Flugelhorn player and trumpeter born in Canada who had his own band in Manitoba in the early 1950s, He joined Tommy Dorsey on recordings such as “Bula Beige” and was performing live in Bangkok with Benny Goodman in 1956. He also worked with Tito Puente on albums such as 1957’s Night Beat and 1958’s Top Percussion.
In 1958, he was on the road and in the studio with Benny Goodman again and these recordings have been preserved on Benny in Brussels and Happy Session. He hooked up with Dizzy Gillespie in the early ’60s for his Carnegie Hall Concert and Gillespiana.
In 1962, he was in Moscow with Benny Goodman for; well, Benny Goodman in Moscow. Things got busy in 1962 with the release of Oscar Peterson’s album With Respect to Nat, the Oliver Nelson-Irene Reid collaboration Room for One More, and The In Instrumentals by Kai Winding. In 1966, John recorded Profiles with Gary McFarland. He was also featured on the Pee Wee Russell album, The Spirit of ’67. In 1968, he appeared on Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album. He got a taste of Grammy gold by appearing on Quincy Jones’ Walking in Space, which won the coveted award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance in 1969.
The turn of the decade found him recording Something with Tony Bennett. In 1971, he recorded White Rabbit with George Benson and Time to Fly with David Pomeranz. He hooked up with Deodato in the early ’70s on Prelude and Skyscrapers, released as Os Catedraticos 73 in Brazil. In 1974, he recorded Symbiosis with Bill Evans and Claus Ogerman and re-united with George Benson on Bad Benson. He also appeared on the economically titled Bill Evans albums, Two and Three.
From 25th July 1975 through 28th April 1990, he was a replacement trumpeter on the long-running Broadway musical, A Chorus Line. It did not slow his recording output much. In the mid-70s, he performed Towering Toccata with Lalo Schifrin and appeared on the Jimmy McGriff albums, The Mean Machine and Tailgunner. Other ’70s albums he played on include Ron Carter’s Parade, Bette Midler’s Thighs and Whispers, and Frank Sinatra’s boxed set, Trilogy.
He doesn’t seem to have been as prolific in the ’80s, although he was a member of The Tonight Show band and was still busy with A Chorus Line, and he did appear on at least two recordings, Digital Big Band Bash! and the Benny Goodman retrospective, The Yale University Library, Vol. 1: Never Before Released Recordings. In 1990, he appeared on the studio cast recording of George Gershwin’s Strike up the Band.
A year after the curtain closed on A Chorus Line, John was back in the orchestra pit for The Will Rogers Follies, which enjoyed a run of two years. Then, he turned right around and played trumpet for the Broadway musicals, The Red Shoes and Carousel. Somehow, he found time to perform on the soundtracks of Alan & Naomi, Bullets over Broadway, Everyone Says I Love You, Mighty Aphrodite, and The Mambo Kings. In 1996, he was a part of the mammoth Broadway revival of Chicago, which has survived with various casts and crews ever since. He ended the ’90s paired with a couple of sirens, Barbara Cook on All I Ask of You and Nancy LaMott on Listen to My Heart.
On 21st July 2004, he helped mark the retirement of Dick Hyman as the 92nd Street Y’s Jazz in July’s Artistic Director. He did similar honours for Bucky Pizzarelli at his 80th birthday bash, celebrated at Hunter College in New York as back of the JVC Jazz Festival. In January 2008, he was a member of Galt MacDermot’s New Pulse Jazz Band for three special performances at Manhattan’s West Bank Cafe.
Latter day CD releases featuring John include The Essential George Benson Collection, The Soul Jazz Grooves of Quincy Jones: Summer in the City, and Broadway’s Greatest Gifts, Volume 7: Carols for a Cure.
Frank Sinatra recordings
That’s What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan O’Kun)
Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)
Theme from “New York, New York” (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)
Here he performs with the Patrick Williams New York Big Band on “10th Avenue”…