Founded in 2003, Friends of Jazz at UCLA is a UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Support Group dedicated to providing an academic and musical environment that fosters and nurtures future jazz musicians who will inspire us all by:

  • Supporting the growing needs of the UCLA Global Jazz Studies program with respect to student support, workshops, lecturers, and masterclasses.
  • Sponsoring musical events to benefit jazz studies.
  • Supporting outreach to secondary school students to raise awareness of jazz.
  • Improving knowledge of UCLA and its extraordinary educational resources including its Global Jazz Studies program.
  • Providing more positive exposure and public awareness of jazz as a unique American art form.
History of Jazz at UCLA
History of Jazz at UCLA
History of Jazz at UCLA
Juan Gonzalez
Juan Gonzalez
Scholarship Spotlight:
Juan Gonzalez

Friends of Jazz at UCLA has been providing critical financial support to top UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Jazz Studies students since 2007.

Recently, we caught up with Juan Gonzalez, B.A. ’19, a member of the first graduating class of the Global Jazz Studies program at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and a recipient of a scholarship from the Friends of Jazz at UCLA. An accomplished instrumentalist on the saxophone, clarinet and piano, Juan has had the opportunity to perform in a variety of groups and genres over the years, including jazz, classical, metal, Latin, fusion, reggae and at venues and at events and festivals in Fiji, Australia, China and Mexico, most notably, the Tijuana Jazz and Blues Festival.

Before arriving at UCLA, Juan worked as jazz director at Mar Vista Middle School in Los Angeles, where as a student, he gained a solid foundation in music performance and theory.

Following his studies at UCLA, he was accepted into a master’s program at the School of Music at Columbia University.  Along with his aspirations in music, Juan hopes someday to become an educator at the college level for new generations of musicians

What inspired you to go into music education and teaching at your former middle school?

I was very fortunate. The program I had at Mar Vista Middle School had a full jazz band, full orchestra with horns, full string orchestra. Then we had a marching band in the summer, so it was a full, robust program. Since I was an alumnus of the program, [I wanted] to get it into shape. A lot has changed – budget cuts happened and they started hiring part-timers in the district. It was cheaper to hire someone like me who was still in school than to hire full-fledged music teachers.  I was very lucky that I had that experience and I hope to recreate these experiences that I’ve had for the current students.

Who were some of your UCLA professors who had a big influence on you?

All of them did, all in their own way. Tamir Hendelman was a major influence. I had Justo Almario, my saxophone teacher. For two years I used to listen to him in middle school; my teacher gave me an album of his Latin jazz. Who would have thought that 10 years later I’d be studying with him? And Professor Eddie Meadows. Not only are they knowledgeable about their subjects but they’re actually role models, awesome human beings. It just means the world when you talk to them – they are just the nicest guys you will ever meet.

How has your education at the Herb Alpert School of Music prepared you for a career in jazz, musically and otherwise?

One of my favorite classes was Global Jazz Perspectives. We had a guest lecturer every week. We talked about Ethiopian music, flamenco. Justo came in and talked about Columbian music. A professor from ethnomusicology spoke about klezmer music and we got to perform it. You can talk about music on and on, but being able to play it is important.

How has the Friends of Jazz at UCLA propelled you to the next step at Columbia?

It’s really their support that is very helpful, everything they do for the program. I come from a single parent home, my mom supported me all the way since I was two. If I didn’t get the scholarship that I got, I think it would be very hard for me to write my own pieces or take the classes I want. I’d like to be on the board in the future and help students to do the same thing. I think jazz is kind of a dying art form. As of 2016, it has been found to get 1.9 percent of music consumption. That is below children’s music and worse than classical music – those are the bottom three. That is such a crime. We need more players and we definitely need more listeners and more venues. But really, it’s giving the opportunity to students to be able to explore the art form which is what I think Friends of Jazz is all about.

Friends of Jazz at UCLA raises funds for scholarships each year, and is proud to award $25,000 in scholarship support in the academic year 2018-2019. Consider making a gift to the support the next generation of jazz artists today!

Honoring Bill Selditz

Friends of Jazz at UCLA has lost a dedicated board member and a lifelong supporter of Jazz in Southern California. Bill Selditz was a kind and compassionate individual. If you would like to honor Bill’s life, please consider making a gift to the Friends of Jazz Scholarship Fund.

Friends of Jazz Scholarship Fund
Friends of Jazz Scholarship Fund
Friends of Jazz Scholarship Fund

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In keeping with the Friends of Jazz at UCLA mission to raise public awareness of jazz, Friends of Jazz at UCLA maintains a social media group providing a calendar of jazz performances and events throughout Southern California, as well as upcoming UCLA Jazz Studies performances and events.

Join the Friends of Jazz at UCLA community of jazz lovers and keep up with the latest jazz concerts and events by joining the Friends of Jazz at UCLA Meetup group. Join today!

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