The Valley Line: Muse/ique celebrates women in jazz

This past weekend I felt like autumn was trying very hard — at last — to get a foothold in our community. Last Saturday heavy gray clouds hung overhead and a brisk breeze sent fallen leaves playing tag down the street.

Basically, I'm just done with 90-degree weather in November so I was thrilled to shiver in the morning as I sipped my coffee.

As you know, the autumn social scene has been more than buzzing. It is hard to keep up with it all. Now I just need to jot it all down for you, so here goes.

A week ago Monday, Muse/ique presented its Uncorked musical series called “Girl/Band — Breaking the Brass Ceiling.” The event was held at the Avon Distribution Center in Pasadena.

Rachael Worby, conductor and music director of Muse/ique, spotlighted female jazz musicians. As concertgoers arrived they were entertained by students of a jazz combo from Westridge School.

The program at Avon, itself long a symbol of female empowerment, opened with a screening of the acclaimed award-winning documentary film, “The Girls in the Band, “ which traces the history of women jazz artists from the 1930s through present day, exposing sexism and racism faced by the immensely talented women who broke through primarily male music bastions. The film is a compelling look at female musicians and is very well done with lots of tongue-in-cheek humor. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Worby introduced the film's directors/producers Judy Chaikin and Nancy Kissock. They in turn introduced 86-year-old Roz Cron, a fiery red-head who was an alto sax player in the famed International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the first integrated all women's band in the U.S. that began in the 1940s.

After the film, the female group Maiden Voyage All-Stars played great jazz.

Muse/ique is quickly becoming known for its nonconforming, daring programming and it certainly was evident in its recent inaugural fundraising gala that began at Pasadena's Del Mar Metro Station with signature cocktails and great jazz music. The gala raised $170,000.

One hundred guests entered the private metro cars that took them to L.A.'s Union Station while being serenaded by the Moon Rays, a barbershop quartet. Once at the station the guests were directed to the historic Harvey House that was designed by Mary Colter and built in 1939 — the last of Fred Harvey's collection of 84 railway restaurants stretching from Kansas to California. Only the legendary Harvey Girls were missing to serve the family-style dinner. Throughout the evening there were more musical surprises.

The “Rail-Bound Sound — The Gold Line Gala” was a most unique fundraising event and certainly one that shouldn't be missed next year.


An autumn festival was celebrated when the La Cañada Flintridge Stardusters, a La Cañada Flintridge-based dance group joined the Alaroma Dance Club, based in the San Gabriel Valley, for an evening of dining and dancing at the University Club in Pasadena.

Cathy and Pete Palermo were the dance chairs and they were assisted by Grace and Dave Cashion.

Starduster presidents Virginia and Michael Karsch chose the autumn theme for the first official joint gathering by the two venerable dinner dance groups.

Live music and fine dining attracted 26 couples to the dance floor with the music provided by Murray Middleman and his Park Avenue West Band.

Among the guests were Gloria D'Olarte and Art Rothberg, Louise and Edward Delaney, Geraldine and Carson English, Marlene and Robert Evans, Michelle and Keith Wier, Susan and Barry Franzen, Marion and Paul Greene, Kitty and John Gurash, Pat and Dennis Hethrington, Shirley and David Hickman, Susan and Jim Holland, Jeanne and Bob Jenkins, Stefi and Kent Kuster.

More dancers were John and Diane Landrum, Mike and Hui Lisano, Jim Mramor and Edie Askew, Barbara and Tony Phillips, Rosemary and Bob Risley, Gigi and Jim Schlueter, Judy and Bob Snyder, John and Barbara Stocky, Frank Osmon and Joanne Stebenne, and Fred Vaquer and Robbie Green.


JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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