In the News -
Friday, APRIL 7, 2006
Sierra Jazz Band
The High Sierra Jazz Band, like the mountain range that has
inspired their playing, is as rock solid as granite. Like a Three Rivers
version of the Energizer Bunny, these boys in the band just keep going
and going and going some more at an unbelievable pace that has lasted
for more than three decades.
Last week, it was cruising the Amazon in South America with
Jazzdagen Tours. This week, it’s hosting Jazzaffair and introducing
their new trumpet player Corey Gemme to arguably the best small-venue
jazz festival on the planet.
To hear Corey Gemme (pronounced Jem, as in a real
gem), a Los Angeles native, tell the story, it’s like he has been
rehearsing all his musical life for the opportunity to find a band like
High Sierra. That chance came late last year when Bryan Shaw, High Sierra’s
former trumpet player, stepped aside after six years to save his hearing
and also to spend more time playing dad to demanding teens.
Shaw, in addition to his performing, also plies his musical
trade mixing CDs in his Costa Mesa studio. He will continue to record
his High Sierra brethren on upcoming CDs.
His work on Stampede, HSJB’s 2005 and most recent release
that some say is the purest sounding of all of the group’s 22 recordings
is ample testimony to his auditory genius.
But blowing all that righteous horn is bound to take its
toll and Shaw, who the New York Times recently called one of the best
trumpets of his generation, for the time being will take a hiatus from
playing. Also, conspicuously absent from the 33rd annual jazz bash in
Kaweah Country is another renowned trumpet player — the venerable
Smith, as former leader and a founding member of High Sierra
(1976-1998), is legendary among West Coast jazzmen. His decision to step
aside was as painful personally as to his legion of fans inspired by Al’s
stage presence and his distinctive playing.
In recent years, his return to the Jazzaffair stage on Thursday
nights and his addition to the horn extravaganza of Sunday’s finale
at Lions Arena will certainly go down among the annals of all-time festival
Enter Corey Gemme, who like the proverbial kid in Reimer’s
Candy Store, relishes becoming part of the High Sierra tradition.
couldn’t be more thrilled to be playing my very first Jazzaffair,”
Corey said from his home in the Hollywood Hills. “I am really looking
forward to seeing all my new friends in Three Rivers and playing with
those great musicians.”
Though High Sierra’s 42-year-old trumpeter is still
an adolescent by traditional jazz standards, he already sports an impressive
resume. He studied music at Pasadena City College and Cal State Los Angeles
where in this modern era the musician can find still find a jazz groove.
While finding his, Corey came under the influence of jazz
icons like Louis Armstrong, Red Nichols, Harry James, Bunny Berigan, and
Bix Beiderbecke. He has played with many jazz outfits, among them the
Hot Frogs, Conrad Janus, Jim Cullum’s Happy Jazz Band, and the Black
Swan Jazz Band.
Gemme still gigs with the Reynolds Brothers and Le Jazz Hot
at Disneyland and Universal Studios. Unlike most players at Jazzaffair,
playing jazz is his day job too. He is the consummate professional and
he’s so busy, he says, that’s part of the reason he’s
guess I just haven’t met the right gal,” Corey says.
As for his playing, Earl McKee of Three Rivers, his bandmate
and also a founding member of High Sierra, said Gemme’s style is
very similar to Bryan Shaw’s.
three of High Sierra’s trumpet players have been very good,”
says Earl. “Al had more of the leader personality, played louder,
and really controlled the audience.”
Bryan Shaw and Corey Gemme, Earl said, play sweeter and with
a very definite style and feeling. Gemme, since he joined the band in
November, has already impressed his mates with his stamina. At a recent
festival in Medford, Ore., Gemme played daily double sessions with two
very fortunate to get such a strong player who can step right up and play
with High Sierra,” Earl says.
The biggest challenge for Gemme, he said, is learning all
the old High Sierra songs that their “rowdy fans” always want
to hear. There are no charts for that music so Gemme has been listening
to the band’s early recordings to learn his parts.
So what’s it like playing with living jazz legends?
awesome playing with that rhythm section between those two horns,”
Corey said. “I just melt right in and go along for the ride. I feel
like I’m floating out there as part of a well-oiled machine. Wow!”
For the past six years, and for so many of the early years
nobody can remember back that far, Sue Mills, longtime manager of the
High Sierra Jazz Band, also served as the director of Jazzaffair. Mills
finally got her wish to retire again, so this year Mary Scharn assumed
Jazz fans and club members know all about Mary’s affair
with jazz. For years, she has hosted musicians at her Three Rivers residence
and, of course, her popular kick-off parties on the Thursday before.
During Jazzaffair and club concert dates, Mary has often
led a second line or two and on occasion performed an Irish tabletop jig.
But many do not know that Mary’s knowledge of jazz festivals goes
back to the granddaddy of them all – The Newport Jazz Festival on
the East Coast.
worked with all the great bands and musicians in the 1950s,” Mary
recalled. “It’s so important to attend the other festivals
and bring in new talent.”
Mary, who refers to her position as “Coordinator,”
has scheduled what may be one of the best lineups ever assembled in Three
couldn’t do it without my jazz supporters who make this all possible,”
Mary says. “I let them know what it will take to book a group and
they make it happen.”
Mary is heading up a throng of more than a hundred volunteers
who work the entire weekend to ensure that Jazzaffair is the very best
it can be.
a delegater,” Mary said, “and it’s no secret that the
volunteers and the Three Rivers school kids are what makes this such a
After several stormy years, it appears that the 2006 Jazzaffair
has dodged a perennial bullet. Incredible as it may seem, there is only
a 20 percent chance of rain and that’s on Sunday.
Old Man Winter has been relentless this spring and scored
a direct hit earlier this week. In the Three Rivers environs there were
a few slides and trees down, but the damage pales in comparison to what
so many other regions of the country have experienced recently.
In Kaweah Country, the above average precipitation has translated
to some of the best air quality in a decade and prospects for another
impressive spring-summer runoff season. Currently, that runoff is set
up quite nicely in a monster snowpack that ranges from depths of 100 inches
at 8,000 feet to more than double that above 10,000 feet in elevation.
The snowpack in the Kaweah drainage as of April 1, the benchmark
for the annual rainfall season that ends June 30, is more than 130 percent
of normal. The early April storms have added even more to these already
As of April 6, there is a snowpack of 99 inches at Lodgepole
located in Sequoia National Park at 6,700 feet. The warm rains earlier
in the week had water pooling on top of the pack before freezing solid
on Tuesday night (April 4).
That icier layer that now exists at several places in the
stratigraphy guarantees that this snowpack will be reluctant to melt.
That means an extended season for downstream recreation and its ultimate
users –farmers and ranchers.
A little closer to Three Rivers, Bob Meadows reports that
the recent storms from April 2 to 5 dumped 5.10 inches of rainfall at
his home just above the Hammond Fire Station at an elevation of 1,450
feet. That brings his season total to a whopping 34.76 inches.
At the 1,000 ft. elevation in Three Rivers, the season total
is at or slightly above 25 inches; the same total recorded for all of
last season. But local totals are a drop in bucket when compared to Mammoth
Mountain on the Sierra’s east side.
At Mammoth, above 8,000 feet, there is currently a pack approaching
20 feet in some areas. The snowfall total for the season is 610 inches,
an all-time record amount.
The National Park Service has closed the case on the death
of Santos Teixeira, 56, of Porterville, finding insufficient evidence
of criminal activity.
On Nov. 20, 2005, Teixeira fell to his death from Moro Rock
in Sequoia National Park.
For the original news article about the incident, go to :
Scenic highway highlights
This week, Tom Sparks, spokesperson for the Three Rivers
Village Foundation, released the agenda for the upcoming Town Hall Meeting
and it has something of interest for everyone. Highlighting the program
at the Three Rivers Memorial Building will be an update on the Foundation’s
efforts to officially designate 16 miles of Highway 198 as the Kaweah
there are questions or concerns on how the scenic highway program will
work, now is the time to speak up and be heard,” Sparks said.
Sparks said that county staff and Caltrans have completed
a preliminary review of the Foundation’s assessment and they concur
with the document’s findings. After brief remarks by representatives
of both agencies, there will be an opportunity for questions and discussion
from the audience.
Supervisor Allen Ishida, who is also on the agenda, will
introduce Tulare County’s new fire chief, Steve Sunderland. Chief
Sunderland will address plans for coverage of Three Rivers during the
upcoming fire season.
Supervisor Ishida, who recently returned from a lobbying
trip to Washington, D.C., will have updates on several fronts, including
details as to how the Community Services District will function as the
local lead on the new Three Rivers playground to be developed at the library.
Funding for that project is expected by summer with construction scheduled
for the fall.
The meeting will conclude with a presentation by Craig Axtell,
Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks superintendent. Axtell will report
on the latest NPS developments and park plans for the summer season.
Sparks said he hopes to conclude by 8:30 p.m. so there will
be time for refreshments and some one-on-one conversations. Any inquiries
about Foundation business or the upcoming meeting should be addressed
to Tom Sparks, 561-0406.
‘Spring Feast’ is a
of chefs and artists
Fine art, grand scenery, great food — this year’s
“Spring Feast in the Sierra” (April 28 and 29) has it all.
Sponsored by the Sequoia Fund to raise funds for Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks, the annual event will feature some Sierra-Nevada-related
art from California artists, including Zee Zee Mott, Ray Strong (age 100),
and Tom Killion, and special talks by several of these artists, silent
and live auctions, a raffle, and a gourmet banquet.
And all of this takes place at the beautiful Wuksachi Lodge
in Sequoia National Park.
focus on art is what’s new this year,” said Bette Bardeen
of Three Rivers, Sequoia Fund board chair. “We’re really excited
by the quality and depth of what we have to offer.”
Art events associated with this year’s Spring Feast
include an artists’ reception Friday, April 28, from 5 to 7 p.m.,
and artists’ presentations Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Concurrently, art from more than 20 painters, sculptors, and photographers,
including several Three Rivers artists will be for sale, with 50 percent
of the proceeds going to the Sequoia Fund for the benefit of Sequoia and
Kings Canyon National Parks.
Culminating the two-day event is the Saturday night banquet.
Using the best of Central California’s natural bounty, this year’s
banquet will once again be prepared and presented by a team of chefs brought
in by Wuksachi Lodge operator Delaware North Companies from their California
properties, which include the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park
and Asilomar on the Monterey Peninsula.
expect the banquet to sell out,” said Bette. “People who would
like to support the parks but are unable to attend the dinner should consider
attending the artists’ reception or the art sale or buy raffle tickets.”
Raffle prizes include a package of two weekends — one
at Asilomar and one at Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite — and two beautiful
pieces of art. Raffle tickets are currently for sale in Three Rivers at
Whitewater Contemporary Arts and Crafts.
Major event sponsors are Delaware North Companies and Beverly
Braun; contributing sponsors include Century 21 Three Rivers, Bank of
the Sierra, and Visalia Community Bank; and associate sponsors are Marilyn
and Byron Riegel and Carol and Tom Chess.
For more information, visit the Kaweah Kalendar page on this
site, contact the Sequoia Fund at (559) 561-3546, or visit www.sequoiafund.org.
Bud Stuart, Kaweah Country native,
volunteer, past president of jazz club
1919 ~ 2006
William “Bud” Stuart, a former resident of Three
Rivers, died Sunday, April 2, 2006. He was 86.
Bud was born in Lemon Cove and was raised in Three Rivers
and Ash Mountain. He graduated from Exeter Union High School and during
the 1930s, worked seasonally in Sequoia and General Grant (now Kings Canyon)
In 1940, he took an engineering job in Silicon Valley. He
retired as a manager after 43 years.
During the 1940s, he also served a two-year tour of duty
in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in the Asiatic Pacific during World
War II as a technician on an electronic-repair ship.
On June 3, 1944, Bud married the former Dorothy Self in Exeter.
Dorothy was raised in Lemon Cove.
The couple resided in Millbrae in northern California and
raised their family there. Upon Bud’s retirement in 1982, the couple
returned to Three Rivers.
Bud was a past president of the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club
and longtime Jazzaffair volunteer. For two decades, Bud and Dorothy were
avid fans of the High Sierra Jazz Band and enjoyed traveling with the
Bud was also a former president of the Three Rivers Memorial
District board, a senior officer of the local VFW Post 3939, and former
membership chair and zone chairman of the Three Rivers Lions Club.
In July 2004, Bud was preceded in death by his wife of 60
years, Dorothy. Shortly thereafter, he relocated to San Mateo to be near
He is survived by two sons, Larry Stuart and wife Cynthia
of Millbrae and Darrell Stuart and wife Karrie of Utah; 10 grandchildren;
two great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and extended family
A service was held Thursday, April 6, at Evans-Miller Exeter