The Power of Good
& THE CALIFORNIA JAZZ CONSERVATORY
"To me, what's better
than sharing what you can with others?"
Susan Muscarella, founder and director of the California Jazz Conservatory.
Susan Muscarella founded the California Jazz School in Berkeley,
CA when she was 47. The year was 1997. The pianist and educator branched out from decades of teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. She'd grown up in Oakland and Contra
Costa County and heard the Ramsey Lewis Trio when the Beatles were so popular around 1965 and she said, "That works for me." The Jazz School was a big hit. "It grew so quickly
that I had to find another building." Soon 150 part-time students
had grown to 750.
By 2009 Susan Muscarella was ready for a further venture. She
wanted to offer a Degree Program in Jazz Studies--an 'independent music conservatory ... devoted solely to jazz and
related styles of music'--the California Jazz Conservatory.
Fortunes have favored the CJC. Its Faculty draws from the
cornucopia of superb jazz musicians in the Bay Area. 62 have graduated with their Degree in Jazz Studies and many are working musicians. Thousands have benefited from the
four-Semester 'History of Jazz", taught by Dr. Anthony Brown.
Jennifer Maxwell, drummer and co-founder of the world's
pioneering energy-bar, Power Bar. was one who came through.
"Music provides an energy
that nothing else can.... Many students have been
transformed by the programs that we offer."
Jennifer took up drumming after her husband Brian--a world-class marathoner before the couple dove into creation of the food that became Power Bar--passed away due to congenital heart-failure in 2004. Jennifer then had six children to raise, including a 7-month-old. "It took me a couple of years to get to where I could function again, and in the healing process, music just came to me," she told East Bay Magazine last Spring. Drums-set--though difficult!--was her chosen instrument. "The pulse and the beat and the physicality of it was so, so
captivating. It was hard. I mean, it took me over 10 years to get competent at all."
Now Susan and Jennifer rehearse and perfrom in the California
Jazz Ensemble. Jennifer's support of the CJC continues to grow.
The J.AThe 'JAMBAR Presents' series of Concerts in the Jazz Conservatory's Rendon Hall extends through 2023. Already
Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, Billy Childs, Wu Man, ... have performed with the CJC's Director of Instruction, Jeff Denson. on bass and
the J.A.M. Distinguished Professor, Gerald Cleaver, on drums-set.
Susan Muscarella couldn't be happier. "The values that Jennifer
brings to JAMBAR are in synch with the values we have here at
the California Jazz Conservatory. Jennifer has let us strengthen
our diversity. She's been an inspiration. Salt-of-the-earth, and
one-of-a-kind. She has a solid glow."
"And I really LIKE the JAMBARs.
How they taste and the energy they give me."
In its 25th year the California Jazz Conservatory maintains its
CJC graduate and touring artist Susana Pineda performs.