Dean Koba Jazz Drums
Call Dean at (562) 260-9659

About Me


Dean divides his time between adventures on the jazz scene in L.A. and

around the country, more steady and mainstream work at Disneyland, and a

roster of college students to whom he passes on the lessons (musical and

otherwise) he has learned as a lifelong professional. Jazz has been his

primary interest since high school, when he was captivated by The Bill

Evans Trio recordings (particularly the later ones with Joe LaBarbera on

drums). He has remained insatiably curious and enthusiastic about trends in

jazz and jazz drumming, and is always engaging as a performer, listener, and

audience member, finding inspiration to push the envelope in his own

playing. As a result, Dean is known for energetic drive, deft facility, and

imaginative spontaneity on the drums. His distinct style is in high demand,

most often in trios led by pianists Tamir Hendleman and Greg Reitan, and

guitarist Barry Zweig.

This explorative spirit is balanced by the consistency of his “steady gig” at

Disneyland, which he has had since 1993. Dean has enjoyed the musical

challenges that come with each of the many bands and shows he has played

in over the years, as well as the dedicated musicians he has worked with and

befriended there. The storytelling approach of live music at Disneyland has

given Dean more ways to reach people through music. Whether it’s a young

child experiencing live music for the first time or an old couple enjoying

their favorite song, an immediate emotional connection with listeners

provides a contrast to the outside jazz world, where musical expression can

sometimes take on more cerebral or abstract forms.

Dean earned a Bachelor of Music in percussion from Northwestern

University and went on to graduate school at The University of Southern

California where he earned a Master of Music in jazz studies. At USC, he

studied drumset with his high school hero Joe LaBarbera, and another giant

of jazz drumming, Jeff Hamilton, diving deep into the art of bebop

drumming and the trio format specifically. The dive continues in Dean’s

faculty positions at Long Beach City College, Mount San Antonio College,

and El Camino College. As an educator, Dean puts the next generation of

drummers through the tried-and-true paces, and uses their up-to-the-minute

interests to enrich their education as well as his own.


Selected Discography

Acoustic Jazz Quartet,  Acoustic Jazz Quartet (Naxos)

Acoustic Jazz Quartet, Organic (Origin)

Jeff Benedict, Standard Fare (Resurgent Music)

Brent Jensen, Stay Cool (Origin)

Brent Jensen, The Sound of a Dry Martini: Remembering Paul Desmond (Origin)

Christoph Luty, It's Good to Be Seen (Upright)

Greg Reitan, Some Other Time (Sunnyside)

Greg Reitan, Antibes (Sunnyside)

Greg Reitan, Day Break (Sunnyside)

Greg Reitan, Post No Bills (Sunnyside)

Various, Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival Soundtrack (Cleopatra)

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, It Feels Like ChristmasTime (Savoy)

Dean Koba plays Aquarian Drum Heads, Bosphorus Cymbals, Gretsch drums, Gibraltar Hardware and Innovative sticks.