Young and old are encouraged to put on their dancing shoes to enjoy a night of Big Band music.
By Mary O’KEEFE
The Big Band Era was from the 1930s to the 1940s. It was born of a time when the country was climbing out of a depression only to face a World War, but the music brought a sense of pride to those who heard it – it was all American and so much fun to dance to.
Some may say music has changed quite a bit in the past 60-some years since audiences first heard the iconic opening of “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller and his orchestra. Well, for those who were around when this music first hit the radio waves to those who were born long after the Big Band leaders took their final bow, the place to be is Crescenta Valley High School on Feb. 7.
Jazz Night at the Café is a special fundraiser for Crescenta Valley Instrumental Music, the music department at CV High School. The annual event has been a jazz band tradition for about 10 years. The CVHS award winning, world famous jazz band performs just like the big bands did, on a dance floor.
“This [performance] is put on by the CVHS jazz band members who are [students now] and alumni,” said Dena Blood, jazz band parent and chair of the event.
The jazz band has a tagline of “world famous” because the band is just that having attended many competitions where they were recognized for their skill and competed against bands from all over the world, Blood said. The jazz band has traveled to the Santa Barbara High School Jazz Festival and other competitions where they have won or placed.
Before the students can become part of the jazz band, they must go through a rigorous audition process when the best of the best are chosen. And from the first day they are a “real” jazz band whose musicians are able to pick up on each other’s leads and keep up with whatever direction the music takes them.
“[Once they are in the band] they practice Monday through Friday at school,” Blood said.
They know each other so well and are such professionals that they are able to put together a piece of music very quickly.
“They were putting together music for the VAPA [Visual and Performing Arts] assembly at the school [today]. They chose a Bruno Mars song that they only received [music] for a few days ago, but they are able to pull it off,” Blood said.
The musicians are expected to have private music instructors and are to listen to at least two hours of jazz music each week outside of class. They must keep a record or journal of that music as well.
The head of this amazing band is CVHS Music Director Mat Schick who has led the CVHS bands, jazz and marching, to many competition victories.
“Mr. Schick brings in professional [musicians] to meet with the kids,” Blood said.
Blood is a veteran jazz band parent; her son Johnny was a drummer who graduated last year. Her daughter Annie is a pianist with the jazz band and her other younger children are already taking music lessons and are waiting for their chance at the jazz band.
Blood just happened upon Jazz Night at the Cafe about six years ago, before her children were involved with the school’s music department.
“My husband and I were ballroom dancers,” she said.
They love to dance and they had so much fun that first night that they have gone every year since.
“I have just seen it become so popular over the years,” she said. “It was already doing well when I became chair, so I came into something that was [already] working.”
The night is just a great time for the entire family, from great- grandparents to young siblings, Blood added.
And for those who might not know how to dance to the Big Band Swing era music, there will be a dance instructor on hand to help. This year Prom Plus Club members will also be there to help teach.
Blood said it is really great to see several generations dancing to the same music.
Not only will those in attendance have a great time dancing and listening to classic Big Band music, but they also will know that by purchasing a ticket they are helping to support an amazing music department of dedicated musicians.
Jazz Night at the Café is on Feb. 7 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are sold at the door; students and jazz band alumni tickets are $5, $10 for adults.
For those who cannot make the event but would like to help the CVHS Music Department, donations can be made to CVIM and mailed to CVHS, 2900 Community Ave., La Crescenta, CA 91214. For more information, contact Dena Blood at Dena.Blood@yahoo.com.
CVHS Color Guard Fundraiser
The Crescenta Valley High School Color Guard, part of the CVHS Music Department, is holding a Krispy Kreme fundraiser. They are selling $12 tickets that will reserve 10 Krispy Kreme stickers. When customers purchase one dozen donuts, they can present one sticker to get a second dozen free. The stickers do not expire.
To order the stickers and to support the Color Guard, call or text (818) 445-2316 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.