Jazz dinner to celebrate music and local schools

Aug 20, 2020 | Lake Arrowhead

The Blue Jay Jazz Foundation may have had to cancel its annual jazz festival this year but they will hold a dinner in celebration of music and in support of local schools on Sept. 2.

The event, “Celebrating Music, Supporting Local Schools,” will begin at 6 p.m. outdoors on the patio at The Tudor House. Social distancing guidelines will be followed.

Proceeds from the event – for which there is a $25 cover charge – will help kick off Blue Jay Jazz’s support of student musicians for the 2020-21 school year. This includes its “Give an Instrument, Inspire a Musician” lending program, sponsorship of master classes and student scholarships.

Any guest who brings a band instrument in workable condition with case (no guitars or other stringed instruments) will get in free. Additional cash donations will also be accepted. Everyone who contributes an instrument or cash will receive a donation receipt for tax deduction purposes.

“The Tudor House has been keeping the hills alive with the sound of music thanks to Bruce Rubio and his Speakeasy Band,” said John Connor, owner of The Tudor House. “They’ve allowed us to provide our community with a safe, outdoor, socially distant environment in which to have dinner and listen to live jazz. On Sept. 2, working with the mountain’s leading jazz organization, we will use this successful format to support our community’s schools and music program.”

For this special evening, Nick Maltas and Cameron Harris – past Blue Jay Jazz scholarship recipients who went on to become working musicians – will be onstage. Maltas, who plays saxophone, will sit in with the band for a couple of songs while Harris will open the evening with a solo acoustic guitar set.

The Speakeasy Band will include Rubio on saxophones, flute and percussion; Tom Fernandes, guitar; Will Lyle, bass; and David Hitchings on drums. Guest performers, in addition to Maltas and Harris, will be vocalist Julie Kelly and keyboardist Bradley Young.

Rubio, a former music teacher at Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School, who taught Maltas in grade school, said, “Since the pandemic began, the music has been able to continue under the guidelines of the state and county. And, because a lot of top musicians are not able to be out playing on the road, they have been available to perform with us. I don’t know of any other place in Southern California that in the past year has had the jazz that’s gone on in here at The Tudor House.”

“The upheaval caused by the pandemic has had a special impact on schools and especially on music programs that rely on the collective experience of performance,” said Chris Levister, Blue Jay Jazz Foundation president. “And, while students can learn a lot on computers, they still need an actual musical instrument to practice at home.”

Kari Bush, Rim of the World High School’s music director, said that teaching all her classes online – choir, advanced choir, orchestra, jazz band and marching band – will be more difficult this term, “but not impossible.

“Because of the pandemic,” she said, “the school is doing a COVID cleaning in addition to maintenance on every instrument the students are likely to need this year, which delayed handing them out. This necessary cleaning, however, has used my entire year’s budget and I won’t be able to do any repairs if anything goes wrong with any of the students’ instruments.”

“This is why, in addition to collecting instruments for our lending program, we are encouraging financial donations to the BJJF Education Fund this fall that can go directly to helping replenish Rim’s own repair fund,” said Dr. Hugh Bialecki, BJJF vice president. “And this event is just the kick-off. We will continue to accept instruments throughout the school year.”

Lori Semeniuk added, “This is an important opportunity for those who love jazz to not only come together and enjoy it, but to ensure its future in our community with instruments and financial support that keep our future generations participating.”

In addition to Dr. Bialecki, Levister and Semeniuk, the Foundation board of directors includes Wayne Austin, Dr. Ernest Levister, Dan Parker and Gina Richardson.

Due to social distancing requirements, seating will be strictly limited and reservations are required. Reservations can be made by email to [email protected] or by phone to (909) 336-7504.

Hot food and drinks will be available for purchase. Guests may bring wine and pay a corkage fee, but no food can be brought to the event.

The Tudor House is located at 800 Arrowhead Villa Road in Lake Arrowhead. For more information on the Tudor House, visit tudorhouseentertainment.villas. For more information on the BJJF, visit www.bluejayjazz.org.



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