Jon began playing guitar at the age of 14 learning songs by the Beatles and classic R & B artists. At 15 Jon joined Eastview High School’s (EVHS) Jazz Ensemble Three, progressing to the top band the following year. The Jazz bands gave him the opportunity to play in a wide variety of venues and styles. The EVHS Jazz Band traveled to the Rolling Meadows Jazz Festival in Chicago where they won second place with Jon winning a soloist award for a solo guitar arrangement of the classic jazz song “Misty” for solo guitar. The Jazz Band also played in two productions of Eastview’s Bravo; a show comprised of multiple styles from Irish jigs to christmas music all based around a general theme. Jon also played in several EVHS musical productions.
After high school Jon continued his studies of music at Normandale Community College. During his freshmen year Jon began studying classical guitar with Jeff Thygeson (MM) (formally of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet). As a student at Normandale Jon played in several different jazz combos and pop bands including two performances with the Normandale Community College Jazz Band. After a year of study at Normandale Community College Jon transferred to the University of St. Thomas (UST).
Jon spent his time at UST pursuing a B. A. in music and a minor in economics. Jon's performances at UST included 2 solo classical and jazz guitar recitals and 4 performances with the UST guitar ensemble on upright bass. In addition to his guitar and upright bass performances, Jon performed in the UST and Macalaster college's african drum ensembles and also sang bass/baritone in the UST choir's performance of Mozart’s Requiem Mass and the choir's annual christmas concert. In the winter of 2010 Jon played guitar in the UST annual christmas concert.
Jon’s primary focus at UST was classical guitar, which he studied with Jeff Thygeson (MM, formerly of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet) and Christopher Kachian (DMA). Jon won a competition in the Fall of 2010 that lead to a performance at the Roland Deyen's Master Class held and sponsored by the Minnesota Guitar Society that Fall. Jon also studied jazz and Latin guitar, upright bass, and electric bass with Joan Griffith. In addition to performing, Jon also composed regularly during his undergraduate years. As a freshmen he wrote the jazz song "Far From Home" which he later arranged for guitar, violin, bass, drums, and piano and recorded at Creation Audio Labs in Minneapolis. Jon composed two works for piano: a theme and variations in C major titled "Variations on a Theme for Noel" and a rondo in D minor.
Jon Wood is currently an active professional musician in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with performances on guitar, electric and upright bass, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, and cajon. Venues Jon has performed at include Jazz Central Studios in Minneapolis for their Monday Night Artist Feature and Thursday Night Vocal Series, the Artist's Quarter in St. Paul, the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog, The St. Paul Art Crawl, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater and School, Honey Restaurant, Bedlam Theater, Thursday Musical, Minnesota Public Radio's KBEM 88.5, and a performance at Orchestra Hall that was nationally re-broadcast by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT).
Jon regularly performs for private parties, weddings, musicals, and restaurants. Jon is currently a member of the Cedar Avenue Big Band, The Jazz on The Prairie Big Band, and a regular sub for four other big bands in the Twin Cities area including Acme Jazz Company Big Band. Jon has experience performing in pit orchestras across the Twin Cities and has performed on guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele, and banjo in Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma, Shrek, and several other musical productions. In addition to being a member of several bands, Jon is also the leader of two of his own ensembles: Iron Chops, a jazz group comprising his original music and arrangements of standards, and Strange Ear Riddle, a classical music ensemble. The most compelling element of Jon's performances are the diverse range of styles he plays: classical, jazz, gypsy jazz, tango, Mediterranean music, Latin jazz, bossa nova and samba, flamenco, blues, R & B, rock & roll, pop, folk, blue grass, country and more.
Along with his performing background, Jon is also involved in music education. As a private studio instructor Jon teaches a several styles of music on guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele (all instruments on which he has had professional performing experience). Along with private instruction, Jon also has taught at Schmitt Music in Wayzata and Groth Music in Bloomington. Jon was an assistant instructor at University of St. Thomas (UST) in the spring of 2012 for the guitar pedagogy class for music education majors and he directed the UST guitar ensemble in their Fall 2011 performances. Jon was a graduate assistant at Illinois State University (ISU) where he taught guitar to music therapy and music education majors, directed a guitar small ensemble, and handled other administrative duties for the department and the ISU guitar society. During grad school Jon was also an adjunct professor for guitar and bass at Lincoln College in Lincoln Illinois.
In addition to teaching, Jon's studies also included an independent studies research project on guitar pedagogy and technique that he is currently working on turning into a book. While in graduate school, Jon has had the opportunity to study privately with Rene Izquerdo at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where Jon developed a deeper understanding of classical guitar technique. Jon received a masters degree in classical guitar performance at ISU and graduated in spring 2017. Jon moved back to Minnesota and continues to perform and teach throughout the Twin Cities area.
Jon Wood at an ISU masterclass.
Jon has three CDs that you can hear and download on this website under "Album and Band" featuring his original jazz compositions (Far From Home), a solo classical guitar album (Chitarra Sonata), and a live album of Jon's band "Iron Chops" (Iron Chops Live at Jazz Central). Jon was interviewed about both of his studio albums by Phil Nusbaum on Minnesota Public Radio's KBEM 88.5fm jazz radio station for their Twin Cities Weekend series (Jazz88, http://jazz88.mpls.k12.mn.us/ ). You can hear that interview here:
Jon's Awards for performance include a jazz solo award from the Rolling Meadows Jazz Festival, 2 University of St.Thomas Academic Scholarship for music performance, and a competition winner at the Roland Deyens master class, sponsored by the Minnesota Guitar Society. In the spring of 2014 Jon made it to the final round of the Schubert Club's Annual Competition. Jon was awarded a full tuition waiver plus stipend for his masters degree at ISU and graduated with 3.8 GPA.
In addition to his recoding projects, Jon recently became a performing member for Thursday Musical (http://www.thursdaymusical.org/) and was also featured at the Minnesota Jazz Guitar Summit, an event held at Jazz Central Studios in Minneapolis in January 2015 featuring some of the top jazz guitarists in the Twin Cities area.