Folsom’s Palladio was the venue for two full days of amazing jazz music and talent this past Friday and Saturday. It was the second annual California Jazz Championships that drew a myriad of visitors to town to witness countless captivating performances by some of the finest college and high school jazz bands on the West Coast.

Organized by the local Live Performing Arts Academy (LPAA), a non-profit dedicated to advancing arts education, the event featured over 60 jazz bands from California, Utah, Washington, and more. Bands competed across multiple stages, showcasing their skills in Jazz Big Band, Jazz Choir, and Jazz Combo categories.


The event was entirely free for spectators for both days, and many took advantage of the great entertainment, along with some great deals being offered by select Palladio retailers and restaurants, some of which raised funds for the LPAA. 

Organizers of the event and the leaders of the LPAA are no strangers to Folsom’s love of its talented youth magicians. The event and the non-profit were both founded by Curtis Gaesser, former music director at Folsom High School, and fellow jazz educator Gaw Vang-Williams, who has since taken Gaesser’s position leading the local music program since his retirement.


Modeled after European jazz festivals, the California Jazz Championships returned to Folsom for its second year, this time finding a home at the Palladio. Last year, the event took place in the city’s Historic District, which was home to its annual Spring Arts and Crafts show this weekend. 

The Palladio grounds were well-suited for the format and the layout of the event, providing plenty of room for the multiple stages while keeping the distance between them a short walk for attendees to enjoy the many performances.

Video: Scenes from the 2024 California Jazz Championships at Palladio. Read more and see more photos below.

“The Palladio is the perfect venue for the California Jazz Championships, and we’re so thrilled to welcome the event this year and many more years to come,” said Gloria Wright, General Manager of The Palladio, who was pleased with the turnout for the event that benefited the center’s tenants and introduced many new visitors to the many shops and restaurants it has to offer.


The festivities kicked off on Friday at 9:00 a.m. with performances every 30 minutes across multiple stages until 5:30 p.m. In the evening, attendees were treated to a special ticketed concert featuring The New York Seven, accompanied by guest artists, the LPAA Jazz Ensemble, and Vox Now.

The Friday evening portion of the competition didn’t go without the challenges of Mother Nature as thunder showers rolled into the area for a bit Friday evening. The wet weather didn’t dampen the spirit of the event; however, and Saturday’s perfect weather quickly made up for the dismal dose of dampness.


Saturday’s lineup mirrored Friday’s schedule, with performances beginning at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until 5:30 p.m. The climax of the championship arrived in the form of the finalists’ playoffs shortly after 7 p.m. before the event wrapped up with the awards ceremony.

Finalists that competed on Saturday night included Seattle Academy and Downey High School. Finalists in college jazz choir included St. Mary’s and Las Positas. High School Jazz Band Finalists that advanced to the final playoffs included El Cerrito, Northgate High School, Downey High School, Berkeley High School, and Esperanza High School.

The final Combo Award Performances went to El Cerrito in the High School class and California Jazz Conservatory of Berkeley.

For more information on the California Jazz Championships, including participants, judges and sponsors   visit the official website. For more information on The Palladio, including dining options, shopping opportunities, and more, visit their website at

Event photos by Bill Sullivan, Folsom Times. See all photos available for full resolution download by CLICKING HERE.

Event photos by Bill Sullivan, Folsom Times. See all photos available for full resolution download by CLICKING HERE.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.