Project Description


Jazz Combo Classes

Jazz Combos offer a real-life experience of what it is like to be in a jazz group.

We rehearse once a week for 2 hours, and prepare music in the same way a professional band would.

Students will learn about:

  • Music Theory
  • Jazz History
  • Arranging
  • Composition
  • Booking gigs

In addition, students will:

  • Build a library of music for performance through arranging and composing
  • Transcribe solos and perform them for the class
  • Compile a database of recordings, further expanding their music library
  • Perform at jazz clubs, restaurants, private events and other venues
  • Record a CD

Jazz Improvisation Classes

  • Develop improvisation skills in a group setting
  • Memorizing songs using the Alpha Shapes Method
  • Weekly assignments using patterns and “licks” to build vocabulary
  • Ear training


DEREK SIMSCourse Instructor
Derek Sims is an in-demand trumpeter in both the jazz and classical Portland music scene. Derek graduated with honors from The University of Michigan with a Bachelors of Music degree. While at Michigan, he studied with the great Armando Ghitalla (Boston Symphony), and Charles Daval (Montreal, Seattle Symphonies). After college, Derek went to play with Princess Cruise Lines, and toured over 40 countries around the world for 2 years.
Derek has had the privilege of performing with such artists as Benny Golson, Freda Payne, Danilo Perez, Gerald Wilson, Arturo Sandoval, Bob Mintzer, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Faddis, Ingrid Jensen, Bobby Shew, Randy Brecker, Bobby Watson, Pancho Sanchez, Wynton Marsalis, James Moody, Ron Miles, Martha Reeves, and many others. Currently he performs with the Mel Brown Septet, and co-leads the Brown/Sims Big Band. He has also performed with many different groups in the Portland area including: Carlton Jackson/Dave Mills Big Band, The Oregon Symphony, Columbia Symphony, Big Horn Brass, Alan Jones Sextet, Bobby Torres Ensemble, Soul Vaccination, Linda Hornbuckle, Pepe and the Bottle Blondes, Pink Martini, and Dahlia.

Portland Jazz School

Become Part of Derek’s Portland Jazz School to Further Your Jazz Improvisation Skills.