Gilbert Castellanos – Founder and Artistic Director

Gilbert Castellanos is a nationally renowned San Diego-based musician, composer, curator, educator and arranger, and one of the country’s top-call jazz trumpeters. For over a decade, Castellanos has been a member of The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, performing around the world and recording with the acclaimed big band. He is a San Diego Music Awards six-time Best Jazz Artist and Artist of The Year, with jazz-centric partnerships with The San Diego Symphony (Jazz @ The Jacobs/Bayside Summer Nights Jazz), The San Diego Museum of Art (Portraits In Jazz/The Wednesday Jazz Jam & Young Lions Series @ Panama 66), The San Diego Ballet (Resident Composer for Ritmos Latinos) & The Westgate Hotel (My Musical Heroes/Sunset Poolside Jazz Series). He founded Young Lions Jazz Conservatory in 2016 and continues to explore new opportunities to fulfill his personal mission to “keep jazz alive.”

Rob Thorsen – Instructor

Rob Thorsen maintains a diverse and busy schedule in Southern California as a performer, educator, clinician, and composer. He 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 also a private instructor.

Bob Boss – Instructor

Bob Boss has been playing guitar since 1963. He has performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. He is also in demand as an educator, having taught at UC San Diego, 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, The San Diego Symphony, and 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 Thorsen, Gilbert Castellanos, and Richard Sellers) through “Arts for Learning” in San Diego public schools and libraries.

Tyler Kreutel – Instructor

Tyler Kreutel is a drummer/percussionist based in the Southern California area. Born and raised in San Diego, California, he took up the drums at the age of 12 in his middle school jazz band and hasn’t looked back since. Tyler graduated from The San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts in 2012 and went on to receive his Bachelors in Music Performance at California State University Long Beach. While in college Tyler began playing professionally in both the San Diego and Los Angeles area and has been doing so ever since. Tyler has had the great fortune of playing with many outstanding musicians including Gilbert Castellanos, Charles McPherson, Henry Franklin, Joshua White, Marshall Hawkins, Steve Cotter and is one of the most in demand drummers in Southern California. He has taught at both The Orange County School of the Arts and Downey High School.

Holly Hofmann – Instructor

Known internationally since the late 1980s as one of the leading flutists in jazz, Holly Hofmann’s musical career has included associations with legendary artists such as Ray Brown, Frank Wess, Cedar Walton, and Kenny Barron, as well as a string of 13 critically-acclaimed CDs as a leader with band members such as Terell Stafford, Anthony Wilson, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and her husband, pianist Mike Wofford. Originally from the Midwest with degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Northern Colorado, Holly settled in San Diego in the late 1980s. Not content with being just a performing artist and director many musical series, Holly has also been very active as a jazz educator, passing along her knowledge to hundreds of students in clinics at colleges and conferences internationally as well as through her role as a founding member of the faculty of the UC San Diego Jazz Camp. She has given particular focus to mentoring and encouraging young women, particularly women instrumentalists, to become involved in jazz. In sum, for all of the above reasons, Holly has more than earned the title of Jazz Hero both in the jazz community here in San Diego and across the country.

Holly will be teaching our “no so” Young Lions Adult Classes for the 2022-2023 season!

Tonga Ross-Ma’u – Instructor

Tonga Ross-Ma’u is a multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, bass, saxophone, drums), composer, songwriter, and producer from San Diego, CA. He has been a part of the San Diego music scene since he started playing with his father’s band (Semisi and Fula Bula) when he was 13. He studied jazz at Wheaton College (MA) and continued his pursuit in the art working with Kamau Kenyatta since he moved back. Over the years he’s played with various groups in town covering different styles including Joe Garrison and Night People, The Earful, One Drop, and Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, along with his own projects like Ascent Trio and Chief Nasty. Throughout these last 15 years he’s taught jazz harmony, composition, and electronic production in school programs and private lessons and worked with ensemble classes around San Diego and LA.

Carter Key – Instructor

Carter Key is a trombonist, pianist, vocalist, educator, composer, and arranger. Originally from Richmond, VA., in 2015 Carter moved to Miami, FL to pursue Jazz Studies at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. While attending UM, Carter played lead trombone in the prestigious Frost Concert Jazz Band and served as a mentor for younger musicians in the jazz program. Since then, he has worked as a top call musician in South Florida for jazz orchestras, and recordings, particularly for groups such as South Florida Jazz Orchestra and Libido Band. Carter was featured on trombone on the Grammy Award Winning big band album “The Omni-American Book Club” by Brian Lynch. Carter has performed alongside musicians such as Gloria Estefan, Ziggy Marley, Damian Marley, Haley Reinhart, Brett Eldridge, John Daversa, Farruko, Stephen Marley, Gilbert Castellanos, and Arturo Sandoval among others. In his free time, Carter enjoys surfing, swimming, hiking, and traveling.