About Us

About Us (2)


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The Bay Area Jazz Society Presents, “Higher Power” a song and video from the “Park Place” Band CD entitled “STEPS”, featuring American Idol finalist Donnie Williams.

Some have called Higher Power the national anthem of recovery. In 2009 Higher Power was named the inspirational song and video of the year by a national contest sponsored by Tyler Perry, B.E.T, Lions Gate Films and Pastor Marvin Winan’s. Pastor Winan’s proclaimed that HIGHER POWER “was the winner by far!”. The video was produced by BAJAZS founder/drummer Paul Tillman Smith and longtime Prince sideman guitarist Levi Seacer jr.

One hundred percent of sales from the Park Place “STEPS” CD, minus publishing and productions royalties, will go into a special non-profit BAJAZS 501-c-3 fund to help musicians and artists who are in recovery from afflictions of all types especially those musicians that are over fifty.

Our mission is to provides a helping hand to lifelong professional musicians who have dedicated their lives to making people happy through music yet who have no retirement or pension for their later years and who need help with housing, food and health care, especially if they are unable to maintain an active work schedule.

The Park Place “STEPS” CD features former American Idol vocalist Donnie Williams and his sister Terrell “Tootie” Williams. Also performing are special guests Denise Stewart, formerly lead vocalist with Norman Connors, Robert Flack’s lead vocalist Derick Hughes and the beautiful & talented Talita Long, who is the mother of actress Nia Long. The “STEPS” CD is currently available on line at CDBaby, Itunes, Amazon and in select stores.

The CD also features some of the Bay Area’s finest musicians. Along with musician, writer and record producer Paul Tillman Smith (current director of BAJAZS) are co-producer Nelson, the bassist for the Braxton Brothers and currently on the road with Michael Bolton, Eric Daniels, currently pianist for the “Voice” plus formerly musical director for Mariah Carey, Lauren Hill’s pianist Kev Choice, Tony Toni Tone’s saxophonist Vincent Lars, Chuck Mangione’s Guitarist Carl Lockett and former Ledisi pianist Sundra Manning. Other performers are keyboardist Jay Logan, Guitarists, Erroll Cooney, Cedrick Dennis and Charles Spikes and Bassist Troy Lampkin.

To donate to this project or purchase the “STEPS” CD or the Higher Power Video please contact us at (BayAreaJazzSociety.org) or P.O. Box 3578 Berkeley, CA. 94703 USA. Phone us at 510-735-7172 or Email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


About Us

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The Mission of the Bay Area Jazz Society (BAJAZS) is to provide music education to residents of the Bay Area by providing seminars, workshops and music venues for local musicians. The BAJAS is dedicated in providing music development opportunities for under-served youth and expanding employment opportunities for local musicians.

The BAJAZS has members who are music instructors, performing artists, song writers, producers, technical recording engineers, music historians and other professionals who have performed Blues, Jazz, Hip Hop, Funk, Pop and Classical. The artists have a rich history in performing in local venues as well as national and international concerts and road shows. The artists have written, recorded and produced hundreds of songs and sold millions of records. BAJAZS founder Paul Tillman Smith has won record of the year in the U.K., Song of the year via Tyler Perry,BET and Lions Gate Films and has won the highest honor in African American Theater the (Audelco Awards) for music he wrote from the writings of poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Paul is also the co-founder of the Berkeley Juneteenth Festival, which is the oldest African American Arts and Music Festival in Northern California history.

Our schools program will enhance self-esteem and character, teach student discipline, promote independent learning skills, e.g., computer skills, studio recording and performing techniques, while developing and meeting personal goals and achievement.We will teach students to respect the contribution musicians have made in the past and foster creative energy to enjoy the challenges of embracing musical careers.

People Served

Please use the table below to indicate which groups your project or organization serves. The SF Foundation is more interested in all the populations you serve than the exact estimates. The table will not Our project provides low-income students with the opportunity to explore the world through music. The projects provide hope, inspiration and a potential lively hood and career opportunity.Our project will give students additional reasons to go to school. Like sports give athletics a reason to go to school, music classes can be a catalyst that makes a student want to attend school, not drop out, and graduate and attend college.

Our music education project provides low-income students with the opportunity to explore the world through music. BAJAZS hopes to inspire at risk youth with an opportunity to discover their rich music history and inspire them to a belief that they also can one day make a cultural contribution by learning to play an instrument that they can learn to master. The discipline this takes for many will lead to the con5dence to explore other academic areas of learning and potential career opportunities. The BAJS believes in racial and economic equity.  The BAJS promotes diversity and inclusion. The BAJS promotes the racial inclusion of our non-minority members as well as our minority members. 

Past Workshops

All of the members of the Board of Directors have provided individualized programs and projects for many years. The Bay Area Jazz Society did not sponsor these activities. The Founder and CEO, Paul Tillman Smith has conducted weekly after school workshops for high school students in the West Contra Costa School District in Richmond California over a two month period sponsored by the East Bay Center for Performing Arts Foundation and for the Oaktown Jazz Workshops for young music students of all ages which was weekly ongoing in Oakland California at the Alice Arts Center. Paul has also participated in the Music in the Schools programs sponsored by Oakland Unified School District. These performances took place during school hours for primary school age children usually a one-hour assembly once every two weeks. This program lasted through the school year.

Future Plans

The Bay Area Jazz Society will highlight in it’s programs the contributions of all great Jazz musicians but specifically featuring some of the bay area musical giants e.g.    musicians such as Earl “Fatha” Hines, Bobby Hutcherson, John Handy, Joe Henderson, Ed Kelly, Pharaoh Sanders, etc., and other musicians with roots here in the Bay area. The program will inform the students and others of the contributions these musicians have made to the greater body of music composition and their performance history. We will also highlight the pitfalls of pursuing a career as a Jazz musician and the necessity to also pursue a higher education.  Most importantly, the workshops will be of no cost to the local school districts or nonprofit community organizations.  Our operating costs for these projects will be determined based on the size and time each project entails. A tentative cost of $3,000 per project   including the payments to some participants,  the creation of needed art work plus the cost  of  promotions, all contribute to the total budget of four projects per year to around $12,000.


The project envisions working with the community college professors some who are on our advisory board, high school instructors, and seasoned musicians to design educational seminars for individuals interested in the history of jazz music, the theory of music, the evolution of music, the composition and creative methodology of music, and current marketing strategies. We also will be discussing current trends within the music business as it relates to making a living as a professional musician e.g., the trends in radio, TV, independent promotions and the current practices of established record companies. We also envision the seminars will be free to the public on a first come first serve basis, with attendance limited to fifty (50) participants.  The cost as stated above is anticipated to be approximately $3,000 per session and we will do one session every three (6) months or twice a year.

Music Venue

We will host two (2) annual concerts a year featuring known musicians and students to raise funds for ongoing programs and projects. One of our musical venues will be an outdoor concert in the parks.  This will be conducted monthly and called the “Jazz Mobile”. We will rent a stage and provide local talent free on a chosen day one per month. We anticipate approximately the cost to be approximately $2,000/month or a total of #24,000/year.

Our second musical venue will be music in the schools. This will involve going to various public and private schools to talk with students about music at no cost. Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this information, including accompanying documents, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, the information contains all the relevant facts relating to the request for the information and such facts are true, correct, and complete.


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