Passionate about their vision of creating a unique jazz program for teens, Paul and Chris Romaine founded CCJA in late 1999 as a partnership. Six students registered for the first small group session, where they met weekly during the school year and played and performed in a small jazz group under the guidance of a professional jazz musician mentor. The program continued to grow, and in March of 2003, CCJA became a Colorado Non-profit corporation, and in early 2004 was granted 501 (c)(3) status. The original “Small Group Program” soon expanded to meet in three locations in the Denver Metro area, and there is now an average of 9 youth bands each session, and almost 800 teens have participated in these groups. Along the way, new programming has included two summer camps, a new youth JazzFest, Outreach Programs to schools, expanded public performances, guided public youth jam sessions, a peer mentoring program, and a Recording and Music Industry Program and recording project.
Over the last fifteen years, CCJA groups have performed for tens of thousands of people, with the intention of advancing and preserving America’s treasured art form of jazz through helping enlighten the public about the scope, history, and future possibilities of jazz. All of our programs are directed by accomplished professional jazz musicians, who continue to pass on their extensive knowledge, experience, and wisdom to the next generation. Whether students go on to play professionally or for enjoyment, their lives are enriched by their participation in CCJA’s programs and they develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the art form, most likely carrying this appreciation on into their adult lives.
Chris Romaine, Executive Director
As the Executive Director for CCJA, Ms. Romaine provides executive leadership and manages its daily operations. She wears many hats in this position and relies on a passion for jazz and youth, a varied background, a love of learning, and resourcefulness to do so. Ms. Romaine participates with the Artistic Director, the Board, and the faculty in planning and establishing program policies, objectives, and priorities as well as directing the development of CCJA’s strategic action and fundraising plans.
Ms. Romaine received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Denver, where she also minored in music at the Lamont School of Music. She later received her secondary teaching certification, and taught Social Studies (and some music) in Cherry Creek public schools for five years. Chris was then bit with the entrepreneurial bug she grew up with, and started a tea shop/restaurant/mail order/catering business which she ran with her mother and sister until its sale in 1999. As soon as it was sold, she and Paul decided to give their idea for a jazz education program a try, and CCJA (the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts) was born.
There seemed to be a need for CCJA in the community, and it continued to grow to the point that it made sense to change it to a non-profit organization, and bring in a board, volunteers, and more people from the community. As it turns out, Ms. Romaine finds that her personal experience of finding her voice through jazz as a teen and her teaching background, combined with the real-life lessons and experiences of owning a business, serve her well in her position as Executive Director.
Paul Romaine, Artistic Director
Throughout his childhood, Paul felt magnetized to music from the depth of his being. He began playing drums professionally at age 14 and in 1976 performed with an all-star high school big band at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Paul has led, recorded, or performed with countless combinations of the Denver area’s best players and with internationally acclaimed artists such as Eddie Harris, Benny Golson, James Moody, Larry Coryell, Gunther Schuller, Charlie Rouse, Eddie Gomez, Bobby Watson, Anita O’Day, Jack McDuff, Marlena Shaw, Rufus Reid, Clark Terry, Dave Grusin, and Robin Eubanks. Paul is also a member of the sextet Convergence, where he writes originals for the group, has recorded four critically acclaimed CD’s, and has performed at venues such as The Blue Note, The Knitting Factory, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, and the 2004 IAJE Conference in New York. He is featured on the Ken Walker Sextet CD Terra Firma, which landed at #56 on JazzWeek’s Top 100 Jazz CDs of 2005. During his association with the Woody Herman Orchestra, Paul toured North America performing concerts and clinics. In between gigs, he studied jazz composition at the Lamont School of Music and, in 1991 received a degree in recording engineering from the University of Colorado. He has served as a mentor musician/clinician in several Denver area school districts, as well as in the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Education Program. While mentoring, he saw the need for a jazz education program for students who are serious about the music, and he founded the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts. As the Artistic Director, he has developed unique programs for middle school and high school students from all over the Denver area to play together and study with professional musicians. Paul also serves on the music faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In the Spring of 2005, Paul was honored to travel to Washington D.C. to receive a Presidential Scholars Program Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education.
Annie Booth, Program Assistant
Annie Booth is a pianist and composer based in Denver, CO. Growing up in a musical family in Westminster, CO, she began the piano at a young age and started playing jazz in high school. She went on to study music at the collegiate level, earning a BM in jazz piano performance from the Thompson Jazz Studies Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2011.
Annie has performed all over the world as a versatile pianist on several luxury cruise lines and these days, is an active performer on the Denver jazz scene both as a sideman with several projects and as a bandleader of her own. She is a a recepient of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award and is the recipient of the 2015 Westword “Best In Denver” Music Award in the jazz category.
The pianist-composer released her debut album, Wanderlust, in October 2014 on the Dazzle Recordings label – an album that features an artistic program of nine original compositions in both trio and quartet settings, including the musicianship of Matt Smiley (bass), Alejandro Castano (drums), and Josh Quinlan (saxophones). Of Booth’s compositional style, Tim Breckon at the Examiner says, “There is a story hidden in the wordless tons of Booth’s compositions, with moments of triumph, loss, and sweet repose…Her choices are bold and innovative.”
In addition to performing and composing, Annie is an active educator in Colorado – teaching through local non-profit organizations (The Gift of Jazz and The Colorado Conservatory For The Jazz Arts) and with a private piano studio of her own.
Eunha So, Program Assistant
Eunha So is a pianist and composer with experience in many different genres encompassing classical to jazz.
Eunha graduated from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music with a Bachelor degree in Jazz Studies and Commercial Music. She has studied and trained under a number of prominent artists including pianists Eric Gunnison, and Art Lande.
In 2015, Eunha toured and performed with Red Bull Sound Select Artist “Povi” and was featured and selected as one of Jazz 89.3 KUVO’s 2015 “30 under 30” musicians. She is an active performer in the Denver music scene and works as a mentor and a program assistance with Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts.
As the pianist of Bear Creek High School’s selective Jazz band from 2009 to 2012, Eunha attended many jazz competitions, receiving awards. She began studying classical piano at six years old in South Korea, eventually moving to the United States with her parents at the age of fourteen.
CCJA Board of Directors
Nili Abrahamsson, Vice President
Michael Fitts (Kerja LLC)
Liam Hughes Butler, Student Member
John Seidel (Attorney General’s Office CO)
Fredrick (Fritz) Smith, Secretary (IHS)
Kira Spivak, Treasurer (President of CFO Services)
Greg Wills, President (Touchtone Business Advisors)