Primary Instrument: Bass
John V. Brown, Jr., leader of the John Brown Quintet and double bass player, is a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is a graduate of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. John began studying the bass with Susan Ellington when he was nine years old and has been performing professionally since his teens.
“I was always surrounded by music when I was young, and I especially loved my mother’s playing,” John says from his home in Durham, North Carolina. His mother plays the piano, and he remembers being inspired to take up the bass after watching the Duke Ellington Orchestra perform on television. Beginning with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra at thirteen, he filled the role of Principal Bass with that orchestra while still in high school. John studied with Craig Brown and John Cubbage of the North Carolina Symphony and with Daniel Swaim and Pam Andrews at Brevard Music Center in the summer of 1987. At UNC-Greensboro he studied with Jack Budrow, and while still an undergraduate, he began performing with the North Carolina Symphony. In college, John developed a great love for jazz and began pursuing careers in both jazz and classical music. He honed his skills over the next dozen years, performing the world over, and in 2004 formed the John Brown Quintet.
Terms of Art: A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers is the 2007 John Brown Quintet debut CD release, quickly followed by Merry Christmas, Baby just in time for the holidays. Two more CD releases are planned for 2008.
John has performed in the United States and abroad with artists Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Elvin Jones, Diahann Carroll, Nell Carter, Rosemary Clooney, Lou Donaldson, Frank Foster, David Fathead Newman, Nicholas Payton, Cedar Walton, Fred Wesley, Mark Whitfield and Nnenna Freelon, and he boasts a Grammy nomination for his performance and cowriting on Nnenna Freelon's 1996 Concord release, Shaking Free. His extensive experience includes performances at notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Blue Note, the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl, as well as major jazz festivals including the Playboy Jazz Festival, the JVC Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival and Jazz à Vienne.
Equally gifted in other areas of performance, John has acted in major theater productions, among them the Japan tour of Blues in the Night with Roz Ryan and Freda Payne, shows at the National Black Theater Festival, the Broadway Series South and off-Broadway performances. John made his acting debut in 1991 when he costarred in the role of Jimmy Powers (rewritten for John as a bassist) in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill at the Broach Theatre and performed in the same show (as the performing bassist) with Jackee Harry. On the big screen, John appeared in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Stompin' at the Savoy, Radioland Murders, Hellraiser III and Bolden, due out in theaters in 2008. Among John's recording credits is the soundtrack for Moon over Miami for ABC, done with Delfeayo Marsalis.
John currently serves as a professor and director of the Jazz Program at Duke University. He conducts the Duke Jazz Ensemble, coaches jazz combos and teaches academic courses. He also teaches applied bass at North Carolina State University and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where his other responsibilities have included conducting jazz bands, coaching jazz combos and conducting orchestra sectionals. Prior to his current positions, John taught at North Carolina Central University and Guilford College, Greensboro, N.C. John maintains a very active performing and recording life with the John Brown Quintet and regular performances with the North Carolina Symphony, the Opera Company of North Carolina and the Carolina Ballet. John also conducts the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble for high school students across the North Carolina Triangle.
John plays a 1929 Hawkes double bass that he purchased in 1992 from veteran musician and jazz bassist Charles Dungey. John officially endorses Acoustic Image amplifiers, AMT microphones, Pirastro Strings and Warwick basses, amplifiers and loudspeakers.
John serves on the Boards of Directors of the American Federation of Musicians, the North Carolina Jazz Foundation and the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program. He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM).
Web site: www.JBJazz.com