Jean Levinson, 81, on July 7th, 2018.
Jean Levinson played tuba with the Sacramento based Catsnjammer Jazz Band for over 30 years — from their very beginning (in the early 70s) until soon after the band’s leader and cornet player, Gene Berthelsen, died in Nov. 2011. She is on all four of the band’s CDs.
After Berthelsen’s passing the band reconstituted itself; Bob Sakoi was hired on trumpet to take Berthelsen’s place, and Brian Richardson (trombone) assumed leadership of the band. The band carried on for a year or two until it fused with The Creole Jazz Kings. They now perform mostly in the Modesto area.
Prior to joining The Catsnjammers, Levinson played with Cell Block Seven (a Stockton/Lodi band fronted by Bob Romans).
In 1981, weekly practice gatherings held at Jean Levinson’s home drew in local ragtime fans who, noticing a local scarcity of ragtime events, founded the Sacramento Ragtime Society in March of 1982. The unincorporated group hosted monthly ragtime meetups and helped to arrange the Ragtime Corner at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee.