Gilbert Castellanos, Founder and Artistic Director

Recognized as an American master by Down Beat magazine, Castellanos is also a strong advocate of promoting and educating various communities about jazz: “America’s classical music,” as he calls it. Castellanos takes pride in being a member of the internationally acclaimed Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and working with one of his mentors, the great bassist John Clayton. He has recorded and performed with a multitude of world-renowned musicians from Dizzy Gillespie to Michael Bublé to Oscar Hernandez to Diana Krall (to name a few), as well as a stint on American Idol in front of millions of viewers. In 2013, he was honored as San Diego Music Awards “Artist of the Year”; he has been named Best Jazz Artist six times, including in 2017.

Castellanos was recognized in 2016 by The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory as one of the region’s top music educators. In 2017, he received the “Jazz Hero” by the national Jazz Journalists Association.

Gilbert Castellanos is Artistic Curator for both of the San Diego Symphony’s jazz series: Jazz @ The Jacobs (Jacobs Music Center) and Bayside Summer Nights/Thursday Night Jazz (Embarcadero Marina Park).


Rob Thorsen, Instructor

Rob Thorsen maintains a diverse and busy schedule in Southern California as a performer, educator, clinician, and composer. He has found his true voice in the upright bass and performs regularly in San Diego with artists including the Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann Quartet, Charles McPherson, Steph Johnson, Gilbert Castellanos, Mundell Lowe, and a host of others. He has released six albums as a leader, the most recent “Solos and Duos – Bass is the Space” which features a host of talents including award-winning pianist Joshua White, Gilbert Castellanos, Steph Johnson, Marshall Hawkins and Fernando Gomez.  In addition to performing with his own quartet, he is the founder of “Jazz an American Art Form” – a successful jazz education program that has been presented to over 8,000 students to date. He is a faculty member at the annual UCSD Jazz Camp, and teaches private lessons.  For more information on Mr. Thorsen, please visit his website:

Charlie Arbelaez, Instructor

Charlie Arbelaez moved to San Diego in 2011 as a Saxophonist for the United States Marine Corps. Charlie has successfully completed several hundreds of hours teaching clinics and masterclasses to young students all throughout the US. As a veteran, he holds a Bachelor's degree in Jazz Studies from SUNY Purchase and enjoys performing, writing, recording, and teaching music.


Bob Boss, Instructor

Bob Boss has been playing guitar since 1963. He has experience performing throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada & Europe. He is also in demand as an educator, having taught at UCSD, SDSU, Idyllwild Arts Academy and several community colleges. 

Bob has performed live in San Diego since 1984, having worked with Marshall Hawkins, Jimmy & Jeannie Cheatham, Daniel Jackson, Mike Wofford and The San Diego Symphony, as well as in musical theatre. He has appeared on many recordings including his own “Three Trios” and albums by Daniel Jackson, A.J. Croce, Bert Turetsky and others. 

He earned a M.A. in Humanities in 1975. He appears regularly with The Rob Thorsen Quartet (Rob, Gilbert Castellanos & Richard Sellers) through “Arts for Learning” in San Diego public schools & libraries.

Former Faculty

Ian Buss, Instructor

Currently based in San Diego, Ian Buss is a saxophonist, composer/arranger, and music educator. He has performed around the country as a leader and sideman and has served on the faculty of the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, the Long Island Conservatory, and the UCSD Jazz Camp.

Ian's music is inspired by visual art, literature, and the human experience. Originally from San Diego, he lived in New York City for several years and has explored many different styles of music, including jazz, classical, afro-cuban, bossa nova, rock, and pop. A graduate of the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music, Ian has performed at numerous venues in the New York City area, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Joe's Pub, and Brooklyn Bowl. He also performs at a variety of events, and has presented a concert at an international United Nations Conference.