Many thanks to those who joined us for the first annual Bill Douglass & Nora Nausbaum Jazz Picnic in Pioneer Park! It was an memorable evening and your presence helped make it a success!
The Sierra Jazz Society was created in 2003 by Bill Douglass & Nora Nausbaum. Dedicated to Jazz education, presentation and promotion in Nevada County and the surrounding areas, the SJS has had a profound effect on the local music scene and we’re excited to keep the tradition alive AND honor our former artistic director & founder with this new tradition.
Bill Douglass grew up in Nevada County and made a name for himself on the San Francisco music scene. In a career spanning decades, Bill played with many of the jazz greats including Marian McPartland, Mose Allison, Bobby McFerrin, and Tom Waits, among many others. Bill has recorded over 100 albums and performed on many film and TV scores including The Black Stallion, Disney’s Never Cry Wolf, 1,000 Pieces of Gold, and National Geographic Specials.
After completing her masters in Music at Boston’s New England Conservatory Nora Nausbaum taught at Northern Michigan University and Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. Nora is currently performing with the Amaryllis Trio and is active in the jazz community while maintaining her private teaching practice.
Clairdee has collaborated with some of America’s most celebrated jazz masters. Soulful, swinging, stylish, and with a gift for immediate rapport with her audience. San Francisco-based jazz singer Clairdee embodies the tradition’s twinned legacy of standing for social justice with glamor and guts. “In the tradition of all great vocalists,” said legendary vocalist Nancy Wilson, Clairdee “infuses each song with her own unique style while always remaining true to the song itself.” Her latest album, A Love Letter to Lena, is a deeply personal celebration of the iconic star Lena Horne.
Beth Duncan’s first recording, ’Orange Colored Sky’ established Beth as one of Northern California’s leading jazz vocalists and her 2012 follow-up ‘Comes the Fall’ debuted on the national radio at #26 right below Diana Krall, brought her international recognition, and won an Independent Music Award. More than her beautiful voice, Beth’s vocal interpretations maintain a strong undercurrent of love for life and joyful celebration for her art.
Bassist Ruth Davies’ discography includes several platinum and Grammy-winning CDs with jazz and blues greats. Ruth got her start with blues legend Charles Brown and has performed and recorded with Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Maria Muldaur, Keb’ Mo, Jimmy Witherspoon, Vassar Clements, Toots Thielemans, Ernie Watts, Jackie Ryan, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, among many others. Ruth currently plays with Elvin Bishop.
Pianist Ken French has been performing jazz piano professionally for many decades on the San Francisco scene and as far a field as Japan and the Atlantic seaboard. A compelling soloist, thoughtful accompanist, dynamic ensemble leader, and sought after arranger, Ken is a very busy man as in addition to being accompanist, arranger and musical director with Clairdee,
John Girton is well known throughout the world for his work as lead guitarist with the group “Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks.” John recorded 3 albums with the group, and also wrote and arranged material for them. He was also featured as guitarist, saxophonist, clarinetist, and occasional mandolinist with the popular vocalist, Maria Muldaur for many years. John is an instrumentalist, vocalist, recording artist, studio musician, and composer. His original songs are a mixture of jazz, swing, blues and folk music, with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.
Kit Bailey loves rhythm. Initially drumming in a Scottish bagpipe band at age 11, he subsequently joined school wind ensembles, theater- and ballet pit-orchestras, and symphonic groups, performing with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Newark-Fremont Philharmonic Society, Santa Barbara Symphony, Music in the Mountains, InConcert Sierra, and Sierra Stages. Drum set being the instrument of choice for big bands, jazz combos, and the occasional rock group, Kit (his nickname long before he could play one) finally got to sit down to play. When he moved in 1988 to Nevada County, with its thriving Congolese and West African dance communities, he was inspired to look “upstream” into African drumming’s influence on North American music (of all varieties), Brazilian percussion, Afro-Caribbean drumming, and even many of the rhythms he first discovered in that bagpipe band. Anyone can play percussion, and every time we play any instrument, we go deeper—endlessly, it seems. Kit looks forward to resuming performing and teaching again, post-pandemic.
David Clouse began his career playing with Ron Crotty from the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Terrell Eaton from Bonnie Raitt, and spent several years teaching, playing, and touring through-out the United States. Since 2012 David has been living in Nevada County and performs extensively with a long list of people that includes Bill Douglass, Achilles Wheel, Ralph Hammer (from Stevie Wonder), and Dream and the Dreamer, among others.
Saxophonist Matt Langley recently relocated to Nevada City from southern Maine. Though he studied briefly with Lou Marini, David Baker, Ted Dunbar, and Stan Strickland, most of Matt’s education has come on the bandstand. He has recorded extensively with the Charlie Kolhlhase Quintet, his own group Color, with pianist Pandelis Karayorgis’ group System of 5, and with Mike Effenberger’s weirdturnpro. Mr. Langley has also shared the stage or recording studio with Ron Carter, Richie Cole, Fred Hersch, John Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood, Matt Wilson, Tiger Okoshi, Roswell Rudd, Dave Douglas and many others.
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