Back in the swing
The mellow sound of a live jazz band wafted through the aisles on a recent Sunday afternoon in downtown Simi Valley.
The pleasant melodies emanating from inside 99.1 Ranch Radio Station were not only music to the ears of buyers, but were the sound of relief to the 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 has 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 give local musicians the opportunity to come together and improvise.
After the “jammers” are presented groups, the size and style of which may vary. Some groups play contemporary jazz; others specialize in swing.
The public is welcome to attend, with a 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 broadcast 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, audiences were treated to a performance of standard and contemporary melodies from the Great Studio C Band, a 12-piece jazz group led by Larry Cossid and featuring live musicians. from across Ventura County.
Sophie Holt, the singer of the group, sang tunes by various artists, from Pussycat Dolls to Stevie Wonder.
To watch the show on YouTube, go online at minusculeurl.com/ simijazz1221.
“It was a good show and a good turnout for us,” said Mark Pallock, president of the jazz club and chief engineer of 99.1 The Ranch.
Pallock said it was a challenge to rebuild the club 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 find their way around and it went really 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 board member of the Simi Valley Jazz and Dance Club and president of the Channel Cities Jazz Club, a partner group that hosts events on the third Sunday of each month in Ventura.
LaCroix said the clubs are working hard to strengthen their squads.
Visitors will be spoiled when they come to the shows, as they feature talented local musicians, LaCroix said.
Her husband, Lenny LaCroix, regularly plays with the jammers. He’s a professional keyboardist who worked with Michael Jackson and Shirley MacLaine and performed at the Oscars.
Susan LaCroix said the Studio C band is indicative of the type of top-notch bands that perform in the club’s shows.
“Being able to attend an event with a group like this is special. It’s very rare to hear great music like this, ”said LaCroix. “And it’s not an outrageous price to walk in the door and you can have a wonderful time listening and dancing to the music.”
LaCroix said the club is trying 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 to dance and I’m glad things are opening up again so I can practice. I haven’t danced for two years (due to the pandemic shutdowns) 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 Tony Gracia, 86, a Lancaster resident, who regularly plays the trumpet with the jammers.
Cossid, the frontman of Studio C, said there are benefits to listening to music and performing in groups.
“Music is a wonderful tool to stay alive and stay young,” Cossid said.
For more information on the club, go online at minusculeurl.com/ simijazzclub.