About the Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center

Welcome to the 

Des Moines Community Jazz Center 

Welcome to the CJC Website.    Here you can learn about the grass-roots JAZZ organization that was founded over 30 years ago.   This website contains history of the CJC, information about many of Des Moines' jazz heroes that have been recognized, contact information for jazz instructors and a complete calendar of local jazz events.   We hope you can utilize this to learn about the mission of the Community Jazz Center!   

 Long-time volunteer Abe Goldstien took over the reins of the organization in August of 2017 and has big plans to expand the profile of the CJC within the community.  You many contact Abe at abegold1951@gmail.com. 

The Community Jazz Center has been closely monitoring the recent developments concerning the spread of COVID-19 and the global health crisis that this has created. There is unanimous agreement that the priority has to be the health and safety of our community and the latest guidelines issued by the CDC that restrict the number of attendees at events has made it necessary for The CJC to POSTPONE this wonderful event. Stay tuned for an announcement with the new date.



Long before the impact of redlining and the construction of I-235, Center Street (between 10th and 15th) was the epicenter of Des Moines’ black community. During the day, people would visit the many shops that dotted the district. At night, the sound of jazz would permeate the air.

In celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month and the Undesign The Redline exhibit, the Community Jazz Center of Greater Des Moines and Polk County Housing Trust Fund will recapture “The Jazz of Center Street” on April 19, 2 PM at Franklin Junior High in Des Moines (48th & Franklin).

The concert will feature the following musicians paying tribute to this important part of Des Moines’  jazz history:

•           Frank Perowsky, a 1953 Roosevelt High grad frequented Center Street in his youth, where he learned the craft of jazz from players on the scene, and had the opportunity to jam with and listen to major jazz artists of the time who were visiting the district. Frank is currently a saxophonist, bandleader and arranger living in New York City.

•           Organist Sam Salomone, a fixture of the Des Moines scene, worked at several clubs on Center Street in the 1960s, being there the evening Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

•           Dartanyan Brown, bassist and educator, whose father, Ellsworth Brown, was a major figure on the Center Street scene in the 1940s and 1950s.

•           Vocalist Tina Haase-Findlay will perform the music associated with vocalist/pianist Irene Myles, who played at Center Street clubs.

•           Pianist/vocalist Scott Smith will pay homage to pianist Speck Redd, the “dean” of Des Moines  piano players.

•           The CJC Big Band, featuring CJC Jazz Hall of Fame recipients, will honor the sounds of the big bands that performed on Center Street.

•           The CJC Youth Combo, comprised of area high school students, will demonstrate that the jazz tradition of Des Moines is alive and well today. 

In addition to the musical performances, members of the community will be invited to share their memories of Center Street.

There is a suggested donation of $10.00 for the event, with funds supporting the Community JazzCenter’s youth and jazz history activities.

About the Community Jazz Center (CJC) — Started in the late 1980s, the focus of the CJC is to honor the past, present and future of Des Moines jazz. Run entirely by volunteers, the CJC sponsors monthly jam sessions for middle to high school students, monthly performances of the CJC Big Band, the annual CJC Jazz Hall of Fame ceremony, jazz workshops and festivals for students, as well as the Jazz Appreciation Month festival. For more information, visit www.dmjazzcommunitycenter.org.

About Polk County Housing Trust Fund and Undesign The RedlineThe Polk County Housing Trust Fund is the comprehensive planning, advocacy and funding organization for affordable housing in Polk County, Iowa. Undesign the Redline is a nationally acclaimed interactive exhibit on display at Franklin Junior High. The exhibit documents the history of Des Moines’ core neighborhoods through pictures, maps, timelines and stories of its residents. Undesign The Redline is intended to inform and compel future policies that support equitable housing. For more information, visit pchtf.org.


The 19th Annual CJC Hall Of Fame will be an evening of musical tributes to those that have dedicated their their lives to JAZZ IN DES MOINES.   Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 22 and stay tuned for more information coming soon!

Come early for a wonderful optional meal provided by Tangerine Food Company!    For only $15, you can dine with other jazz fans at NOCE between 5 and 6pm.  Cash Bar Available. 


Garden Salad (Mixed greens, chef's choice chopped vegetables)

Chicken Arrabiata (Sauteed chicken breast in a savory tomato sauce)

Baked Ziti (Ziti, bechamel sause, tomato sause roasted vegetables, mozzarella and ricotta cheese)

Bread Basket (Focaaccia and ciabatta)  


Visit this site frequently for updated information and jazz schedules in Des Moines.  Read more below to learn about the CJC! 

CJC Jam Sessons at Java Joe's are the first Sunday of every month from 2:00 - 4:00.  FREE!


The CJC was formed by Willie Thomas, a nationally known trumpet player, in March of 1988. Its mission was to provide young musicians an opportunity to interact and share their gifted talents with area students. Since the departure of Mr. Thomas, the CJC has thrived under the leadership of Phyllis Leaverton.

The main objective of the CJC is to provide young musicians an opportunity to develop their talents and enjoy music in a non-competitive environment. The structured monthly jam sessions are beneficial in this way - to both student musicians and professional musicians alike.

Over the years, CJC has maintained a regular monthly jam session on the first Sunday of every month at Java Joe's Coffeehouse in downtown Des Moines (214 4th Street). The CJC Big Band also performs there on the third Sunday of every month.

- CJC Big Band -

The CJC sponsors an annual Junior High Jazz Festival and also the CJC Honor Bands which provide valuable experience for young musicians with an interest in Jazz.

Every October since 2001, the CJC sponsors the CJC Jazz Hall Of Fame and Special Recognition Awards (click "Hall of Fame above). This is an impressive evening that pays tribute to important long-time musicians, educators and promoters in the Des Moines area.

The CJC intends to be the source for JAZZ infomation in Des Moines. More and more young people in Des Moines are discovering this important American ART form and the CJC is here to help promote local JAZZ in Des Moines! Please feel free to contact us with questions or suggestions.

You can become a supporter of the Community Jazz Center!

Click to make a Tax Deductible donations to CJC.

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LOOKING for a teacher to help improve your instrumental technique or learn jazz theory?  Are you an instructor seeking more students?  The CJC would once again like to help assist you in this area by posting potential musical instruction online.  (We did this on our earlier website and would like to add it once again.)

If you are in instructor, please email jkrantz978@aol.com with you name, type of musical instruction and contact information.  We will post it below as a service of the CJC.




Private instruction:  Trumpet  (all levels and styles) , Jazz Improvisation (beginner through intermediate).  Contact:  bbergren1728@msn.com or 515.669.6331


Private drum lessons at Uptempo Music in Beaverdale.  Email  chbowerman@gmail.com or phone Uptempo Music.

My lesson is at Uptempo Music in Beaverdale and can also be reached there. 

CREATIVE MUSIC STUDIO - Jazz Academy - Susie Miget

A complete resource for jazz instruction in all instruments - jazz theory, combo, instrument techniques, classes and private instruction.  Phone:  515-224-5959cmsjazz@gmail.comwww.cmsjazz.com                                                     

     Faculty:  Susie Miget, Don Jaques, John Kizilarmut and Dave Rezek


Private instruction: Trombone, Jazz Improvisation.  Lessons taught at The Turner Jazz Center                             Contact:  Paul@paulbridson.com or 515.360.3023

Paul works at a teaching artist at Drake University and has performed with the Des Moines Big Band since 1994.


Private instruction:   Jazz Guitar.   Email Austin at aubrown.ab@gmail.com or phone 515.360.5453.


Instruction on all styles of drumset.  E-mail Mark at drumnqb@hotmail.com or phone 515.210.2086

JASON KLOBNAK (CJC alum living in Denver)

Trumpet instruction and jazz improvisation coaching available through Skype.  In addition to 1-on-1 instruction in person and online, Jason has published two different jazz impov text.  

Contact:  Jason at jason@jasonklobnak.com or 303.829-1923.  Visit his website at http://jasonklobnak.com


Trumpet Techniques and Jazz Improvisation, beginner through advanced.  Faculty at Creative Music Studio, Teaching Artist at Drake University.  Phone:  515-422-4151 or email daverezek@hotmail.com.  Web:   http://www.daverezekmusic.com/


Jazz and classical piano instruction. Also, jazz theory and improvisation. Contact Peter at proberts52186@gmail.com or phone him at (563) 920-3033 for details.