Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival

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The Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival (PCCJF), later renamed the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival, was held on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley from the early 1970’s to the early 2000's.[1] The host, the University of California Jazz Ensembles, invited musicians from California, Oregon, Washington, and other western states bands to perform during a weekend event held annually in April. For several years held on the campus of Cal State Northridge, Dr. David W. Tucker, the first director of the UC Jazz Ensembles, offered to organize and present the festival under its new name after Cal State Northridge decided it would no longer host the event.

Professional jazz musicians appeared as clinicians and guest soloists with the premier Wednesday Night Band of the host UC Jazz Ensembles at the Saturday night concert and awards ceremony. The festival was administered solely by staff and student members of the UC Jazz Ensembles. Performance venues included Zellerbach Auditorium and Pauley Ballroom on the UC Berkeley campus. Best Music Company of Oakland provided a scholarship award to the student musician judged most outstanding.[2]

Initially a competition for collegiate vocalists, combos, and big bands, the festival expanded to include high school competitors and was re-named the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival. It proved to be a major recruiting tool for high school jazz musicians who had considered and had the academic qualifications to enroll at the University of California, Berkeley.

The festival was one of the eight regional collegiate festivals in the American Collegiate Jazz Festival program.[3] 
The American College Jazz Festival, which was established in 1968, took place at these regional sites throughout the United States, but disbanded in 1973. Of the various regional collegiate festivals, the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival and Elmhurst College Jazz Festival continue.

In its later years the festival was underwritten by See’s Candy of the San Francisco Bay Area. After the death of the youngest child, Charles B. "Harry" See (1921-1999), of the founders Charles See and his wife Florence (founders in 1921 along with his mother Mary) sponsorship ceased and the PCJF was terminated due to lack of funding. The decision to cease sponsorship was made by Warren Buffett, as president of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, which had purchased See’s in 1972. A professionally-administered, non-collegiate jazz festival, the Berkeley Jazz Festival, was created in Berkeley with performances held in the Greek Theatre on the UC Berkeley campus.

Competing against the finest big bands from the Los Angeles area, many of which had members who were studio musicians who enrolled in jazz band to keep their “chops” in shape, the host UC Jazz Ensembles Wednesday Night Band won third place in the big band division in the 1974 PCCJF. They tied for third with the big band from UCLA,[4] home of a renowned jazz education program. The following year, at the 1975 festival, the Wednesday Night Band won second place.[5]

The victories for the UC Jazz program were remarkable achievements for an organization that was founded by students in the Fall of 1967 and obtained their first professional director, “Doc” Tucker, in the Fall of 1968. [6]

See also

Guest Soloists and Clinicians

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In the media

Never Split Tens!, a novel based on the life of pioneering blackjack probability theorist Edward O. Thorp, by Les Golden and published in 2017 by Springer features a scene from the Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival and numerous musicians from the Jazz Ensembles including director Dr. David W. Tucker, saxophonist and assistant director David LeFebvre, pianist and steel drummer Andy Narell, and co-founders Bob Docken and Rick Penner as well as Golden as the emcee of the Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival.


  1. ^ 1974, “Jazz Festival,” The Argus, Fremont, California, April 19
  2. ^ Cowan, Peter, “It’s Jazz, Jazz, Jazz at Berkeley,” Oakland Tribune, April 5, 1975, p. 12-E
  3. ^
  4. ^ Byron “Rocky” Davis, reminded the editor in a personal communication, March 2, 2017
  5. ^ “De Anza Band Wins Jazz Fest,” Oakland Tribune, April 8, 1975
  6. ^ Golden, Leslie (May 17, 1968), “Jazz Enthusiasts Organize Big, New ‘ASUC Ensembles’”, The Daily Californian, 198, 38, p. 1

External links

Template:University of California, Berkeley