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Today, The Ventura High School Jazz Combo, directed by veteran teacher and music director, Natalie Williams, kicks things off.  This “white hat” gang comes ridin’ six strong, consisting of Nate Rowley, Drums, Christian Bennett, Bass, Collette Kohanim, Piano and Vocals, Jacob Gilbreath, Drums, Joe Sartee, Guitar and Sax, and Claire Burgi, vocals. Natalie proudly
describes the high level of dedication her young musicians pay to this group and the school’s music program overall. She describes how many have chosen music as a lifetime career and tells how they help meet the challenge of funding the school’s $100,000 music program through bake sales, “horse and buggy” washes and any other good fundraising ideas they take a mind to.
While funding is a challenge, somehow, with the combined muscle of the students, parents, and community, they get it done (‘bout a third of the funds comes from “The District”). Back in the day, they might have called this some good ole’ barn raisin’!
Soon after parking their horses, the combo starts us off with a cute little tune called “One Meatball” featuring vocalist, Claire Burgi. Fittin’ for the day, Claire’s suited in her black cowgirl boots adorned with ?ne white stitchin’ of the type you might ?nd a couple towns over and looking right smart, she was! So as to not miss not one musical holler, I plop right down onto a saloon stool directly facing center stage. These young whippersnappers are nicely spit shined up, well-mannered and, at ?rst, looking a bit on the serious side, but they fell right in comfortable as new chickens in fresh turned soil once they sized us up and saw how harmless and unserious we are.
“Sing it Claire, sing it! Yeaaaa! Sing it to us”, shouted an unruly audience member (me) and at that, Claire had to comply with an apparent mighty compelling she had to crack a smile.

The Combo performs "My Funny Valentine, “Summertime” (Collette Kohanim on vocals), and wrap up with “Nature Boy”, and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.  By the time “Ritz” came around, folks were cheerin’ real good, (‘specially the sound man, now full as a tick on his fourth bowl of popcorn),
“More, more, do one more!” I’m all the while thinkin’ somebody outer feed that boy ‘fore he really gets outa hand to eat us out of room and board! Unfortunately, time would not permit one more from these young saddlers if we were to keep schedule with the next two teams ridin’ in, (the CCJ C Jammers and feature band, Swing Into Spring ). We’ll have to have The Combo back
for sure next turn they have to run herd through town. Besides sportin’ their best “bib and tucker” (party clothes), they were nicely studied up with some great ole’ tunes. Besides that, they come with a refreshing, new artist innocence. Thanks VC High. Keep ridin’ strong! Oh, and I have to add, I had proud Grandmas and Grandpas pokin’ my ribs to point out how wonderful
their young’ns are. . . Grandparents, I agree! Ya done good rearing and guiding ‘em and we wanna thank you kindly for lendin’ ‘em to us today!

We are pleased to announce that the Channel Cities Jazz Club will be sponsoring the following 4 students from Ventura High School for the 2011 summer jazz camp at Sacramento: Asa Tabor, trumpet, Nic Ming, baritone sax, Nate Rowley, drums & trumpet, and Christian Bennett, bass & bass guitar. All four have been formally accepted to the camp. Kudos to these students and to Jim Holbrook for his dedicated support of this summer program.

Thanks largely to the efforts of Jim Holbrook, the Jazz Club has been successful in recruiting three very ?ne candidates for the annual Summer Youth Jazz Camp in Sacramento. The Jazz Club covers the $600 tuition for each student plus an additional $125 to each one to help with the travel expenses. Each student had to prepare their own application for acceptance to the camp which includes an essay describing their interest in jazz and music in general, and requires a recommendation from their music director. These young people are very good students and we (The Jazz Club) are certainly pleased to be able to sponsor them and, as always, we’re very excited that all our candidates have again been accepted.

From Santa Paula High School, we have l8 year old Andrea Toledo, a senior, who plays in the school’s jazz band under the direction of Doug Kadansky. Andrea plays alto, tenor and baritone saxes and she also sings.  James Edmondson is a 17-year-old senior at Hueneme High School where Kyle Norwood is his musical director. Like Andrea, James also plays the alto, tenor and baritone saxes in the Oxnard High School and the Moorpark College jazz bands.
From Ventura High School we have Dru Blossom. Dru is l5 years old and is in ninth grade where he plays trombone in the jazz band under the direction of Natalie Williams.  We would be remiss if we did not mention that we are able to send these ?ne young musicians to the Summer jazz camp largely because of a generous donation to the scholarship fund by Martha “B”. Thanks Martha! We look forward to hearing from these students after they have completed their week
at the jazz camp. The enthusiastic letters we’ve gotten in the past are reason enough for us to keep sending deserving students to the jazz camp each year.

Letters From Jazz Campers
Dear Channel Cities Jazz Club,

What was jazz camp? A week full of shenanigans, games, new people, and of course jazz. From the moment we arrived it was evident that this camp was all about music. On the ?rst day I thought what they were asking of us was insane, but as the week went along it came naturally. There is no arguing that this was the best week out of the entire summer. Every day the sun was out, which was a nice change compared to the I usually gray skies of Oxnard.  All of the camp staff were extremely friendly and just made the experience better. I was put into the cabin Incense Cedar, which was the l7-19-year-old cabin, where more shenanigans happened than anywhere else in the camp. (i.e. Tripwires, brooms in beds, sticks in beds, books in beds, etc.)  All of the guys in the cabin were awesome people that were there to learn and to just have a good time. I was placed into band 3, which was hard to deal with at ?rst but I got over it. As the week progressed the band became tighter and tighter. At the concert we set the standard for the other band to follow. We no longer sounded like band 3, we sounded like band 9. It was awesome. I learned more there than I had ever known about theory and musicianship. It was a great learning experience. I wish to thank the Channel Cities Jazz Club from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity of a life time.

~James Edmondson

Dear Channel Cities Jazz Club,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience what the Sacramento Jazz Camp had to offer. I can honestly say I learned more in a week at that camp then I have in four years in my high school jazz band. My week there was ?lled with band rehearsals, jam sessions, music theory classes, friendly “band against band” competitions every day. I’ve made new friends with the same passion for jazz, so getting to discuss the world of jazz was very different, I’ve never had any one to discuss the topic with, so being able to exchange ideas and style preferences was a fun way of using the free time we had between breaks and classes, or we would go into the gym to play ping or volleyball.  I’ve expanded my improvising had ever imagined I skills father than I was capable of, and up till camp week I never had the chance of being in a jam session, so jamming with the other campers and councilors was a new enjoyable experience. I’ve always
have been too busy to focus only on music, so having an entire week just to do so was very invigorating. Ever since I came back from camp my view on jazz has completely changed. I had just wanted to play jazz in college as an extra-curricular but now I am considering majoring in music. I can’t seem to ?nd any more words to describe my ?rst year at jazz camp because it’s something that one has to experience themselves. So again, thank you Channel Cities Jazz Club for making my trip possible. If it hadn’t been for your generosity I never would have had the opportunity to go.

~Andrea R. Toledo

Dear Mr. Holbrook and the Channel Cities Jazz Club,

Thank you so much for sending me up to the Sacramento Trad Jazz Youth Camp in Sly Park. I’ve never been around so many amazing musicians before. Everyone there, students and instructors alike, were masters of traditional jazz and spread their knowledge to anyone who would listen.  I’ve had a bit of experience soloing and improvising but what we had to do at the camp was a whole new level. All the jazz I’d played before was completely written out and just read off the paper but at the camp the music was only for reference and everything was improvised, not just the solos. It took me a while to get it down, but now that I have, I don’t want to go back to just reading off the paper.  Being in such a small band of only ten people was very
new. I’d never been in a jazz band smaller than twenty people and I’ve always had three other trombones in band with me. Being the only trombone in the band made it a bit more stressful but
also gave me a lot more room to explore the music the way I wanted to, not just ?tting with the group. Also I had my ?rst experience with playing alongside a vocalist, changing the entire dynamic of the band and how the music is played.

Everyone at the camp was extremely helpful and kind. The faculty was always there to help and give advice. Each instructor was a master of their instruments and knew how to make any and every sound come out their instrument that they wanted. All of the campers there were as nice as people come. Everyone was open and welcoming to each other and it created an amazing environment where everyone helped everyone making each other better.  Going to the camp has made me a much better musician and person. I learned a great deal about traditional jazz and life at the camp that I doubt I could learn anywhere else, especially in just a week’s time. Thank you again for sending me up to the camp. My experiences there will surely stick with me for the rest of my life.

~Dru Blossom

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