Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – Ask any Jon Metzger fan and they’ll tell you his music appeals to the heart. The majority of his compositions are relaxing. Metzger has played jazz on vibes and marimba in concerts and festivals across America and in over 20 countries.
Early on, Metzger fell in love with teaching — he found it inspiring to teach music to college students. His book, The Art and Language of Jazz Vibes, is great for learning, listening and understanding the nature of playing jazz vibraphone.
“What led me to teaching was that I saw how clearly here at home in the United States we need a larger more improved, better educated audience,” he explained.
I recently interviewed Metzger. As you listen to our conversation, you will hear the songs “Ode to Life” and “Brown Skin Girl”, two titles from The Jon Metzger Quartet’s Teach Me Tonight album.
(The Quartet features band leader Jon Metzger on vibes and marimba, Keith Waters on piano, James King on bass and Tony Martucci on drums and percussion.)
Bridging cultures musically:
Metzger served as a Cultural Envoy for the United States Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. The one-month mission in May 2009 allowed him to work with the music faculty of the Conservatory at Hacettepe State University on the formation of their new Jazz Studies Program. While in Turkey, he gave improvisation and jazz pedagogy workshops, jazz performance master classes, and numerous concerts at the Conservatories in Ankara and in Izmir.
In the 1990’s, the former United States Information Agency’s Arts America Program selected Metzger as a Jazz Ambassador. He visited more than 20 countries in Central America, Europe, the Middle East, the Near East, and Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa. His music was very well received in many countries, including Syria, Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, the tours didn’t include Egypt, home of Middle Eastern jazz and the region’s top vibraphonist Nesma Abdel Aziz.
Among his other noteworthy accomplishments, Jon Metzger teamed up with three other musicians to play the music of jazz and clarinet great Benny Goodman. The group recorded a CD titled Times Fly, the Music of Benny Goodman. It has 13 compositions arranged by Metzger on vibes, Gregg Gelb on clarinet, Ed Paolantonio on piano and John Hanks on drums. From Times Fly here’s After You’ve Gone:
Jon Metzger is now the Artist in Residence and an Associate Professor of Music at Elon University in North Carolina.
For more on jazz music, listen to VOA’s Jazz America