Young Lions Jazz Conservatory (YLJC) was founded by its artistic director, jazz trumpet virtuoso Gilbert Castellanos. Mr. Castellanos has a passion for jazz education and in 2013 started The Young Lions Series, a program (currently presented weekly at Balboa Park’s Panama 66 restaurant) that showcases young blooming jazz artists (ages 11-18) with whom he works closely as instructor and mentor.

Building on the success and momentum of the Young Lions Series, Castellanos expanded his vision and passion to raise up the next generation of jazz with the launch of Young Lions Jazz Conservatory. The non-profit organization focuses on the educational components of music: jazz theory, history, cultural context, latin/afro/brazilian rhythms, and master classes with internationally recognized musicians. Conservatory students are placed in small combos of seven or eight students and rehearse weekly. One or more conservatory students are featured every Wednesday in the Young Lions Series at Panama 66 at the San Diego Museum of Art. In addition, conservatory combos perform at Jazz @ The Jacobs, Adams Avenue Street Fair, KSDS Jazz 88.3 Live Series, Bayside Summer Nights at Embarcadero Marina Park, and more. Students also have the opportunity to attend jazz education festivals throughout the state, including Next Gen Monterey Jazz Festival. 

In his youth Mr. Castellanos was provided many opportunities by established jazz musicians and has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Diana Krall, Al Jarreau, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Dr. John, Charlie Hayden, Charles McPherson, John Clayton,  and Natalie Cole, just to name a few.

It’s been his ambition to provide today’s young musicians with some of the same opportunities he was fortunate enough to experience. Young Lions Jazz Conservatory is the fruition of this long-held dream.