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’Cats host Super Jazz at the Ranch

Community: Event raises funds to supports local jazz programs

Posted: June 1, 2010 10:27 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The students from the West Ranch Lab Band. West Ranch recently hosted a Super Jazz festival, which became a major fundraiser for the bands involved.

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More than 35 jazz bands from Southern California middle and high schools attended Super Jazz at the Ranch at West Ranch High on May 22.

Bob Babko, director of jazz studies at West Ranch, and jazz-band boosters June and Dave Downs organized the many jazz supporters who helped with the day’s activities.

This year marked the 14th Super Jazz festival, which is one of the major fundraising activities for the jazz bands at West Ranch High School.

Local jazz bands that participated in the event included Rancho Pico Junior High, which earned a third place award, and La Mesa Junior High, which earned second place.

Competing in the Intermediate Morning category, Saugus High placed first, Hart placed second and Canyon placed third.

Valencia High competed in the Intermediate Afternoon category and placed first, while Golden Valley High earned a third-place award. Valencia also had a combo which placed first in the Novice Combo division.

Because it was the host school, the West Ranch Lab Jazz Band and Studio A Jazz Band did not compete, but the Studio A band earned first place in the Heavy division — the highest division — at a Workman High competition on May 15.

Both West Ranch bands have won awards in jazz festivals this spring.

Super Jazz also featured the debut of the Hart District All-Stars. Members from all William S. Hart Union High School District jazz bands auditioned for a place in this group, which was directed by well-known arranger Tom Kubis. All high schools were represented in the All-Stars band.

In addition to Kubis, the following illustrious jazz personalities participated as judges and clinicians: Tom Peterson, on saxophone; David Roitstein, the director of jazz studies at California Institue of the Arts; Tom Scott, a renowned composer, arranger, producer and saxophonist; Bob Sheppard, a saxophonist with The Peter Erskine Trio, and formerly with Chick Corea and many others; Gary Solt, associate dean of the baccalaureate program at L.A.’s Musician’s Institute; Charley Davis a, trumpeter who has played with Woody Herman, Bob Florence, Buddy Rich, Michael Buble and Barry Manilow; Les Hooper, composer, arranger, sound designer for television, movies and commercials; Joel Leach, the 26-year director of Cal State University, Northridge’s jazz band, current professor of the music industry studies program at CSUN and former president of the International Association for Jazz Education; and Don Menza, whose credits include solos with the bands of Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson, and collaborations with Elvin Jones and Keely Smith.

The exhibition band included keyboardist Jeff Babko, who has played with Jimmy Kimmel Live, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Robben Ford, TOTO and Larry Carlton; drummer Tom Brechtlein,  who has played with Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Al Di Meola, Jean Luc Ponty and Robben Ford; Jimmy Johnson on bass,  who has played with James Taylor, Allan Holdsworth, Stan Getz and Rod Stewart; saxophonist Bob Sheppard,  who has played with Peter Erskine, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard and Randy Brecker; and Jacques Voyemant on trombone, who has played with Bruce Lofgren, Buddy Childers, Clare Fischer, Johnny Mandeo, Poncho Sanchez, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Al Jarreau.

West Ranch Principal Bob Vincent said, “I am so proud of each of our musicians and their commitment to jazz. Jazz education remains an important part of our school’s curriculum, and we are appreciative of the sacrifices that have been made to continue this important work. And especially thanks to all of the parents who have given of their time and energy to make this day a special time.”

You can support the award-winning Wildcat Jazz program by purchasing the CD available on June 19 for $10, and by attending next year’s Super Jazz at West Ranch High School on May 21, 2011. For more information, contact Bob Babko at


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