Sunday, June 19, 2016

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-John Klemmer

Artist:John Klemmer

Though he didn't know it at the time, today sax player John Klemmer is considered to be one of the pioneers of Smooth Jazz. The 1975 album Touch is probably his most successful album. He was born July 3, 1946 in Chicago. He started out playing guitar as a child and then switched to alto sax. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Interlochen's National Music Camp and he played in local clubs. Upon graduating from high school, Klemmer signed with Chess and he recorded several albums for Cadet Records. Some of these albums were early efforts of jazz rock fusion. Klemmer was urged by Eddie Harris to take up the electronic sax. In 1968, Klemmer moved to Los Angeles and he was a key soloist and arranger for Don Ellis' big band. Then he signed with ABC Records in 1970. After recording four albums for Impulse, Klemmer convinced ABC to let him record commercial jazz so he could cross over to pop and R&B. What Klemmer tended to do was he would alternate albums of commercial jazz with more adventurous jazz. He wrote and produced all his own music so he knew what he was doing. The 1975 album Touch was so successful that what would later be called Smooth Jazz was called "Touch" music. The musicians on Touch were all Smooth Jazz pioneers including Dave Grusin on piano, Larry Carlton on guitar, Chuck Domanico on bass, John Guerin on drums and Emil Richards and Joe Porcaro on percussion. The success of Klemmer's music set the stage for the success of Smooth Jazz. Touch is available as a budget CD. When MCA bought ABC in 1978, they only wanted Klemmer to record commercial jazz. So he left MCA and recorded the 1979 album Nexus for Arista's Novus label. Then he signed with Elektra. Eventually he returned to MCA and Grusin's GRP label. Now Klemmer seems to be semi-retired. He recorded his most recent album on his own label in 1998. And though he occasionally performs in Los Angeles, he doesn't seem to tour anymore. But he was certainly a big deal in the 70s. Here's John Klemmer performing Touch probably in the late 70s.

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