College Program Class of 2023 Thrills L.A. Audiences with Monthly Residency at Sam First

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA has resumed its monthly residency at renowned Los Angeles jazz spot Sam First following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Class of 2023 recently gave its first evening of performances, consisting of two hourlong sets of creatively arranged standards and original compositions.

Regular performances are a key part of the Institute of Jazz Performance experience, with each class given opportunities to hone its skills as an ensemble in real-world contexts, workshop new compositions and develop connections with other local players and fans. Appearances by the Institute students are consistently well-attended affairs, reflecting the excitement around the talented, young players and their fresh, inventive approach to composing and performing. Since its return to L.A. in 2012, the Institute’s college program has been cited as a major positive influence on the city’s jazz scene.

Sam First was a natural choice to host the Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble each month. Opened in 2018 by real estate developer and jazz aficionado Paul Solomon, the venue is one of the newest in L.A. but has quickly built a reputation for showcasing intensely creative music by top-notch local and national artists. Under the guidance of Music Manager and Institute of Jazz Performance Class of 2014 graduate Dave Robaire, the club has featured an impressive roster of accomplished artists from across the spectrum, including many musicians who have conducted residencies and private lessons for Institute students, such as David Binney, Billy Childs, Larry Goldings, Dick Oatts, John Patitucci and Edward Simon, among many others. Institute graduates residing in L.A., including Paul Cornish, Mike Cottone, Anthony Fung, Michael Mayo, Jonathan Pinson, Daniel Rotem and Miro Sprague, have also received a warm welcome at the venue.

At their inaugural performance, the positive energy was palpable as the Institute students shared a slew of original music, including several compositions written as assignments under the guidance of Distiguished Professors Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and Composition Artist-in-Residence Billy Childs for their classes in the program.

“I just feel so good,” said Class of 2023 vocalist Darynn Dean, responding to enthusiastic applause from the eager audience. “It’s been so long since we’ve been able to make music. It’s been a really long year; we’ve all been shedding at home or over Zoom, and you all being here just really means the world to us.”

The Class of 2023 will next appear at Sam First on January 20 (live-streaming event at 7:30 pm), February 22 and March 22. For more information, visit