Recent ensembles, recordings and creative projects I have initiated and am involved with include the following.
Gnawa of Hope – In this ensemble I collaborate with Moroccan musician Fourat Koyo synthesizing traditional Gnawa music – a mixture of Arabic and West African influences – with contemporary western elements of jazz and popular music. The group has recorded a CD and will be recording a professional quality music video in the summer of 2019. Mr. Koyo travelled to the CU campus in 2017 to perform and lecture on Gnawan music. This collaboration was born from a trip I made to Morocco in 2017 in an effort to connect with a culture and musical tradition much different from my own, and in turn find a way to share this experience and culture with my own community.
Safari Trio – Based in New York, I founded this group in 2009 and is comprised of myself playing saxophone, flute, and clarinet, along with a percussionist John Hadfield and guitarist Brad Shepik. We explore rhythms and melodies from around the world, incorporating such diverse styles as African, Balkan, Brazilian, and Turkish music with our sensibilities as jazz musicians. The trio has released two CD’s – Surrender, and Devotion (CD Baby).
John Gunther and the Bad Hombres – Comprised of some of the finest musicians in Denver, this jazz quartet explores some of the contemporary innovations in jazz of the last 20 years. Odd meter time signatures, rock and funk influences, and electronic effects and looping are all integrated. This band performs regularly in local clubs and festivals.
New West Quartet – Based in Lisbon, Portugal, this ensemble exemplifies the rich history of collaboration between American and European musicians. The quartet has recorded a CD, East & West for the “Fresh Sounds” label which will be released in the summer of 2019. Performances in Europe are planned for 2020.
John Gunther with the Carpe Diem String Quartet – In 2017-18 I composed a suite of music based on the West African folk tale of Anansi the trickster spider. Additionally, I arranged songs by Thelonious Monk for myself and the string quartet. The CD Trickster Tales was released on CD baby and the music has been performed at several Colorado venues.
Ruminations on Rumi – In 2018 I set to music selected poems of the 13th century Muslim poet and Sufi mystic. The music was premiered at the Dairy Center in Boulder. I am currently seeking opportunities to perform and record the music again with Norwegian based singer Kirsti Huke.
Oregonia – Collaborating with internationally renowned pianist and composer Art Lande, this ensemble explores the music of “Oregon,” an influential jazz/new music ensemble of 70’s and 80’s. The group has performed with “Oregon” member Paul McAndless and is planning a West coast tour in 2020.
Throw Down or Shut Up – Comprised of fellow CU faculty Daphne Leong and Mike Tetrault, as well as Patrick Sutton, this is a new music chamber ensemble exploring works by Stravinsky, Muhly, Shende, Corea, and Reich. Additionally, I have composed original works for this group. The group has finished a CD and are in planning stages for a release in 2020.
Spooky Actions – This New York based group is a jazz and “new music” group that I co-founded in 1997. With 6 CD’s and one DVD released, the group has received critical acclaim and was twice invited to perform in Moscow, Russia at the annual Dom International “Alternativ” Music Festival. The group explores the melding of elements of classical and jazz music. This integration of improvisation with the highly developed structures of classical music extends the vocabulary of both genres. This was also the focus of my doctoral research completed in 2008.
Convergence – This group has been in existence for over 25 years, has a national reputation, has released 6 CD’s of original music, and has been a vital force in the Denver jazz community. Joining the band have been guests artists such as Christian McBride, Chris Potter, Roberta Gambarini, Randy Brecker and many others, representative of the top artists working in jazz. With “Convergence” I have composed over 60 compositions, which have been recorded or are performed regularly. Additionally, all of the members of “Convergence” are committed to education having mentored hundreds of up and coming musicians in the Denver area.