ASMAC’S Post-Pandemic Return to Catalina Jazz Club with Special Guest Chris Walden

30 July 2023

ASMAC Luncheon with Chris Walden, hosted by President Gayle Levant, 26 July 2023. Photo credit: Milton Nelson.

More than 50 ASMAC members and friends gathered on Wednesday, 26 July 2023, for its first post-pandemic luncheon at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood; ASMAC had monthly luncheons there for years and members were pleased to be back again to enjoy a meal, networking, and presentation. Most ASMAC events during the past two years have been virtual (on Zoom), and although they have attracted a devoted international participation, members in the Southern California area have missed the comradery and Catalina’s fine cooking.

Award-winning arranger and composer Chris Walden, a past ASMAC President, was interviewed by current President Gayle Levant about his background and his latest project, the Pacific Jazz Orchestra (PJO). The 40-piece orchestra will present its first season in 2023–2024, with funding from the Herb Alpert Foundation. The ensemble includes a full jazz big band plus a string section. Several high-quality video clips from an April showcase performance of the orchestra were shown. Walden is the artistic and executive director of this new non-profit venture told the audience that he is establishing this orchestra because he wants to “sculpt his own sound.” The concerts, which will be filmed and recorded, “will reach far beyond the boundaries of jazz, as it will feature pop music, R&B, hip hop, Americana, and music from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and much more.”  They hope to expand to provide educational opportunities for young musicians, composers, and arrangers. Visit their website at for complete details.

Walden, who came to Los Angeles from Germany in 1996, has worked with many artists including Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, Paul McCartney, Diana Krall, Aretha Franklin, Rihanna, Seal, Barbra Streisand, John Legend, Herb Alpert, and many more. He has been the lead arranger at the Oscars, the Kennedy Center Honors, and has conducted the LA Phil, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Metropole Orkest, Boston Pops, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, WDR Big Band Cologne and many more.

We look forward to hosting another in-person ASMAC Luncheon later in 2023 and hope to see you there.

Watch the Luncheon here (first minute is silent):

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