President’s Message


Blue Jay Jazz Festival welcomes music fans back to the mountains.
Summer 2023

Chris Levister
Blue Jay Jazz Foundation – President

Dear Friends:

Congress designated jazz music as “a rare and valuable national treasure” in 1997. They had no idea how right they were. Jazz is America’s music it inspires common human feelings and bridges gaps between cultures that spoken languages cannot. It is an improvisational art, making itself up as it goes along. It is forever changing, always a velocity of celebration.

I am a lover of music, all genres. It lifts the spirit, brings joy and peace. It warms the soul. My life has been profoundly shaped by the power of connection that music offers. Whether it’s the friendships, cultural enrichment and joy of fan applause during the Blue Jay Jazz Festival or watching a high school trumpeter honing her skills, striving towards her ambitions, jazz is a spicy gumbo national, original and real.

Since the inception of the all-volunteer nonprofit Blue Jay Jazz Foundation in 2007, my interest in jazz  has deepened each year as I have witnessed the fruitful outcomes of our jazz music appreciation mission and watched our commitment to music education in our schools grow year after year.

Many of our ‘Future Generation Jazz’ scholars are recognized on the local, national and international stage. BJJF scholar and Rim High School graduate, Jeff Gumpertz, played French horn with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He believes musician quality and skills are critical to success.

“When you go to see a show, all you see is musicians doing what they love – play music. What you don’t see is the hard work required to get there. It’s an incredible responsibility being a musician. We have people’s emotions in our hands.”

Mark your calendars for a star studded Blue Jay Jazz Festival, August 24, 25 and 26, 2023.  Don’t miss the return of Grammy Award Nominated Cajun, Zydeco fiddler Lisa Haley and the Zydekats, Cal Baptist University Jazz Ensemble, 2022 “Jazz Group of the Year” nominee, Lao Tizer Band featuring Grammy Award saxophone sensation Eric Marienthal, plus Emmy and Grammy Award winning keyboardist George Whitty, Friends and surprise guests.

JASS, JASZ, JAZZ, – the drummer Art Blakely liked to say, “washes away the dust of everyday life.”

Come on out… join us for a “velocity of celebration”

Chris Levister
Blue Jay Jazz Foundation