Our faculty consists of the finest jazz performers and educators around. Guy Gonzales, Kamau Kenyatta and Rob Thorsen inspire the next generation.

Guy Gonzales

Guy Gonzales
Executive Director

Guy Gonzales was born and raised in San Diego, California where he began his music career, and through music, met his wife of 33 years, Lynette. They raised 3 children in San Diego while Guy developed a career in Advertising Sales with Cox Communications and then, re-tooling his skills, became a Financial Advisor (for the last 15 years) from which he recently retired to focus on building the nonprofit, after-school program called The International Academy of Jazz – San Diego.

Guy’s business involvements have included various Chambers of Commerce’s including the Del Mar Chamber and the Regional San Diego Chamber.In the nonprofit world, Guy has served as a Director with the El Cajon Rotary, The East County Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Young Artist’s Symphony (now The Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra). As an officer he has served as Treasurer for The Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges. He has also served on fund-raising committees for The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and Rady’s Children’s Hospital.

As a musician Guy has played with internationally acclaimed jazz artists including; Sonny Rollins, Larry Coryell, and Claire Fisher. He has also played for many celebrities including a former US President. Guy has had the distinction of performing on the KPBS award-winning music program called “Three Generations of the Blues” featuring blues legend Big Mama Thornton. He has also recorded with local Jazz artists including The Bruce Cameron Quintet, The Carlos Angeles Band, as well as Mark Hunter and, the late, Carl Evans from Fattburger. Guy continues to perform in Southern California with his Gypsy Jazz trio called The Gypsy Swing Cats.

Kamau Kenyatta

Kamau Kenyatta
Artistic Director

Pianist and saxophonist Kamau Kenyatta is known as a performer, producer, and a lecturer in the University of California’s Jazz Studies Department.

His versatility comes from his early exposure to a vast array of musical styles. Kamau has worked with jazz greats such as Hubert Laws, Earl Klugh, and Donald Byrd. World tours have taken him to over 20 countries and included stints with Donald Byrd, Carl Anderson, and the Supremes.

Kamau has also collaborated with Hubert Laws in writing the score for Small Steps, Big Strides a Fox network documentary concerning the history of African-American film. He has also written and supervised music for The Dawn at My Back, a Sundance Film Festival award-winning interactive DVD-ROM memoir. He has also worked with Mimi Klein, local Joe Garrison, and others.

His project “Celebrating Neruda,” intertwines dance, Latin American music, and the poetry of the Chilean genius, Pablo Neruda. His album Destiny was released in 2007.
Kenyatta’s protégé Gregory Porter won Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards for Liquid Spirits, an album Kenyatta produced. Kenyatta met Porter while subbing as a teacher at UC San Diego for George Lewis.

Marshall Hawkins

Marshall Hawkins
Guest Instructor

Marshall Hawkins was fortunate to know from an early age that he was meant to be a musician. Born in 1939 in the now “infamous” Anacostia district in Washington, D.C., Marshall’s home was always full of music. His mother had a love of the classics, and Bach, Verde, and Puccini were his early companions, along with Nat Cole, Charlie Parker and Jimmy Lunceford.

In 1964, Marshall decided to pick up the bass – and the rest is history. His first professional performance was with Betty Gray, the great Blues singer and pianist. In his mid-20s, Shirley Horn, the amazing Jazz vocalist, chose Marshall as her bassist – her youngest ever. He played with Shirley for almost five years, and then another life-changing opportunity presented itself.

In the late 60s, Marshall joined the Miles Davis quintet (with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams) and toured throughout the United States. In 1971, Marshall organized the Marshall Hawkins Quintet and played in the Washington D.C. area until the late 70s when another opportunity appeared. Eddie Jefferson (the innovator of “vocalese”) invited Marshall to come to California to be his bassist. From this gig, Marshall was chosen to tour internationally with saxophonist Richie Cole. In the 90s, Marshall’s musical collaborators included Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Pharaoh Sanders, the Manhattan Transfer, and other Jazz greats.

In 1978, Marshall moved to Idyllwild, California, home of the internationally famous high school for the arts. In 1986, he founded the Jazz program at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, serving as the head of the Jazz Department until his retirement. The Idyllwild Arts Jazz program has earned top honors the prestigious Berklee School of Music High School Jazz Festival. In addition to teaching Jazz as an art form, Marshall has mentored hundreds of talented young people who he still consider to be “his kids.”

Being well aware of the numbers of talented young people who cannot afford to attend a private high school for the arts, Marshall saw the need to raise scholarship funds for deserving young musicians. In 1994, Marshall co-founded the enormously successful Jazz in the Pines Festival and served as its Music Director for over 20 years.

Marshall is deeply committed to teaching and exposing school children to the uniquely American art form of Jazz. In 2002, he organized the Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra (MOJO) and brings unforgettable Jazz and educational programs to elementary and secondary schools. This orchestra also gives Marshall’s former students an opportunity to play with an amazing group of musicians and guest artists.