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 Wednesday, 25 November 2015
John Raymond: Midwest Tour Stops at the Dakota and Artists Quarter PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Tuesday, 10 May 2011

John RaymondİAndrea Canter

Twin Cities native, New York-based trumpeter John Raymond will be touring the Midwest this spring (May 9-29) with stops at both the Dakota Jazz Club (May 14) and the Artists Quarter (May 15), as well as presenting clinics at Champlin Park and Eastview High Schools (May 13) and at Hopkins and Edina High Schools (May 16). Now in his mid-20s, John has covered a lot of ground since 5th grade trumpet lessons and all-state jazz camp. 

After starting trumpet in fifth grade, John moved on to playing in school jazz ensembles in early junior high. In addition to his high school bands at Hopkins High School, John participated in the All-State Jazz Band Camp in Duluth, where he met University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire jazz instructor Robert Baca. Recalls John, “After the camp was the first time I really knew I had to practice to become a musician, and I had to practice a lot… so from that point on I was playing 3-5 hours a day on all sorts of classical, jazz, funk music - pretty much anything I could get my hands on.” At UW-EC, John played in the top band and top jazz ensemble from his first semester and toured China in late 2006; he also had the opportunity to perform with Jeremy Walker’s Jazz Is Now! Orchestra in Minneapolis while just a college freshman, and with Maria Schneider at the 2005 UW-EC Jazz Festival. He also studied with the great Terell Stafford.  

While balancing classes and college bands, John also found time to start his first band with cohorts from Eau Claire, The John Raymond Project, releasing a recording in spring 2006 and appearing at the Bryant Lake Bowl and Dakota Jazz Club. He also played in the Twin Cities with the Yohannes Tona Band, toured with Darnell Davis and the Minneapolis-based gospel group, Remnant, and founded the Twin Cities Horns, an ensemble that frequently joined Cuban piano dynamo Nachito Herrera and recorded on three Grammy-nominated songs for R&B singers Ann Nesby and Calvin Richardson.  He also served as horn arranger for Herrera and appeared with Herrera’s band at the Austin City Limits Festival and Toast of the Nation (2008). In 2009, John was a finalist in the jazz category of the National Trumpet Competition.   

Adam LarsonİWill Boisture
After college graduation in 2009, John made the move to New York, enrolling in graduate studies at the State University of New York at Purchase, just outside the city. John’s experience at Purchase has been quite fruitful. In addition to playing lead trumpet for the university big band, he’s studied with acclaimed trumpeter Jon Faddis, who arranged time for John to record a demo at the famed Bennett Studios in New Jersey—with fellow Twin Citian Javier Santiago on piano. “Definitely the highlight of being at Purchase has been the opportunity to be in New York City, above all else,” says John. “I knew coming in that this was one of my primary objectives for going to grad school, and being immersed the city’s incredibly creative music environment has been so influential on my playing and mostly on how I think about music as a whole. I’ve been forced to raise my bar more times than I can count. …It has been great to be taught by people like Jon Faddis, Todd Coolman, John Abercrombie, Scott Wendholt, John Riley etc. Just to be around these musicians that are all working on the highest level has taught me so much, again mainly regarding the conceptual part of music -- concentration, deeper aspects of interplay…getting more and more to the essence of the music.”

Just being in the vicinity of the Big Apple has brought many gigging opportunities for the John Raymond Project, including a late set at the famed Iridium Jazz Club in February. Another high point recently was reaching his funding goal via Kickstarter to support a recording project. “Although I did a self-produced album in 2005 (early in my UW-Eau Claire program), this will be my first full-length record. The music will be mostly all original compositions that I’ve written in the past two years and I’ll be having some amazing up-and-coming musicians on it--Javier, Raviv Markovitz (who’ll be on tour with me) and Cory Cox on drums. I’m also getting the opportunity to have Jon Faddis produce the CD as well having guitarist Gilad Hekselman, alto saxophonist Tim Green (runner-up in the Monk competition a few years ago) and pianist Gerald Clayton play on it as well.”

Now John heads to the Midwest with a New York-based quintet that he co-leads with tenor saxophonist Adam Larson. Joining them will be German-born guitarist and composer Nils Weinhold, bassist Raviv Markovitz, and Nils’ brother, drummer Bastian Weinhold. “The touring group consists of all guys my age that I’ve met as I’ve been in the scene here in NY,” explains John. “I’ve played a lot with each of them in different settings and had all of them in my band at different times, but this is the first time that we’re all coming together in this format. Because of this there’s a certain comfort level between all of us that really enhances our interaction and the overall group sound, which has already made the music come together really quickly…We will be doing a mix of compositions from each band member based in the modern jazz vein, most of them certainly influenced by other genres (alt rock, pop, hip hop, and folk musics)…We will also be intertwining some re-done and re-twisted jazz standards, some Stevie Wonder tunes and possibly a Bob Marley or Michael Jackson tune as well.” 

John RaymondİAndrea Canter
The band started off at Puppet’s and the Shrine in Manhattan, and now heads to stops in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, including a May 23rd date at Jazz Showcase in Chicago. In the Twin Cities area, John will be leading clinics in four high schools. Although he enjoys teaching, recent school and work scheduling has not allowed him much time to be on the other side of the classroom. “Unfortunately, due to an extremely busy year with finishing a Master’s, prepping for the tour, planning an album recording, etc., I haven’t had the opportunity to teach much at all this year. However I did teach last summer at the SUNY Purchase Summer Jazz Workshop (which was our inaugural year) and I’ll be on that again this summer. We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to set up as many clinics and workshops as we can for the tour. Each clinic will have a slightly different focus (depending on the school and what the director feels would be most beneficial for their students), but we plan to work with students on the fundamentals of improvisation, group interplay and what it means to really express yourself through music, and through jazz music in particular.”

This edition of the John Raymond Project will be on stage for Late Night at the Dakota on May 14, 11:30 pm; they move across the river to the Artists Quarter for a Sunday night gig on May 15 with sets at 7 and 9:30 pm. Read more about John at

The Dakota is located at 1010 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis; The Artists Quarter is located at 408 St. Peter Street in the lower level of the Hamm building in downtown St. Paul; This article adapted from the May issue of CODA. 

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