Primary Instrument: Trumpet
Jon Pemberton is a Minneapolis/St. Paul based jazz musician, enjoying an active career as trumpeter, pianist, teacher and composer. Jon was born in the small town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota where his interest in music was evident at an early age. He began his musical studies with piano lessons at age 6. Guitar lessons followed at age 10, and trumpet studies began at age 11.
In these early years, Jon also sang and acted in local college productions. At the age of 12, Jon’s parents arranged auditions with local university piano professors. So while only in the seventh grade, Jon began traveling 2 hours round trip for weekly one hour piano lessons. During these early years, Jon also continued playing trumpet in the school band. In addition, he formed his first jazz combo with high school friends.
Upon graduating from high school, Jon moved to St. Paul to continue his musical studies at Macalester College. At Macalester, Jon was trumpet soloist and arranger for the Mac Jazz big band and section leader for the Macalester Symphony orchestra. In addition, he was a member of various jazz combos as well as pianist for the Macalester Dance Troupe. Jon graduated from Macalester with a degree in trumpet performance.
After graduating from college, Jon began a career in private teaching (brass and piano) which lasts to this day. He has taught thousands of students, many of whom perform in the area’s top youth orchestras, and some of whom have gone on to their own professional careers. Jon also began his performance career after graduating from college. In these years he focused on the trumpet, landing sideman gigs with many of the area’s top bands and musicians.
In addition, Jon formed his own jazz quintets, The PemberTones and Tribute to Lee Morgan, both heard regularly at the Artist’s Quarter, a top St. Paul jazz club. Jon returned to the piano when he had the good fortune of befriending local jazz piano giant, Bobby Peterson. Bobby generously offered Jon free jazz piano lessons. With his strong backgrounds in both classical piano technique and jazz trumpet improvisation, Jon proved a quick study, and was soon landing piano gigs in addition to trumpet gigs. In his quintet, The PemberTones, Jon alternated on trumpet and piano, while Bobby took turns on saxophone and piano. Jon has had regular piano gigs at the Zander Cafe and the Loring Pasta Bar.
In 2006, Jon was hired as music director for Mercy Seat Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. During his two and a half year tenure, Jon composed 3 original jazz liturgies. He was also in charge of hiring the best local jazz talent for the weekly services. Over the years, Jon has been featured as sideman on many recordings, including: George Avaloz “The Highest Mountain,” John Devine “A Little o’ That,” Mike Olson “Incidental,” SkaTet “Skarmegeddon” and “American Ska-thic,” Recessive Traits “Sex Cells,” Paul Renz “Everlasting,” Natalie Lovejoy “Wish I could Fall,” and John David “Letters from America.”
Jon released his debut CD in 2010. Entitled On the Edge, it’s a swingin’ piano trio featuring 8 original compositions, 2 Bobby Peterson tunes and a Monk classic. Jon gets excellent support from first-call Twin Cities sidemen, Gary Raynor (bass) and Jay Epstein (drums).
Jon continues to perform and teach today.
“With the release of On The Edge, Pemberton will definitely be leading a double life. And that's selling him short. Pianist - trumpeter - composer, the man from St. Paul is officially a triple threat.” --Tom Surowicz