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Pacific Coast Jazz Festival
The Pacific Coast (Collegiate) Jazz Festival was one of the collegiate jazz festivals of the American Collegiate Jazz Festival. After years of residence on the campus of Cal State Northridge, it had its greatest influence at the University of California, Berkeley, where its activities were coordinated by student and staff members of the University of California Jazz Ensembles under the direction of Dr. David W. Tucker.
Following the trips by the Wednesday Night Band to the Northridge Jazz Festival and the renowned Reno Jazz Festival, Tucker embarked on hosting the UC Jazz Ensembles own collegiate jazz festival. The Pacific region festival, which had been hosted by Cal State Northridge in Northridge, California, was part of the American College Jazz Festival, which existed from 1967 to 1973. When the jazz group at Cal State Northridge opted to discontinue their being host, Tucker volunteered to assume the hosting responsibilities on the U.C. Berkeley campus.
The logistical, funding, and planning demands were substantial, but beginning in 1974, the UC Jazz Ensembles began to annually sponsor the Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival or PCCJF. The guest artist for this first festival was flutist Hubert Laws. At the Saturday night awards and concert presentation, the Wednesday Night Band was augmented with additional French horns, strings, harp, and other instruments in their performance with Laws.
The PCCJF, as the other festivals of the American College Jazz Festival, was a competitive gathering for big bands, combos, and jazz vocal ensembles. Because it also came to include high school bands, it was later renamed the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival.
In addition to the student officers of UC Jazz, an entire slate of officers was created to administer the PCCJF. Both slates were guided by Tucker.
The PCCJF provided multiple venues on the University of California campus over several days for adjudicated performances, culminating in an awards ceremony on Saturday night in Zellerbach Auditorium, clinics led by the adjudicators and guest artists, and a performance at the awards ceremony by guest artists performing with the Wednesday Night Band.
Among the adjudicators has been Dr. Herb Wong, associated with the UC Jazz Ensembles since its beginning. He also supports alumni of the program, providing, for example, liner notes for their recordings
The PCCJF proved to be an effective recruitment tool for U.C. Berkeley, with many high school musicians who performed at the PCCJF later matriculating on the U.C. Berkeley campus. Such include pianist Michael Wolff, saxophonist former Associate Director Dave Le Febvre, and first trumpet Paul Giorsetto. Other high school musicians obtained recognition at the PCCJF, including trumpeter Jon Faddis from Pleasant Hill High School and vocalist Barbara Garcia from South San Francisco High School.
Over the years guest artists at the PCCJF have included numerous jazz luminaries. These include tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins (1977), trumpeter Freddy Hubbard, flutist Hubert Laws (1974), Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy, pianist Patrice Rushen, pianist Bill Evans, pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, trombonist Bill Watrous, the Toshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin Big Band, alto saxophonist Richie Cole, who also performed with the band at the Rio Vista Jazz Festival in the 1970s, vocalist Bobby McFerrin (1982), bassist Christian McBride (1997), saxophonist Joe Lovano (also 1997), trumpeter Jon Faddis (1998), trombonist Slide Hampton (also 1998), bassist Jimmy Heath (also 1998!), saxophonist Michael Brecker (1999), pianist Chick Corea, and saxophonist Joe Henderson.
In the 2000s, it was decided that the PCCJF required manpower that was no longer available among the staff and members, underscoring the value of the motivational skills, ambition, and dedication of Tucker. In addition, the financial support of the See Candies corporation was discontinued after its buyout by Berkshire Hathaway Corp. and its decision to decline continued sponsorship. The last student-run festival was held on the Berkeley campus in that decade.