John was born in Santa Barbara, California, but after growing up mainly in the Inland Empire, and lots of travel, eight years in Boston and twenty years in Los Angeles, he returned full circle to Santa Barbara in 2002. He studied music at UC Riverside and U Mass Boston in the 1970s. His performing experience includes gigs with jazz and latin music artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Stagnaro, Justo Almario, Luis Conte, Alex Acuna, Michito Sanchez, Nate Birkey and Cougar Estrada, and a concert with Aretha Franklin in 2005 in the Santa Barbara Bowl. John toured with artists such as the Pointer Sisters, Donald O'Connor, and Eddie Fisher in the 1970s and 80s.
John has recorded extensively in commercial and artistic settings, including original solo piano works, accompanying singers in original songs and songs by other composers, and albums by jazz and latin music artists, including Los Angeles bands Bongo Logic, the L.A. Salsa Society and Present Tense. He played piano and did arranging and orchestrations for the upcoming classical-latin fusion CD by Santa Barbara area soprano Stephanie Sivers. In the 1980s he worked and recorded with Salvadoran nueva cancion artists Chiltic Istac and Lolo of Cutamay Camones in the Central American solidarity movement, and in the 1990s with LA's popular Cuban charanga band, Charangoa.
John has extensive experience in musical theatre, including stints as musical director and/or pianist for school productions of Guys & Dolls, Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story and Most Happy Fella (Xaverian Brothers HS, Boston); Moby Dick the Musical, Kiss Me Kate, Beauty and the Beast and Annie (Dos Pueblos HS, Goleta); The Boyfriend, Fiddler on the Roof, Anything Goes and Pirates of Penzance (Goleta Valley JHS); Once on this Island (Laguna Blanca HS, Santa Barbara); West Side Story (La Cumbre JHS, SB); There's a Door in My Room, The Wiz, Alice in Wonderland and Guys & Dolls (Performing & Visual Arts Camp, SB); Peter Pan, Seussical and The Wizard of Oz (Stage Left, Goleta); Hair, A Village Fable, Music of the Night, Footloose, Pinocchio (Santa Barbara HS). He traveled to Europe with SBHS's production of Hair, which was performed to sold out shows in the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh Scotland (summer 2008). He recorded solo piano and orchestrated tracks for Circle Bar B Dinner Theater's production of I Remember You (2008) and served as music director/pianist for Tony and the Soprano at Circle Bar B (summer 2009). Also this past summer John worked with PCPA, Santa Maria, as rehearsal pianist for their production of The Spitfire Grill, and with Ensemble Theatre as audition pianist for Gunmetal Blues. He is currently working as music director/orchestra conductor/rehearsal pianist for DPHS's production of Curtains, set to open March 12, 2010.
John's composing and songwriting credits include music for songs and scenes in A Village Fable (SBHS 2008), and music and songs for Otto Layman's original adaptation of Pinocchio (SBHS 2009). He wrote songs and scene music for There's a Door in My Room (PVAC 2006), Being Human (City at Peace 2007), Esperanza's Box: Stories of Hope (CAP 2008) and Suenos Sin Destinos (CAP 2009). He composed the music for two songs in Circle Bar B Dinner Theater's fall 2009 production of Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, and school songs for Brandon and Ellwood Schools, Goleta, and Harding Elementary School, Santa Barbara. He does arranging for jazz combos at DPHS and SBCC, and composes and arranges for elementary school band programs.
Since 2003 John has worked as a substitute teacher and music teacher in Santa Barbara and Goleta schools. He conducts a jazz seminar and teaches jazz piano at Westmont College, directs the Goleta Valley JHS jazz band, and accompanies the GVJHS performing arts class. He regularly accompanies the Dos Pueblos HS concert choir and theatre classes. He is on staff at SB City College as accompanist for Nathan Kreitzer's vocal performance classes and Ike Jenkins' jazz choir.
John plays regularly for Sunday morning and afternoon services at Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church in Goleta. He regularly performs as a solo pianist and with singers and bands in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, and accompanies his teenage daughter, Fernanda, at retirement homes in the Santa Barbara area. Nanda is active in musical theatre and jazz choir, and plays piano, mallets, flute and guitar. John's teenage son John–Paul plays classical works on piano, and trumpet in his high school jazz, marching and concert bands, as well as in bands at SBCC.
John's older son Walter is program director/assistant station manager at KUCR, the University of California at Riverside radio station. http://kucr.org/. Walt is an inventive artist who creates electronic soundscapes which transcend their dance–trance/industrial music roots. He plays keyboards and drums, and records and performs under the name "Biomass." Some of his music can be heard at http://profile.myspace.com/biomass. Walt has been performing live regularly in the Riverside area progressive music scene. John's older daughter Lisa also lives in the Inland Empire. She loves music and geckos, and volunteers regularly helping patients in the VA Hospital in Loma Linda.