of teaching children has led to three book/CD sets called "The Flying Jazz Kittens," materials filled with jazz blues, stories, and activities for the general music classroom. Sherry continues to write more materials and give clinics throughout the country for both teachers and children in various music camps and classrooms."


In her workshops, participants sing a simple blues melody, and incorporate scat singing using body percussion and non-pitched percussion instruments in their beginning improvisations. They learn how to play through and improvise over a basic blues chord progression using classroom xylophones, recorders, props, and games.


Natalie Wilson ( addressed jazz vocal and general music.  "Natalie Wilson has taught in the Camas, Washington School District for 30 years:

18 at the secondary choral/vocal jazz level and most recently 12 at the elementary level, teaching General Music and grade 3-5 Vocal Jazz. Natalie has had award winning vocal jazz ensembles at each level.  She is a leading expert in vocal jazz at the elementary level. 


Some of the concepts she shares are: using the melody as a starting point for

Improvisation, creating a language and developing confidence, learning how to

"speak" to a developing rhythm section on piano, bass and drums in order to develop confidence working with a vocal ensemble, techniques for playing and appropriate jazz oriented activities.


Her premise is that while choral and music educators embrace the teaching of multi-cultural music in their programs, Natalie finds that America's cultural music - jazz - is often overlooked.  It is her desire to share specific, easy-to-understand techniques and examples with audiences to encourage the teaching of jazz. She is K-8 General Music and Vocal Jazz Chair on the Education Committee of JEN.


Coralie Prince 

Elementary Rep

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CAJ Website News


The CAJ Website began a "come-back" in 2014. After being "dormant" for over two years, we began to update and re-organize the site with new pages, new links, new media and jazz education articles. The home page now contains announcements and news as it becomes available. Past and current newsletter links are now easy to find with the new link on the main menu. The "Hall of Fame" page is now currently up to date and will soon have the newly elected members for 2015 listed as well.


There is, however, much to be done. As time permits, we would like to develop a comprehensive "archives" page, add more clinic and teacher aide posts, create a new page dedicated to former CAJ officers, continue to add jazz events on the new calendar page, develop a new sidebar and generally make the site more attractive. To that end, we are proud to announce that Sarah Owen, a middle school band director in the Bonita Unified School District, has consented to share the duties of newsletter editor and webmaster. Sarah and I will work together to completely re-do the website appearance, bring it into the twenty-first century by making it easier to navigate, by linking it with several social media sites and by bringing it more into line with the other great music organization's sites.


We at CAJ are proud of our fine jazz educators throughout the state and are anxious to provide additional resources, festival opportunities, clinics and many other educational opportunities for California's jazz students. It is our intention to have our website become more interactive with them and more informative. To that end, we will soon be going "into construction" to upgrade to the latest Wordpress program and to re-organize the design of the site. We want to thank the CAJ board as well as previous board members who continue to provide our organization with outstandingly valuable jazz education information. Each and every board member is an outstanding jazz educator who deeply believes in the musical growth of California's music students. They have all shown musical excellence in developing their own musical organizations and have much to offer jazz education in California.


Through our newsletters and a newly designed website, we intend to provide jazz students throughout the state with information, clinics, performance opportunities and interactive discussion with some of the great jazz individuals as resources who are available to our organization. It is an exciting time for jazz education in California and our young organization under exceptional leadership will be at the forefront providing the resources our jazz students and their fine teachers can use to meet the high standards they have for personal and group success.

Ed Wolfe
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Encourage your friends to join CAJ!
Support jazz education in California!

Membership is offered on a variety of levels:

Regular: $50
Retired: $25
Student: $15
Patron: $100

For membership forms/Paypal/Credit card:
For membership questions:


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