The jazz club finally back in swing after confinement
The soft sounds of live jazz rumbled through downtown Simi Valley venues on a recent Sunday afternoon.
The pleasing melodies emanating from inside 99.1 The Ranch radio station were not only music to shoppers’ ears, but were the sound of relief to members of the Simi Valley Jazz and Dance Club.
The non-profit club is made up of people who enjoy listening and dancing to music from the 1920s to the 1960s.
It was in March 2020 that the club lost their ability to perform at their longtime home at Simi Valley Senior Center, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club temporarily disbanded, but has now found new life at The Ranch Studios in Suite 730 at 1555 Simi Town Center Way.
Every second Sunday of the month, the club hosts 90-minute open jam sessions that allow local musicians to come together and improvise.
After the “jammers”, there are featured groups, which can vary in size and style. Some bands play contemporary jazz; others specialize in the swing.
The public is invited to attend, with a doorstep donation of $10 for club members and $15 for non-members. The next event will take place from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 9 and will be streamed live on YouTube.
Club members are dedicated to instilling a love of jazz in people of all ages.
At the club’s most recent event, on December 12, an audience was treated to a rendition of standard and contemporary tunes by the Great Studio C Band, a 12-piece jazz band led by Larry Cossid and featuring featured musicians from across Ventura County.
Sophie Holt, the band’s lead singer, sang tunes from a range of artists, from the Pussycat Dolls to Stevie Wonder.
To watch the show on You-Tube, go online to tinyurl.com/ simjazz1221.
“It was a good show and a good turnout for us,” said Mark Pallock, jazz club president and chief engineer of 99.1 The Ranch.
Pallock said it has been a challenge getting the club back on its feet since COVID-19.
“We don’t have a lot of money as a non-profit organization. . . But since I’m on the radio, I asked everyone to meet there, and it went very well.
“Trying to get people out after COVID to attend these events has also been a challenge, but they’re slowly coming back,” Pallock said.
Oxnard resident Susan La-Croix is a member of the Simi Valley Jazz and Dance Club board of directors and also president of the Channel Cities Jazz Club, a partner group that hosts events on the third Sunday of each month in Ventura.
LaCroix said clubs are working hard to rebuild their squads. Visitors will be spoiled when they come to the shows as they feature talented local musicians, LaCroix said.
Her husband, Lenny LaCroix, plays regularly with the jammers. He’s a professional keyboard player who’s worked with Michael Jackson and Shirley MacLaine and performed at the Oscars.
Susan LaCroix said the Studio C band is indicative of the kind of top-notch bands that play at club shows.
“Being able to come to an event with a band like this is special. It’s very rare to hear great music like this,” LaCroix said. door and you can have a wonderful time listening and dancing to the music.”
LaCroix said the club tries to attract the interest of young music fans, noting that modern artists like Michael Buble often cover jazz standards.
Jeanne Hoffman-Weisel from Santa Paula regularly attends club events so she can dance.
“I love dancing and I’m glad things are opening up again so I can practice. I haven’t danced in two years (due to pandemic closures) and it feels good,” said Hoffman-Weisel, who hit the dance floor with John Shelton, 76, of Thousand Oaks.
“Playing music is relaxing and enjoyable,” said Lancaster resident Tony Gracia, 86, who regularly plays trumpet with the jammers.
Studio C frontman Cossid said there are benefits to listening to music and performing in a group.
“Music is a wonderful tool for staying alive and staying young,” Cossid said.
For more information about the club, go online to tinyurl.com/ simjazzclub.