Primary Instrument: Flute
John began performing Afro-Latin and jazz music as a teenager in San Francisco's Mission district, a spawning ground for many top West Coast performers of Latin music, such as Karl Perrazo, Rebeca Mauleon and John Santos. Originally a percussionist, John quickly branched out into woodwinds, trombone and piano, eventually focusing on the flute. He also began arranging music at a young age, having studied with Mark Levine. John resided in New York during the 1980s performing with Manny Oquendo's Libre, Charanga 76, Oscar Hernandez and Jerry and Andy Gonzalez. John also earned a Bachelors degree in music from the City College of New York.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, John has built a solid foundation as a musician, arranger-composer and educator. His credits as a performer/arranger include work with Israel Cachao Lopez, Omar Sosa, Pete Escovedo, Max Roach, Chocolate Armenteros, Carlos Patato Valdez, Jesus Diaz, Quique Cruz, Wayne Wallace, Rebeca Mauleon and John Santos. He is also a founding member of the Grammy nominated Machete Ensemble led by John Santos, having written and arranged much of their material. John has performed throughout the United States and around the world, including Europe (with Cachao), Cuba and the Caribbean (with John Santos), Asia and the Philippines (with Kulingtang Arts), Colombia, and Venezuela. He has most recently spent considerable time in Chile for two different projects: with the jazz group Quirejema on a multimedia presentation entitled Archaelogy of Memory, about the effects of art on those tortured during the 1970s; and with Teatro ArcoIris of San Francisco State University, performing Poeta Pan, a multimedia theatre piece on the life and poetry of Pablo Neruda.
Dave Valentin, 2003 Grammy WinnerThe Gathering
Diaspora (Bombo Music)
The flute of John Calloway helped to spark a Caribbean musical renaissance in the 1970s, as part of the neo-traditionalist band Tipica Cienfuegos. With a cast that included John Santos, Greg Landau, Anthony Blea and others, this Bay Area band bred leaders and inspired its members to dig into the history of their instruments in the Cuban and Puerto Rican traditions. Calloway was bitten by the charanga bug and Left for New York City in 1980 to explore. He returned periodically, in between his studies and stints with Manny Oquendo & Libre, Charanga 76, Oscar Hernandez, Jimmy Bosch and others, to write, record and sit in with Batachanga, the evolutionary offshoot of Tipica Cienfuegos. His joining Batachanga for their second album, Mañana Para Los Niños, marked Calloway's return to the Bay Area music scene in the late 1980s. It was there that he exhibited his creative side as an arranger and composer. Since then, his work as co-director of the acclaimed Machete Ensemble and a long string of resident salsa bands has been formidable. As a full time music teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District, he has nurtured many young students and maintains an aura as a behind-the-scenes guy.
Now at long last, Calloway has come out of the shadows with Diaspora, an excellent debut recording that resonates with his musical life experiences. Offering 10 original compositions that illustrate his affection for jazz and Afro-Latin themes, he chronicles the sagas of 24th St. & Mission (El Gato) as well as his NYC days (Velero Sin Timón) and his Cuban present (La Habana). A seasoned improviser who can play a soulful funk-blues style (a la Hubert Laws or Herbie Mann), as well as traditional danzón textures, he creates ethereal, soothing melodies, and intense, hard-driving improvisations.
What John Calloway showcases here is a Home Stew, that like the tune that features African American gospel singer Joey Blake and sonero Orlando Torriente, speaks to a cultural composite we all become as our own historical Diaspora unfolds and is reshaped by the environments of our communities. Adding to the rainbow are friends Omar Sosa, Rebeca Mauleón Santana, Jesus Diaz, Edgardo Cambón, John Santos, Orestes Vilato and many others. This is music that speaks to the spirit and demonstrates the gifts of this unsung musical artist. With the guidance of executive producer Manuel Velasco, this is a recording that could sprout wings. (JV)
Jesse Chuy Varela Latin Beat Magazine, December/January 2002
John Calloway’s musical talent is on full display on Diaspora. John’s flute playing on this CD is outstanding. His concept and sound on the flute although influenced by the great Latin/Latin-jazz flautists of the past is uniquely all his own and he should be included when we speak of the great Latin- jazz flautists of today. As if this were not enough, John shows how prolific he is by composing and arranging most of the songs and also by playing some piano and percussion. As much as this CD is a testament to John’s talent, the excellent music you hear would not have been possible without the team of musicians who contributed their talent to make the great music heard on this CD. Oscar Hernandez New York. 2002
Editor's Pick: One of my favorite current Latin jazz projects, this debut release from flautist and pianist John Calloway features a first-rate lineup including Michael Spiro, John Santos, David Belove, Rebeca Mauleón-Santana and other West Coast heavy-hitters. Danceable, and highly recommended.
Bruce Polin DESCARGA.com, November 9, 2001
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San Francisco, CA
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Consultations and Productions: John is able to advise you on many aspects of music production, helping you get the sound you desire through the right music, instrumentation and musicians. He can get you started on "that sound or concept in your head" regardless of the level of experience you may have. He can also fully produce or co-produce any CD or demo project you are interested in doing, which can include arranging to contracting the musicians to recording director of the session. Composing and Arranging Work: John is available as an arranger and composer to provide you with almost any music you need, whether they are adaptations or new arrangements of previously composed or published work, your own original ideas and compositions or commissioned works for hire. They can be provided in any form or medium you prefer, from hard copy, computer produced charts to midi files and audio-tapes. Specific Services Offered: Lead sheets Transcriptions Small combo arrangements