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 including Fiddler on the Roof.
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, 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 at Orchestra Hall; a performance which was broadcast nationally by KTCA public television. 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. Recently Jon has focused primarily on composing a mix of pop and jazz songs for guitar and voice. Jon's pop song "Make Me Feel" and his jazz song "Red Fox" can both be heard in the composition section of this website.
Since graduating from St. Thomas, Jon has been an active professional musician in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with performances on guitar, electric 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 School and Theater, 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 guitar/mandolin/ukulele/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, flamenco, blues, R & B, rock & roll, pop, folk, blue grass, country and more.
In addition to an extensive performing background, Jon is also involved in music education. Jon has studied with many musicians including Rene Izquerdo, Roland Deyans, Andrew Zohn, Christopher Kachian, Jeff Thygeson, Jeffry Van, Michael Hauser, Joan Griffith, Reuben Ristrom. As a private studio instructor Jon takes his knowledge from studying with great musicians and teachers and applies it to the teaching a multitude of styles on guitar, electric bass, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele (all instruments on which he has had professional performing experience). Along with private instruction, Jon has also 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 is currently a graduate assistant at Illinois State University (ISU) where he teaches courses on guitar performance, directs a guitar small ensemble, and handles other administrative duties. Jon is currently pursuing his masters in classical guitar performance at ISU and will be graduating in spring 2017. While in graduate school, Jon has had the opportunity to study privately with Rene Izquerdo at University of Wisconsin Milwuakee where Jon has developed a deeper understanding of classical guitar technique.
Jon has just released three recordings this year (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.
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.