Since 1975, cornet player, Chet Jaeger, has served as the longstanding leader and front man for the “trad jazz” group, The Night Blooming Jazzmen. His association with the name “Night Blooming Jazzmen” goes back to the early 1950’s when he began using it as an umbrella term for all his musical activities. The apple does not fall far from the tree of vaudeville, where his dad and uncle made their marks. A deft combination of humor and history are the marks of Chet on and off stage.
Moving with his family to Claremont in 1931 from New Orleans via Columbia, Missouri where he was born, Chet attended Sycamore Elementary School and Claremont High School, followed by a bachelor’s degree in math from Pomona College and a master’s degree from the Claremont Graduate School (now University). Jaeger worked for over thirty years as a high school math teacher, retiring from Chaffey High School in 1985. In 1960, Chet served as a founding member of the San Gabriel Valley based, Society for the Preservation of Dixieland Jazz – an endeavor that quickly eclipsed his work in the classroom.
In addition to extensive touring at home and abroad, Mr. Jaeger and his Night Blooming Jazzmen are known locally as an enduring line-up in Claremont’s summertime Concerts in the Park and have appeared in Claremont’s 4th of July parade for twenty-five years. Chet Jaeger continues to blow the flame of traditional hot jazz into the ears and hearts of his listeners.
Photography by Mark Takeuchi