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In 1986, The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society launched a new endeavor in its on going mission to preserve classic American jazz. The idea was to bring young, aspiring jazz musicians together with an all-star faculty in a beautiful, natural environment that was sure to inspire great music. In the years that have followed, the camp has played host to such prominent educators as Johnny Varro, Dick Cary, Bob Havens, Bill Allred, Dan Barrett, Howard Alden, Gene Estes, and Abe Most.

The STJS summer jazz camp began as a tool to aid in jazz preservation but what was achieved was far greater. Not only were the students being instilled with a love of traditional jazz, they were being prepared for their whole lives – whether they became professional musicians, or not. It became apparent that the small jazz band model was a perfect platform for young people to problem solve, gain an understanding of responsibility, work on social skills and make choices about music in their lives.

In 1997, a new chapter was opened with the STJS Adult Traditional Jazz Camp. The hope was to offer further musical education and guidance to campers who had passed the age limit for the youth camp, but still very much wanted to continue their musical growth and participation in the camp. Soon, it became apparent that former youth campers weren’t the only ones interested!

Today’s adult jazz campers range in age from late teens to late eighties! They come from all walks of life, all skill levels and with many different goals. While the camp still plays host to lots of returning youth campers, many players are professional or semi-professional musicians who want to gain an understanding of traditional jazz.

Several are comeback musicians who are returning to music after years in retirement. Some are classical musicians who are looking for their first venture into improvising, and others are adult beginning musicians looking for their first excursion in music. This variety has served to deepen and enrich the quality of the program, bringing together diverse people who all share a love of traditional jazz music.

Looking back to 1986, the STJS camp has become a legend in its own right. In the years to come, it is the goal of the STJS to continue to provide this fun opportunity to jazz musicians of all skill levels, thus fostering better musicians, better people, and a better world. Enroll today to become a part of this memorable musical event!