[JPL] Age and all that jazz

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Mon Mar 5 09:51:51 EST 2007


Age and all that jazz

Taya Kashuba Gray, The Desert Sun
Dick Broadie, 67, of Palm Springs gestures while leading the jazz jam
session at the Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs.
 Audio gallery: Senior Jazz

Next get-together

What: Jazz show, 323-5689

Richard Guzmán
The Desert Sun
March 4, 2007
Like their audience, most are not exactly in their prime years.
Some walk in slowly, others seem out of breath as they sit down and begin to
assemble their various instruments - saxophones trombones, clarinets and

But after the first notes hit the air, age fades away and jazz takes over.

It's Wednesday morning at the Mizell Senior Center, where Richard Broadie
leads a loose group of rotating musicians dubbed The Vintage Jammers by one

They're in their 70s, 80s and even 90s and perform here every week to the
delight of the music-loving crowd who quickly fill the seats for one of the
hottest jam sessions in town.

"Music sustains you, it keeps you alive. There's almost a magical quality
about it," Broadie says.

At 67, Broadie is not only one of the founding members of the jam session
but usually the youngest musician on stage.

"It gives people something to talk about besides the latest surgeries or the
high cost of medication," he jokes.

"The music takes you back, it makes all of us feel young," says 68-year-old
Linda Birks, a Canadian visiting the desert.

It's her first time at the concert, and she taps her feet to the music for
close to two hours.
Besides the bingo game days, the jam session is one of the most popular
activities at the center, says David Maud, program director for the senior

"It seems to be getting more and more popular," he says.

"We're almost running out of seats."

About 120 people show up every Wednesday to listen to the impromptu jazz
group, where anyone with an instrument, lungs and love of music is welcome
to join in.

The jam sessions started about seven years ago when Broadie and a couple of
other musicians met to talk about jazz.

"We had a cup of coffee and just talked about the old days," says the
musician, who in his career has performed with legends like Frank Sinatra,
Duke Ellington and jazz pianist Teddy Wilson.

"It just snowballed from there," Broadie adds.

The talk quickly turned to music and the friends began playing their
instruments at the senior center.

Now the group swells to more than 20 local musicians who stroll in every
morning ready to recapture the old days.

"Music is my whole life," says 78-year-old Al Apodaca.

The La Quinta saxophone player is a regular contributor to the jam session.

"I don't know what else I would do without music. I would have to stop

Desert Hot Springs clarinet player and singer Jack Davis is another regular
at the jam.

He earned his musical chops playing for the Army Band and as leader of his
own big band.

Music has always been in his genes.

"My parents met in college as members of a dance band. Music is what we did,
I grew up with that," says the 78-year-old.

"Age is mandatory, but maturity is optional," he says, explaining why he
still loves to get on the stage and play.

It takes little prodding to get Davis on the stage.

During a recent performance Broadie easily convinces him to drop the
clarinet and pick up the mic.

"You've been discovered," Broadie tells him.

Without hesitation, Davis jumps up and starts wailing Duke Ellington's song
"Don't Get Around Much Anymore."

The other musicians follow his lead.

As is the tradition with the jam session, there are no planned songs or
music sheets to read from.

Any musician is free to suggest a song, or simply start playing.

The others follow and usually put together a seemingly flawless musical

Every once is a while, a musician here or there will play a wrong note or
two. And that's OK.

"People are having fun together, that's much more important then the quality
of music," Broadie says.

The audience seems to love the spontaneity and even the occasional slip-up
is met with applause.

But Davis' performance goes off without a hitch and he receives a huge
applause from the audience.

He struts back to his seat and picks up his clarinet, ready for wherever the
next tune takes them.

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