UCSD jazz haters prompt Brian Ross to move on

"I felt the administration was really coming down on me."

Brian Ross can take partial credit for bringing Bruno Mars to UCSD seven years ago.
  • Brian Ross can take partial credit for bringing Bruno Mars to UCSD seven years ago.
  • photo by Jon Naugle

After more than 13 years of bringing concerts to UC San Diego, program and events manager Brian Ross called it quits on June 23. Ross collaborated with students to bring many pop and hip-hop acts to the campus, including Anderson Paak, Smashing Pumpkins, Primus, and the 2010 snag of Bruno Mars (with the help of student-partner Liz Kim) for the Price Center Ballroom.

Smashing Pumpkins at RIMAC Arena, UCSD, 11/30/08

"Gossamer"

"Gossamer"

Ross was a part of the start-up team that designed the Loft, UCSD’s all-ages nightclub that opened in 2009.

“I was a part of a team that doesn’t really exist anymore at UCSD. A lot of my coworkers have gone to other states and other jobs,” says Ross.

Ultimately, he felt a lack of support was causing friction at the school.

“I’m very open-minded,” says Ross. “I love all styles of music. But the people I was working for didn’t share that open-mindedness. A lot of what I was experiencing in recent years at the Loft was a switch from concert programming to activities scheduling — I felt that things were getting watered down and I was losing inspiration and feeling the need for growth. It was harder to feel comfortable in that environment.”

Especially irksome to the higher-ups was his commitment to jazz.

“Too much jazz for the administration!” says Ross. “Jazz had become a bad word and was hurting my reputation at the school, which was sad because the room really worked well to showcase some of the faculty and grad students. We only did jazz once every three weeks or so, but if we made it more regular, I felt the administration was really coming down on me. There was the perception that I was doing something ‘wrong’.....

“In 2016, I received a ‘Jazz Promoter of the Year’ award, but I didn’t feel comfortable hanging it in my office because some people felt they didn’t want that kind of attention....

“It was time to move on, but I loved working with the students and the professors, so it was a tough decision. I moved to Newport Beach, and I’m booking larger rooms with bigger capacities, but I still have an address in San Diego and I’m still booking shows for the Music Box.”

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After attending UCSD back in the 90's when the Loft was reputably just a couple of couches at the end of a hallway for students to BYOB if they wanted and hardly any jazz occurred unless we could argue to get a student jazz combo playing there on a Sunday for example… into watching the music scene at the Loft turn into inviting folks like John Scofield and many other jazz legends over the past decade, wondering, whose behind all this?? Brian Ross, eh? Nice for him to move on… but too bad for us. Thanks for your hard work Brian!

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