Jazz Studies

If you'd like to be a music major, please contact Dr. Georgios Kouritas (GKouritas@Saddleback.edu) to schedule an audition and learn about requirements.  


Jazz Studies at Saddleback College emphasizes creativity through improvisation and ensemble performance. Focusing on the historical, theoretical and intuitive aspects of this American music, Joey Sellers and an outstanding cadre of nationally recognized musicians comprise the jazz faculty. 

For more information on the Jazz Studies Program at Saddleback College contact Joey Sellers, 949-582-4629.

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Jazz Performances

Music Department Guest Artist: Kalia Vandever Quartet

Monday, November 29, 2021 - 7:30pm

McKinney Theatre

$12 General; $10 Senior; $5 Student; Child Under 18 FREE

Presented by the Music Department, Kalia Vandever is a trombonist, composer, and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. She released her debut album, "In Bloom" in May, 2019 which features all of her original compositions written for quartet and duo with guitar.

Kalia has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. She has also performed on Saturday Night Live with Demi Lovato and on Samantha Bee's Full Frontal with Lizzo. She is also experienced as an educator and currently leads the trombone studio at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.

Mask and Vaccine or PCR Test Required

Jazz Combos Concert

Friday, December 10, 2021 - 7:30pm

McKinney Theatre

$12 General; $10 Senior; $5 Student; Child Under 18 FREE

Saddleback Jazz Studies student combos perform classics and original works.

Mask and Vaccine or PCR Test Required

Holiday Big Band Concert

Saturday, December 11, 2021 - 6:30pm

McKinney Theatre

$20 General; $15 Senior; $10 Student/Child

The Saddleback Big Band performs toe-tapping holiday favorites, and the first 150 groups through the door will each receive a small holiday gift.

Mask and Vaccine or PCR Test Required


Music 46: Jazz Improvisation

Students will explore the creative possibilities of improvisation in the African-American tradition. This class includes analyses of historically important improvised solos, transcription, chord/scale relationships and study of various jazz styles.

Music 14: Jazz Composition and Arranging

This class alternates between composing and arranging for big band and smaller ensembles. Proper jazz notation, harmonization techniques, orchestration, and study of historically important composers are important components of this class.

Music 27: Jazz History

Students will look at the cultural, political and musical aspects of this great American music. Students will develop the critical listening skills necessary to identify different styles and different musical personalities.

Music 252: Jazz Piano

Students will learn how to use jazz voicings, read a lead sheet, develop improvisation skills and identify chord/scale relationships.



Joey Sellers, Director, tromboneJoey Sellers, trombone

Joey Sellers is a highly regarded composer, arranger, trombonist and educator. Sellers heads the jazz program at Saddleback College and teaches improvisation, jazz ensembles, composition and jazz history.

An accomplished composer in both jazz and classical idioms, Sellers has written for Doc Severinsen, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, symphony orchestras in Tulsa,  Long Beach and San Antonio and several works commissioned by the St. Louis Brass. 

Sellers has played and recorded with internationally recognized jazz musicians, including Dave Liebman, Joe LaBarbara, Bruce Fowler, Lew Tabackin, Kim Richmond, Allen Vizzutti, Conrad Herwig, Bobby Shew, Tony Malaby, Mike Formanek, Clay Jenkins, Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra and the Kenny Wheeler Large Ensemble.

Sellers freelanced for years in New York City and Los Angeles and was Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University. Recipient of the Gil Evans Fellowship in Jazz Composition, the Sammy Nestico Award, and most recently, the Julius Hemphill Composition Award, Sellers is the only artist in history to have received all three awards.

Dr. Ariel AlexanderDr. Ariel Alexander

Dr. Ariel Alexander has gained recognition as a Los Angeles saxophonist, composer, educator and entrepreneur. Originally from St Louis, she earned her B.A. at Indiana University and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Southern California. She has presented concerts throughout the US, South America, Europe and Asia and performed with such artists as Stevie Wonder, Steve Miller (Steve Miller Band), Take 6, Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole, Patti Austin, Ruben Studdard, and Monica Mancini. As a studio musician, Ariel regularly records for television and film soundtracks. As an active member of the music education community, Ariel has presented at the Jazz Education Network Conference, the Technology in Music Education Conference, and the California Music Educators Conference. Her recent publications include articles in Music Educators Journal, The Woman Conductor and Jazz Education Magazine.  In addition to her experience as a performer and educator, Ariel is well-versed in Music Business and Arts Administration. She has served in leadership roles for several non-profit music education programs. In 2007, Ariel founded the mobile recording studio, Rock Star Workshop. Managing a staff of seven, she planned and booked over 150 events a year, recruited and trained event coordinators and maintained a comprehensive internet marketing program. In five years, the business recorded over 5,000 children. www.ArielAlexander.com

Jamie Rosenn, guitarJamie Rosenn, guitar

Jamie Rosenn is a guitar player committed to forging a personal sound that acknowledges the past but also points to the future. Trained at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he received a Bachelors Degree in Music, Rosenn studied with jazz luminaries Jimmy Giuffre, Ran Blake, Mick Goodrick, George Russell and Bob Moses.

After completing his studies in Boston, Jamie moved to California where he attended the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia. At CalArts Jamie studied with Charlie Haden, Leo Smith and Joe LaBarbera and was a featured performer and composer on the '94 and '95 CalArts Jazz CDs.

Since receiving his Master Degree from CalArts Jamie has been an active member of the Los Angeles jazz scene. In 1996 Jamie was chosen by the United States Information Agency to be an artistic ambassador and perform in a duo that took part in a seven week tour of the Middle East and South Asia.

In addition to performing, Jamie also teaches and has taught at the Musician’s Institute, Saddleback College, the Los Angeles Music Academy, the University of California at Los Angeles, and CalArts. Jamie currently performs as a member of the trio JoE-LeSs shOe with Jason Harnell and Matt Otto who released their self titled CD in 2007. Additionally, Jamie co-leads the organ trio Option 3, with Joe Bagg and Mark Ferber that released their debut CD "Points Subtracted" in early 2008.


Adam Bravo, pianoAdam Bravo, piano

Pianist, keyboardist, composer, and arranger Adam Bravo is a dynamic presence on the Los Angeles music scene. His credits as a pianist include Barbara Morrison, Tierney Sutton, Roy McCurdy, Bob Sheppard, the Disneyland Band, Sally Kellerman, John Daversa, Billy Richards’ Coasters, Lara Johnston, The Tim Gill All-Stars, and many others. In addition to local work, he tours internationally, appearing at venues from the Roxy to the Pasadena Playhouse to the Ryman Auditorium.Adam holds a Bachelor of Music from the Thornton School of Music at USC, where his private instructors included Morten Lauridsen, John Clayton, Shelly Berg, Alan Pasqua, and Russ Ferrante. As a writer, he has contributed arrangements or original compositions to ensembles including the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, the Brad Steinwehe Jazz Orchestra, Eddie Wakes, The San Gabriel Seven (featuring Bill Watrous), Big Time Operator, and the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra.. Adam’s writing has garnered him numerous accolades, including a Downbeat Award in the Best Original Song category, the Monterey Jazz Festival Big Band Composition Competition, and the USC JazzReach Composition Competition (twice). Adam also leads progressive jazz R&B band The Oven Fresh, whose albums are available at all major music retailers. 

Luther Hughes, bassLuther Hughes, bass

Bassist Luther Hughes received his training at the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music and Long Beach City College, earning his bachelor's degree from Cal State Long Beach. His teachers included Alex Cirin, Thomas Martin, Nat Gangursky, Eileen Strang and Sue Raney.

Luther is involved in the music business in a number of ways:

As a musician, he currently leads The Cannonball-Coltrane Project, as well as Luther Hughes & Friends: Remembering The Nat King Cole Trio, and H.E.R.K.. As a record producer and music publisher, Luther heads up Primrose Lane Music, which he founded in 2004. As an educator, Luther has formerly taught at Cal State University Long Beach, Golden West College and the Musicians Institute.

He currently teaches at Saddleback College as well as Cal State Fullerton and also serves as the Southern California Regional Director for Bruce Forman's JazzMasters Workshop. Luther has played bass with some of the biggest names in jazz in a career spanning over 30 years. He has performed or recorded with jazz legends such as Gene Harris, Mundell Lowe, Joe Henderson, Carmen MacRae, Willie Bobo, Horace Silver, Harold Land, Don Ellis, Joe Pass, Louis Bellson, Hampton Hawes and many more.

Having recorded and performed on stage, and for film and television scores, Luther has appeared as a band member on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Boston Legal.

Gerald T. Pinter, saxophonesGerald T. Pinter, saxophones

Jerry Pinter received his Bachelor of Music degree from University of North Texas. Mr. Pinter was a Member of the Woody Herman Orchestra from 1984 to 1987, served as saxophonist and a featured soloist for live performances and recordings and also taught saxophone master classes at the high school and college levels at schools throughout the U.S.  

Private instruction for elementary, intermediate and advanced students at local Orange County music stores and at his home from 1992 to 2001. He currently holds a part-time position as applied jazz saxophone instructor at University of California Irvine since 2006 and a part-time position as applied jazz saxophone instructor at Saddleback College since 2002.

Jerry has performed and/or recorded with:  Stan Getz, Maynard Ferguson, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Rosemary Clooney, Billy Eckstine, Richard Stoltzman, Buddy DeFranco, Poncho Sanchez, Tony Bennett, Cab Calloway, Mel Torme, Clark Terry,  and numerous others. Mr. Pinter also received two grammy nominations (50th Anniversary”-l986 and “Woody’s Gold Star”-1987 both on Concord Records label). Mr. Pinter can be heard on over forty recordings. Produced or Co-produced four full- length CD recordings, and have recorded nine original Pinter compositions.

Ron Stout, trumpetRon Stout, trumpet

Born into a musical family in 1958 in California, Ron Stout is a third-generation musician. A Musician’s Union member since age 15, Ron studied music at Orange Coast College and Golden West College where he was frequently the recipient of "Best Soloist" awards from Jazz Festivals statewide. Ron has been involved with teaching Jazz Theory/Improvisation and trumpet since 1978, both as a private instructor and in the role of clinician, drawing on his years of experience conducting seminars while traveling and playing with the Woody Herman Orchestra (1984-90), first under the baton of the Maestro, Woody, then under the leadership of the brilliant Frank Tiberi. Since 1991 Ron has taught part-time, recorded and performed in and around Los Angeles, traveling occasionally to Europe upon invitation.

He has worked with the Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley, Jose Feliciano, Frankie Laine, Lou Rawls, Debbie Reynolds, Gloria Loring, Patti Page, Kay Starr, Maureen McGovern, Sue Raney, Bobby Short, Steve Lawrence/Eydie Gorme, Little Anthony, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Spinners, and Colin Raye. During his years with The Woody Herman Orchestra, Ron was honored to back up Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson, Diane Schuur, Roberta Flack, Anita O'Day, Jack Jones, Cab Calloway, The Mills Brothers, The Four Freshmen, The Dukes of Dixieland, Pete Barbutti, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Mel Torme, Bill Eckstine, Joe Williams, Richard Stoltzman, Buddy Defranco Stan Getz, Al Chon, Scott Hamilton, Maynard Ferguson, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, and more. He has worked with other big bands, including Les Brown’s Band of Renown, Frank Capp's "Juggernaut," The Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Roger Newman's Rather Large Band, Bill Watrous, Refuge West, Glen Garrett's Brazilian Big Band, The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, and John Fedchock's New York Big Band.

Ron spent three seasons traveling and recording with Horace Silver in groups ranging from the classic quintet setting to the ten-piece brass ensemble. His other small group jazz work has been with: Saxophonist Karl Denson, Pepper Adams, and Supersax; Pianist Les Czimber also with Poncho Sanchez, Matt Zebley, and David Berger.

He can be heard locally and traveling with big bands such as Bill Holman, Buddy Childers, Jack Sheldon, and The Bob Florence Limited Edition. Ron also has his own modern quintet, featuring Jerry Pinter on tenor saxophone.

His recordings include: Bill Holman Band - Brilliant Corners (JVC); Bob Florence Limited Edition - Serendipity 18 (Mama) ; Phil Norman Tentet - Yesterday's Gardenias (Seabreeze); Matt Zebley - Live at Moondog (Vibrant); Tom Garling - Maynard Ferguson Presents… (Concord); Vic Lewis' West Coast All Stars - Me & You (Candid); and Barbara Morrison - I'm Getting' Long All Right (Chartmaker Recorders). A complete discography is available on request.

Paul Johnson, drumsPaul Johnson, drums

Paul Johnson began his musical training in Michigan at the Interlochen Arts Academy and continued his education at Arizona State University in jazz performance.  He studied multiple percussion with Mervin Britton and Dr. Mark Sunkett and jazz drums with Ralph Humphries and Jeff Hamilton.

Paul’s early professional career included international tours with The Four Freshmen, The Ink Spots, The Four Lads, The Pied Pipers, The Lettermen, and Donald O’Connor. He has backed up such stars as Sammy Davis Jr., Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, Melissa Manchester, Mel Torme, and Ella Fitzgerald.  Paul also spent time on tour with the legendary Woody Herman and his Thundering Herd performing with Al Cohn, Clark Terry, and the great Joe Williams at Carnegie Hall.

As a current member of the award-winning Side Street Strutters Jazz Band, Paul appears regularly with Pops Orchestras including: the Houston Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Wichita Symphony, the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Orlando Symphony, the San Antonio Symphony, the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, and the York Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Johnson is the recipient of two consecutive grants from Arts International to perform at jazz festivals throughout Europe.  He also received a touring grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to perform historical transcriptions of Jelly Roll Morton and Jack Teagarden throughout North America and Europe.  Paul also fronts a jazz quintet with some of L.A.’s finest players appearing in various local venues.

In addition to his busy private teaching studio, Paul conducts jazz clinics and master classes for jr. high, high school, and college students across the United States under the auspices of the California Arts Council, Community Concerts Association, and “Live On Stage”.  Paul is currently on faculty at Saddleback College school of Fine Arts as percussion and drum set instructor.



The Saddleback Big Band is a standard size big band that explores wide stylistic territory. From the great Swing Era music of Earl Fatha Hines, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson through the exotic voyages of Sun Ra, the rich textures of Gil Evans to music penned moments prior to performance, this engaging ensemble always thrills. Most concerts feature a world premier combined with music of swinging historical importance. Guest artists have included James Moody, Jane Ira Bloom, Dave Liebman, Bill Holman, Charles McPherson, Nicholas Payton, Tony Malaby, Mark Helias, and others.

Though the Big Band enjoys playing at its home in the beautiful McKinney Theatre at Saddleback College, they are also frequently featured at jazz festivals and jazz venues throughout the Southland.


The most important aspect of any jazz studies program is the combo program. This is where the true nature of jazz music is addressed. Style, improvising skills, interplay among members and composition are all addressed in a focused chamber music environment.


The Jazz Lab Ensemble is an improvisatory based group whose size is malleable. The ensemble ranges from 7 to 20 members, depending on instrumentation and the nature of the music featured in each concert. Previous performances have featured the music of Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Parker, and original compositions by band members. The jazz ensemble will perform at different functions and may perform with nationally-known guest artists. Offered as open-entry/openexit.

Applied Program

Music majors at Saddleback participate in our Applied Music Program.

Students in the Applied Program take private lessons, play in ensembles and attend a weekly performance class, during which students demonstrate their performing abilities before their classmates and the Music Faculty in a professional concert setting. 

To audition for our applied program and become a music major, please fill out this form.

Online submissions close at 11:59pm on January 14th. Students will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Once all spots are filled, we will no longer be accepting auditions.

If you have questions, please direct them to Georgios Kouritas: GKouritas@saddleback.edu