The John Jorgenson Quintet features guitarist John Jorgenson, a founding member of the Desert Rose Band, the Hellecasters, and six-year member of Elton John’s band. Artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Bonnie Raitt to Earl Scruggs have sought out Jorgenson’s guitar work. Recently, John Jorgenson was chosen to portray Django Reinhardt in the feature film Head in the Clouds.
At a John Jorgenson Quintet performance, audiences are amazed by John’s dazzling guitar work as well as his mastery as a clarinet player and vocalist. Whether playing his own accessible compositions or classic standards, John and his band make music that is equally romantic and ecstatic, played with virtuosity and soul.
John Jorgenson is known as one of the pioneers of the American gypsy jazz movement. He has performed as a solo artist as well as collaborated with other musicians all over the world. His articles and lessons on gypsy jazz have appeared in prominent guitar magazines and he has given master classes around the country, and he has performed with some of the most respected European proponents of this style, Bireli Lagrene and Romane. His playing has been included on a CD with Babik Reinhardt and Jimmy Rosenberg, and on another featuring Angelo Debarre and Moreno. In 1988 Curb Records released Jorgenson’s After You’ve Gone CD, a collection of Reinhardt- and Goodman-styled 30’s swing, featuring guest artists Darol Anger and David Grisman.
Growing up in Southern California, John was playing both the piano and the clarinet by age 8. At 12 he got his first guitar and practiced voraciously while continuing to study classical music on woodwinds. By age 14, John was playing professionally. Learning first to play rock guitar, John absorbed other guitar styles as quickly as he discovered them. This broad musical palette has enabled him to play with artists as diverse as Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt, and Benny Goodman. He is an “A-List” session player working in LA, Nashville and London and has appeared on numerous platinum-selling and Grammy-winning CDs.
John Jorgenson first came to national prominence in the mid 1980’s with The Desert Rose Band, which he co-founded with Chris Hillman. The band earned five # 1 singles and garnered several awards. During this time, John won the ACM’s “Guitarist of the Year” award three consecutive times. Following the Desert Rose Band, John formed another award-winning group, the virtuosic guitar trio The Hellecasters. Originally conceived as a “one off” gig for fun, the group went on to produce three acclaimed CDs and a live video, winning both “Album of the Year” and “Country Album of the Year” from the readers of Guitar Player Magazine for the stunning debut effort Return of the Hellecasters, released in 1993.
In 1994 Elton John called and invited John on an 18-month world tour. The 18 months stretched into a six-year period that included not only sold out world tours, but also recordings, television appearances, and collaborations with many other artists including Sting and Billy Joel. In additiona to acoustic and electric guitars, John was also featured on saxophone, pedal steel, mandolin and vocals.
Although John Jorgenson is well-renowned in the pop, country and rock world, gypsy jazz is the style of music closest to his heart. Because of his international reputation as a gypsy jazz player, John was twice asked to recreate Django Reinhardt’s music for feature films, Gattica and Head in The Clouds. The latter, released in early 2005 and starring Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz, features John on camera as Django Reinhardt, complete with burned hand and gypsy moustache.
2004 also marked the release of Franco-American Swing on J2/FGM Records. As John Jorgenson’s latest creative work, the CD is full of infectious gypsy jazz music. The Nashville Chamber Orchestra joins John in this collection of original compositions and gypsy jazz classics, pushing the boundaries as it adds to the tonal palette of traditional gypsy jazz. Beautiful melodies and soulful virtuosity abound for listeners treated to John Jorgenson’s dazzling fretwork and sizzling clarinet playing. Additionally, John released two gypsy jazz guitar instruction books and DVDs, and a third instruction book is due to come out later this year.
Currently living in Nashville, John tours worldwide playing gypsy jazz with The John Jorgenson Quintet. He also performs in the UK with his electric band, John Jorgenson & Friends, and continues to collaborate with other artists live and in the studio.
John Jorgenson – leadguitar
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