Raised in California but a New York City resident for more than 20years, John began his musical adventures playing flute, accordion and then clarinet in grade school. Although he continued his clarinet studies into the 10th grade, his older brother Roger introduced him to the guitar at age 12. “Ì pretty much did whatever he did so I gave it a shot.”
He found that he add an affinity for the instrument and progressed rapidly first learning folk music and then current pop tunes of the day. At 13 the family purchased an FM radio and the first artist John heard was Wes Montgomery playing Bumpin on Sunsetî. “The old jazz station in LA was KBCA and the first DJ. I heard on the station was jazz great Gerald Wilson. He played some Wes that day, Horace Silver and Clifford Brown. My folks were not into music per se, so the radio became my portal into the world of jazz as well as funk, r&b and classical music.”
By the age of 20 he was the first call guitarist for the Grammy winning Gerald Wilson Orchestra playing alongside such legendary musicians as Harold Land, Snooky Young and Marshal Royal. Having studied guitar privately for many years with Duke Miller (founder of the Studio Guitar Dept. at the University of Southern California) John also sought instruction from several LA guitar greats that include Joe Pass, Jimmy Wyble and Ted Green. “I also got to hang and get to know Lenny Breau a little bit and he showed me some cool things. He was a brilliant and sensitive human being who we lost much too soon”. His musical associations led to further work in nightclubs, touring and eventually session work, playing on numerous recordings and televisions shows.
As a studio musician and live jazz performer he has worked with most of the West Coast luminaries including Tom Scott, Art Pepper, Al Jarreau, Warne Marsh, the Condole Bros, Pete Jolly, Bissonette Bros., Buddy Collete, Rick Braun, Dean Parks, Snooky Young ,Chuck Berghoffer, Plas Johnson, Pete Christlieb and many others.. In 1991 he moved to New York and shortly afterward scored a #1 contemporary jazz national radio hit on the Mac Report with his band, Uncle Festive, The band recorded six albums and scored many top 5 and top 10 radio hits.
In the mid 90ís his band Jazzhole was signed to Mesa-Blue Atlantic records and is considered one of the seminal groups in the acid jazz genre recording five albums and an ep to date. The band is still active and recording. “I’ve been a clinician for Yamaha Music and have been an endorsee of their products as well as for Ibanez guitars and strings. In addition to the clinic work I’ve also taught privately in my own studio, Concordia College (where I taught guitar and jazz workshop classes) and at College of The Canyons (Los Angeles). ”I've also taught a music technology class for two years at the New School...something quite different for me, a challenge but rewarding nonetheless."John has also worked as a consultant for the Head Start music and movement program in the Bronx since 2001 developing an organic, fun and educational music experience for underprivileged 3 and 4 year olds.
In 1999 he and Uncle Festive pal and co-writer Ron Pedley were signed by Tommy Lipuma and Bud Harner to the Vervemusicgroup and their band Kombo, an organ/guitar based duo, had a top 10 smooth jazz hit on their debut album, “The Big Blast.” Their music has been particularly popular in Japan ever since and has regularly been used on many national television shows and radio programming as well.
In 2004 he played rhythm guitar on Geroge Benson's “Take You Out” which was nominated for a best Pop Instrumental Grammy. “I’ve had a varied carreer as an educator, pop and jazz musician, television composer and producer. Jazz and improvised music however are, and have been my first loves since I was a teenager.”
“I’m very excited about my latest project, which happens to be my first solo album with Scott Colley on bass and Marivaldo Dos Santos on percussion. I feel like I’m finally following my own path and not thinking about outside music business pressure. Recording with just a trio was a big challenge for me. Scott and Marivaldo are incredibly supportive as players and friends so the experience was really great. The music has a decidedly Brazilian vibe but with some unexpected twists and turns. Dave Binney is on three cuts playing his familiar alto on one and flute (sounds cool!) on two tracks.”
Other artists he has recorded, toured or accompanied live are: George Benson, Bob James, Barry Manilow, Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Englebert Humperdink, Gerry Mulligan, Rick Braun, Carmen McRae, Dave Koz, Art Pepper, Soul Ballet, Al Jarreau, Aretha Franklin, Paul Anka, Kirk Whalum, Dave Binney, Scott Colley, Daniel Sadownick, David Sancious, George Young, Uptown Horns, Randy Brecker, Steve Ferrone, Melissa Manchester, Wayman Tisdale.