San Jose Jazz Bands

by Robbie Schlosser · 22 comments

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.
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San Jose Jazz Bands are tasty morsels in the musical smorgasbord you’ll find in Silicon Valley.  We live in a very culturally diverse area, packed with musical entertainment to please every taste.

I recently wrote a quick survey of the history of San Francisco jazz bands.  Less is known about the early history of jazz bands in San Jose,  At least, according to information available on the internet.  When jazz burst upon the scene in the 1920s (”The Jazz Age”) it quickly became the nation’s popular music.

I imagine people in the San Jose area enjoyed jazz bands playing all over town.  Just like in cities across the country, jazz bands probably provided excitement and entertainment, especially in hotels, restaurants, saloons (speakeasies until 1933), and private parties.

Old timers in San Jose still remember hearing big bands in the 1930s at the De Anza and Sainte Claire hotels.  A generation later people enjoyed hearing local jazz musicians in places like the Kerosene Club and the Hawaiian Gardens (later called the Italian Gardens).

Until recently, a number of nightclubs, including Lou’s Village and The Garden City, featured name entertainment, including touring jazz musicians.

Where can you find a jazz band playing nearby these days?  Many San Jose bulletin boards and online review services list public appearances, and the San Jose jazz society produces an outstanding annual festival and many educational programs throughout the year. Check their calendar.

A typical San Jose jazz band, the Magnolia Jazz Band, entertains primarily at private events these days, but over the years we’ve held many long-standing public engagements throughout the South Bay.  Sorry to say, some of these establishments are no longer in business, but it’s not our fault!

  • Carl’s Place (Milpitas)
  • The Iron Works (Palo Alto)
  • The Onion Barn (Mountain View)
  • L’Ommies (Palo Alto)
  • St James Hotel (San Mateo)
  • Bourbon Street (Mountain View)
  • Lord John’s Inn (Santa Clara)
  • The Laundry Works (San Jose)
  • Louisiana Territory (Mountain View)
  • Brandon’s (Milpitas)
  • The Embassy Suites (Milpitas)
  • Gervais (Saratoga)

Magnolia Jazz Band in Cupertino  1975Speaking of history, this is the earliest photo of the band, at a Cupertino picnic in 1975.  I’m in the lower right.  Can’t read my mind through all that hair, but I’m probably enjoying one of my first glimmerings of making a living as a musician.  Times change, and we’ve come a long way since then, but Gary Milliken (second row, second from the left) and I still work together.

Bottom Line: Jazz is alive and well in Silicon Valley.  Choose your favorite style, check the online schedules, and catch a live performance of one of dozens of San Jose jazz bands.

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Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Irene Turner

I don’t live in San Jose, but must admit I do love jazz Rob. I spent many years in Chicago, home to great blues and jazz bands and went to venues regularly around the city to listen. Since moving here to Sonoma county I haven’t done as much music hopping…your post has inspired me to add it to my list of must do…more often! Thanks

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Irene.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  Chicago’s a great place to whet your appetite for jazz music, but Sonoma’s not so bad — plenty going on in your territory, and I hope you get opportunities to enjoy some once in a while.
Robbie

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Pat Zahn

I just went to dinner with a friend at Morocco’s in downtown San Jose and there was a jazz duo (is that the correct term – I don’t think band would be appropriate.) I don’t think they always even play together. But I just loved it – it is the perfect dinner music. Except, I knew some of the songs, so I would get distracted and tell my friend she needed to wait, because I wasn’t listening to her – lol, at least I’m honest. I’d love to hear little snippets of your band as part of your blog – just little videos playing at an event might be fun.

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Pat.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  I used to wonder how many musicians the word “band” implied.  Then I heard someone use the term “one-man band”, and I decided the word “band” is appropriate for one or more musicians.  But no fewer.  By the way, let me invite you to enjoy some audio and video of our music on our home page: http://MagnoliaJazz.com. 
Robbie

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Laurie Hurley

Well, you know your craft and market! I am not a big jazz fan and my husband and I rarely go to concerts. I end up at more pop music events with my teenagers, but maybe that will change when they go to college. Good info for jazz enthusiasts in your area!

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Laurie.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  Attending pop music events — oh my!  Who knows where that might lead… Back around the 1920s, some people called jazz “the devil’s music”, and cried out against it, like the critics who were scandalized when Elvis Pelvis burst upon the scene in the 1950s.  But all things eventually become acceptable, even popular.  One of these days you’ll find yourself enjoying some pleasant, accessible music and someone will tell you it’s jazz.  When that happens, please let me know.
Robbie

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Donna McCord

I don’t get out much! so don’t have a lot of exposure to live music while out dining! But I do enjoy good jazz music and love the history behind it. It’s interesting to learn what the local history around jazz is, and I recognize many of the names of places you listed. I enjoyed seeing the photo of you from the past, and that is so great that you are still working with someone from that group after all these years. Your videos are great, Robbie; you are becoming a pro!

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Donna.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  Even if you don’t get out much, you’re bound to enjoy live music every so often, especially if my marketing efforts pay off.  Stay tuned.  And I’m glad my stories about the history add another dimension for you.  Could you tell some interesting stories about the early days of the auto repair business?
Robbie

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Judy Stone-Goldman

My husband is a former jazz musician (along with being an orchestral musician), so of course he loves jazz. I don’t have much experience with it, but I find it fascinating the different styles and histories. I like the old pictures best, I think! They provide such a mood of a different time.

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer
http://www.thereflectivewriter.com/blog/
Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Judy.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  Think about music as a richly expressive activity, and I bet you’ll find a strong parallel with writing — particularly in terms of styles and histories.  By the way, about the old pictures, what strikes me most is the mood created by everyone’s serious, dignified expressions.  When did it become standard for people to smile for the camera?
Robbie

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Julieanne Case

Maybe people travel outside of San Jose for their jazz. Or maybe they just don’t publish it. It’s a secret.

Julieanne Case Always from the heart!

Reconnecting you to your essence, joy, vitality, youth.| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | AgeLoc Skin Care |  Pharmanex Supplements

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Vicki Dello Joio

I rarely get to hear live jazz these days and your posts remind me that I should really get out more. I would love to know how you came to play jazz and your own story about your music…

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Vicki.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  When the time is right, I hope you’ll have an opportunity to get out and enjoy some music somewhere.  Sooner or later someone will call that music “jazz”, and when that happens, please let me know.  On my website there’s a longish article about how I came to be doing what I do.  If you like, read it here http://magnoliajazz.com/robbie-schlosser-of-magnolia-jazz-band-longer-biography.  By the way, I frequently enjoy thinking about your recent comment to me about “getting in the groove and suspending time”.  Thanks!
Robbie

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MeredithJacob

Really interesting reading about the history of jazz in silicone valley.  I love the picture of you taken in 1975. It is really great, especially with one of the musicians with whom you still work. I admire your dedication, persistence and detail of your work, post, and video. 

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Meredith.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  Especially the old photo.  And thanks for complimenting my persistence, etc.  I like to tell people it’s a sign of how desperately I want to avoid a “real” job.  Well, there’s some truth to that, but I believe the real reason I work so hard at everything I do, is that it’s all SO enjoyable.  When the fun ends, that’s when I’ll get a job.
Robbie

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Jaspreet K. Mundeir

I love the historical aspect of your piece.  I’m sure Jazz music rocked many dance floors through the Bay Area.  

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Jaspreet.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  We both think this is what actually happened, so I hope we’re correct.  One of these days, I’ll check in at all the local libraries and historical societies in the South Bay, and find out for sure.  Until then, we’re really just guessing.  In the meantime, have you ever written about the historical aspects of your approach to medicine and health?
Robbie

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Kirk Zacharda

I love live jazz, are there various types? Where would you recommend finding a good Jazz band in San diego. Nice to see you stuck with what is your passion all these years.  Congrats on your video challenge, you appear to be a lot more comfortable in the videos.

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Kirk.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  About jazz in San Diego, I once entertained at an event at the U.S.Grant Hotel, but I’m afraid I’m out of the loop on today’s San Diego jazz bands.  Google should be able to tell you everything you want to know.  Glad to know you’re following your passion, too.  Life’s too short to wait for the “right” time, right?
Robbie

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Brandy Mychals

OMG – I love all that crazy hair! Great info, retrospect and love the photo :-) Have you done a video or post with audio of you playing? I think I’ve only seen video of you talking and would love to see some of you playing… Brandy :-)

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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Brandy.  Glad you enjoyed this post.  You’ll find audio and videos on my website, http://MagnoliaJazz.com.  Hope you enjoy them.  About the hair, I’ve worn a beard since ’68, and by now I wouldn’t feel right without it.  But on my head, the riches are growing sparse.  Like they say, grass doesn’t grow on a playground, right?
Robbie

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Dacey Mathers

Jazz bands sounds great.I am a great fan of Jazz music but sometimes it is not easily find.Thanks for telling more about your band.Your band is really good

Reply

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