John Klemmer is an enigma to many. He seems to be a “different artist” to “different people” depending on which musical direction & time period of Klemmer’s music they are attached to, are aware of & prefer.
John Klemmer began playing guitar at age 5. After interests in graphics and visual art studying at The Art Institute of Chicago & with ambitions of being Dancer, Puppeteer, Painter, Sculptor, Writer, & Poet. He began Alto Sax at age 11, switching to Tenor Sax when entering High School. He spent years of extensive private lessons in Piano, Conducting, Harmony & Theory, Composition, Arranging, Clarinet, Flute, & Classical & Jazz Saxophone that continued through all his years in Chicago. He also attended Interlochen’s National Music Camp immersed in the study of Classical Music & “Legitimate Classical” Saxophone etc. He turned down an offer of a four scholarship there to return to “study” in the jazz clubs etc. of Chicago.
Immediately upon graduating from High School, noted jazz producer, Esmond Edwards, signed Klemmer to Cadet/Chess Records for five plus albums, his first 2 recordings being “straight ahead jazz”, and then, abruptly & surprisingly if not confusing to many, of which would eventually become a trademark of his career, changed musical directions, recording the innovative hit album of the first, slightly preceding the release of Miles Davis “Bitches Brew”, of the “jazz/rock fusion” genre, “Blowin Gold”, co-produced by ex Rolling Stones Records producer, Marshall Chess, for the new Cadet Concept label on Chess Records. Here John introduced his use with electronics, primarily the “delay effect”, which would become his life long “trademark sound”, as well as, uses of the “wah wah” pedal & “ring modulator” etc. never before used on sax at that time as well as “vocal effects”. At Chess Records he had access & exposure to recording sessions & relationships with Artists & their sidemen such as, Muddy Waters, Donny Hathaway, Minnie Riperton, Ramsey Lewis, Maurice White & many others expanding his knowledge of R&B, Blues & Pop music. Klemmer led his own groups in Chicago & touring using the greatest of chicago sideman. He did his first PBS special for WTTTV Chicago. When not primarily performing with his own groups he was busy as a sideman exploring every genre of Music with Big Bands, Blues Bands, Dixieland Groups, Jazz Groups, the Avant Garde & Experimental, Classical & Church Music, R&B, Pop & Rock groups such as with musician friend James Guercio who was to move to L.A., preceding Klemmer, to Produce & Manage Rock groups Blood, Sweat & Tears & Chicago.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, continuing leading & touring with his own group & still recording for Cadet/Chess Records, he took a brief break recording, arranging & toured as key soloist & arranger with The Don Ellis innovative big band for 2 months & then toured Africa, as a key soloist, for half a summer, with Oliver Nelson for the State Dept. All while also working with such diverse L.A. based Artists as Tim Buckley & Steely Dan etc. & being opening act for diverse Artists such as Janis Joplin & Miles Davis. He studied Film Composing with Albert Harris & vocal lessons with Seth Riggs.
He still primarily focused on performing with his own groups & recording for the Chess/CadetConcept label continuing his experimentation’s & innovations in the “jazz rock genre” including being one of the first Artists to use various Production Techniques such as Ambient Sound Effects of “children playing” & “oceans & forests” etc. SFX, and also with new combinations of instrumentation & new over dubbing concepts. He performed as quest soloist at the Newport, Monterey Antibes & Montreux Jazz Festivals as well as Carnegie Hall & Tanglewood etc. while also being an occasional quest soloist on recordings with Artists of a variety of musical genres such as, Steely Dan, Nancy Wilson, John Lee Hooker, Roy Haynes, Dan Siegal, Tom Snow, Gloria Lynn, Lauren Wood, Ray Manzerek & Osamu etc also being featured quest soloist for Movies such as Lipstick etc…
more at johnklemmer.com