Wayne Nelson moved to California from Duluth, Minnesota with his family in 1951. He attended elementary and high schools in the Long Beach Unified School District. He began playing trombone in the 5th grade-his first teacher was Robert Simmegran. He graduated from Lakewood H.S. in 1960 and enrolled as a music/social science major at CSLB, graduating in 1964. While at Long Beach State, he was drum major of the ‘49er Marching Band. The jazz portion of CSLB at that time was relegated to a “secret” practice room in the corner of the second floor of the music building. We gathered and talked and played. There was no formal program at that time.
Wayne taught in middle schools and high schools in Orange County for 40 years, initiating jazz bands and jazz festivals at Katella H.S., Cypress H.S., and Esperanza H.S. Wayne is an honorary life member of the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association- having served on their Board of Directors for 15 years in various positions, including President and Vice President of Jazz Education.
He is an active judge and clinician for jazz, concert, parade, and field. Wayne has been the conductor for the SCSBOA Middle School Jazz All Stars three times and managed the SCSBOA and All State Jazz Bands six times. He was awarded the “Jazz Educator of the Year” Award from Fullerton Community College in 2006, the year of his retirement. He is currently the music director for the Leisure World Orchestra in Seal Beach, CA. He resides in Cyprus, CA with his wife Alice, where they dote on their seven grandchildren ages 3-11. Wayne is truly honored by his inclusion into the CAJ Hall of Fame.