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Studio Jazz Ensemble

Darren Castello, Music Director

The COC Studio Jazz Ensemble is a contemporary big band that presents modern interpretations of literature from the Swing era and the Latin tradition, as well as funk, fusion, and pop charts with overall musicianship as its emphasis. The focus is on challenging students to embrace some of the most difficult yet satisfying arrangements available.

The COC Ensemble has been in the forefront of jazz education in Santa Clarita since pioneer jazz educator R.K. Downs in the early years of our college’s history. In 2022, Darren Castello began leading the ensemble and continues the tradition of providing excellent big band jazz music in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Darren Castello holds a BA in Music and English from the University of North Texas, and an MA in Jazz Performance and Composition from New York University. He has performed across the country in a wide variety of styles and ensembles over the past twenty years, including playing marimba and hand drums in The Lion King on Broadway, theatrical drumming as a Blue Man in The Blue Man Group show, drum set and hand percussion in multiple Latin Jazz and salsa ensembles, classical percussion with orchestras and wind symphonies, Taiko drums with the Taikoza ensemble, and marching percussion and big band swing with a U.S. Army Band.

Since moving from New York City to Los Angeles he has stayed active with recording sessions and teaching. In addition to directing the Studio Jazz Ensemble, Darren is available for applied lessons in jazz drum set, classical percussion, mallet percussion, and Latin percussion.

Check our calendar for COC concert information.

If you have questions about the Studio Jazz Ensemble please reach out via email to