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John Klemmer

An active composer and an innovator on the electrified saxophone (using echo effects quite effectively), John Klemmer was also a very strong Coltrane-inspired acoustic tenor saxophonist. His solo saxophone recordings preceded smooth jazz and new age and his variety of projects earned him a great deal of crossover appeal that includes his music sampled by hip-hop artists of the '90s. Over the course of his career, Klemmer collaborated with a number of jazz and pop artists and performed the albums by Steely Dan, John Lee Hooker, Lauren Wood, Roy Haynes, and Nancy Wilson, among others.

John Klemmer began playing music at a young age, starting with the guitar and switching to tenor sax by high school. In addition to private music lessons that continued up through college, he also attended Interlochen's music camp. In school, Klemmer studied a variety of arts including graphics and visual arts, writing, and puppeteering at schools that include Chicago's Institute of Art. Early on in his music career, Klemmer led his own groups at gigs around the East Coast and Midwest, and was also busy touring as a sideman with big bands. Among the people he worked with during this time are jazz musicians such as Chicago pianist Jodie Christian, tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris, rock guitarist Harvey Mandel (with whom Klemmer purportedly co-led a band for a time in the '60s), and producer James Guercio (who worked extensively with the band Chicago). Klemmer made his debut recording as a leader in 1967 and moved to Los Angeles the following year. There he became a key soloist with Don Ellis's innovative big band for the next two years, while also working with artists such as Tim Buckley and Oliver Nelson, with whom Klemmer went on a State Dept. tour of West Africa.

From this time, up through the early '70s, John Klemmer led fusion groups and recorded a number of albums, primarily for Cadet Records. After studying film composition with Albert Harris, Klemmer began recording for other labels: first Impulse, then ABC, MCA, and Elektra. He also worked as a producer for pop, jazz ,and R&B artists. Klemmer's own music gained cross-over appeal, as his work with manager's Bill Siddons (who worked with the Doors) and Gary Borman (who went on to work with Faith Hill) brought his music to a growing number of pop listeners. With his electrified horn (using an echoplex), Klemmer recorded popular albums for MCA and Elektra that were in the easy listening, pop vein from the mid-'70s through the late '80s. He enjoyed a hit record with Touch and went on to record solo sax albums such as Cry, which are considered by some to be direct predecessors of smooth jazz music.

Klemmer alternated the more pop-oriented projects with fiery efforts; his finest jazz album was the two-LP set Nexus (mostly reissued on CD), a set of duets and trios with drums and occasional bass. In 1989, Music came out on MCA and Klemmer went on sabbatical, choosing to stop touring and recording in order to focus more on composing. Although it was rumored that this sabbatical was due to health problems, this is not true; it was simply Klemmer's decision to take a break from the limelight.

John Klemmer has co-written pop songs (for other artists) with, namely, David Batteau (the two wrote the successful song "Walk in Love," made popular by Manhattan Transfer) and Danny O'Keefe; the music on Klemmer's own jazz albums is composed solo. The late '90s found Klemmer returning to the stage, often on the West Coast scene. He also returned to the studio, guesting on albums by such new age artists as 3rd Force, David Arkenstone, and Craig Chaquico. During this time, Klemmer also founded his own record label, Touch Records, on which he released the albums Simpatico and Making Love, Vol. 1 (1998). By 2000, most of John Klemmer's earlier recordings were still awaiting CD issue. ~ Joslyn Layne & Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Comments

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I hate the comparison of Klemmer to Kenny G, but I'm not sure why just that I like the former and find the latter insipid. Too bad about the slow demise of smooth jazz and it's transition to elevator music. Klemmer is still perfect for the right mood.
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I saw John Klemmer at the ROXY on Sunset, in the late 70's/ That was it, I became a Fan for Life. I can listen to his music every day. TOUCH, his song has such an effect on me. I have a Klemmer channel on Pandora and out of over 100 channels, its my favorite. I look forward to the day when I can hear him again. In L.A. or Vegas, or ????
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jonathan5556
Flagstaff 1979...I feel in love with a very beautiful woman, on a Saturday afternoon, while we listened to Touch...
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Where is john klemmer playing in California I am in Los Angeles I love to see him ver much I saw him at the light house in hermosa beach in the 1967 love him please let me know we're can see him perform before I live the earth I have cancer so I would love to here him I play his music all the time my e mail is cresepress @ aol com
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Everyone used to come to my room at NCSA to hear this album. Not so good for me but very memorable.
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sgt611
MPH
'79-'82 Touch was the music of choice for me and the woman who lit my fire at that time of my life. Nothing more soothing and inspiring during those special and intense moments.
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So many memories.
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edhp9609
He is amazing. I've enjoyed his music since I was a kid. And listening to it here reminds me why.
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Some if this song has a little Ronnie Laws flavor to it!!! Love it!!
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1bullshiet
WHERE IS HUSH, AND MR.BRIEFCASE
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Relaxing.... . . . . . : . . . . . !
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John Klemmer without TOUCH is like life without sex!
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Nice, very nice composition of instruments. Play on & don't stop.
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Klemmer very smooth and easy to listen too. I listen to his music for over 30 years but never seen him Live.
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harden.s
Thanks,would like to hear more of John Klemmer. I,ll been a fan since the 1960
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I agree with everyone's comment's
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marjieforest
I must have listened to Free Fall Lover 8 million times in the early 70's
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I did get to see him at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, CA in the 70's. Ahhhh, the good old days.
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My favorite song, ever, since I was 15. Wayyyy older than that, but this song, still soothes whatever is ailing me. Love you John Klemmer.
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I used to put my daughter to sleep listening to John Klemmer. She is 23 now and still goes to sleep listening to him.
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COOL FOR A PINK PANTHER CARTON. (BEFORE A MOVIE).
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My introduction to J K was from a cassette I found with"Waterfa l l " on it 35 years ago. Sanborn and Boney come close, but no one moves me like he does
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John Klemmer inspired me to play the sax. Although I am nowhere near as good as him, I have influenced two of my children to play as well. Touch is my favorite alongside Grover Washington Jr's Mr. Magic!
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John Klemmer was playing every night as I studied at Michigan State University in the mid/late 1970's. Fantastic music. I miss his music.
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I have this song!! I go online and the rest is history..cla s s i c , classic jazz
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murrenunit
i havent heard the song TOUCH by john klemmer for such a long time, i really would like to hear that particular piece once again.
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the original smooth jazz man! Touch is a classic
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just got familiar with this guy about ten years ago. hidden gem. great music. especially his music from the 70's.
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Anyone catch him in the 80's every Wednesday nite at Pasquale's in Malibu on the beach?? B**chin' memories!
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I've been listening to John Klemmer's music since the early 70s......his music gets inside my soul!
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buschetal
I remmeber KLOL and how it would deviate from its hard rock programming late at night.
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buschetal
In the 70s John definitely led the transition of jazxz from those deeply into jazz to those looking for something different than the vacuum between rock and jazz.
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John Klemmer was one the first Smooth Jazz Artist. Actually much of Wes Montgumery's work could also be considered.
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d_kay7
I saw him at Amazing grace in
Evenston il. anybody else?
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Listen to John Klemmer brings back so many gooood memories.
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This guy's alter ego is California Jazz Dance off of the Constant Throb LP Take a listen and you won't believe it's the same saxophonist! He's truly an amazing player!
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Heavenly horn playin' !! For real!!
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lbartula
I use to hear his music as a teen late at night in the mid seventies on KLOL in Houston which was a hard rock station.I didn't know his name until I went into an record store and described the music.The clerk knew and hooked me up....been listening ever since!
Report as inappropriate
captainbe
fresh feathers the best
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Some of best romantic songs ever!!
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His music is so smooth.....
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John Klemmer definitely has the "Touch" when it comes to melodious (and mellow) saxophone playing!
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rags4legs
Been a fan from the beginning. Carry on!
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stephen04832
Desert island, stranded, only allowed one song - forever 'Pieces of Dreams'. 'Nough Said.
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Where is Touch?
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Klemmer rocks!! As applied to smooth jazz, he was country before country was cool!!
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John Klemmer's music will live forever in my book. I wish I could have the oppurtunity to see him live at Pasqualis or anywhere today.Al
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klemmer has been around for years, he started this sound years ago
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you can see hints of coltrane in his two album set "nexus". klemmer is a bad boy no matter what he's playing, cool or avant guare
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He knows how to put it on - and to lay it down.
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