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|Born||Kentucky, United States|
|Genres||Jazz, Post-bop, Pop, Rock|
|Occupation(s)||Pianist, composer, arranger, producer|
|Associated acts||Brian Blade, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joni Mitchell|
Jon Cowherd is an American pianist, composer, arranger, and producer born to a trombone player (father) and classically trained violinist (mother), both of whom were also educators. Jon began piano lessons at the age of five and trumpet and violin lessons at ten years of age.
Cowherd is most well known for his partnership with jazz drummer Brian Blade, with whom he co-founded the Brian Blade Fellowship. When not recording and touring with the Fellowship, Cowherd works extensively with a broad array of players and singers from the jazz, pop and rock worlds.
Cowherd was born and raised in Kentucky. Being a son of musicians (and music educators), Cowherd began music at an early age singing, playing the piano, French horn and violin. In 1985 Cowherd moved to New Orleans to attend Loyola University, where he studied jazz piano and improvisation under Crescent City legends Ellis Marsalis, John Mahoney, Steve Masakowski, and Michael Pellera.
It was in New Orleans that Cowherd began his partnership with drummer Brian Blade, in which they later formed the Brian Blade Fellowship together in 1997. The Fellowship consists of bassist Chris Thomas, saxophonists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler, guitarist Jeff Parker, pedal steel guitarist Dave Easley and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. The Fellowship Band released their debut album in 1998, their second album, Perceptual in 2000 and their third album, Season of Changes, in 2008. Cowherd is referred to as "the band's secondary leader", whose playing "shows an artful touch to the keys in ways Thelonious Monk used to". Cowherd also worked with Brian Blade in his debut singer-songwriter album Mama Rosa, which was released in 2009 on Verve Records.
In 1993, Cowherd moved to New York City, where he earned his master's degree in Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music. Cowherd is currently a member of Cassandra Wilson's band, and has previously worked with Rosanne Cash, Lizz Wright, Iggy Pop, Marc Cohn, Mark Olson, Victoria Williams, Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell, John Leventhal, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dave Easley, Jeff Parker, Marcus Strickland and Jack Wilkins.
As a producer, Cowherd has overseen albums by Lizz Wright, Alyssa Graham and The Local NYC. He also recently served as keyboardist for and co-musical director for the all-star Joni Jazz concert at the Hollywood Bowl, in honor of Joni Mitchell, where he performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling, Aimee Mann, Glen Hansard and Cassandra Wilson.
Cowherd's debut album as a leader, Mercy, was released in 2013 on ArtistShare. Mercy features Brian Blade, John Patitucci, and Bill Frisell. Reviewing the album for allaboutjazz, John Kelman said:
And the chemistry shared amongst these four players is no coincidence; instead, it's the sum total of working together in various combinations, just never in this particular one, with Blade representing a connective thread; in addition to his work with Cowherd in the Fellowship Band and his relationship with Patitucci in Shorter's quartet, Blade also toured with Frisell and the perennially undervalued Sam Yahel in 2004, in a trio that never released a commercial recording but is documented in the fourth installment of the guitarist's ongoing Live Download Series.
With music this well-conceived and a band so telepathically connected, it may have taken Cowherd a long time to release an album under his own name, but with Mercy as the result, it's been well worth the wait; hopefully there won't be such a long one for the follow-up.
- Mercy (2013, ArtistShare)
As a co-leader
- Brian Blade Fellowship (1998, Blue Note Records)
- Perceptual (2000, Blue Note Records)
- Season of Changes (2008, Verve Records)
- Meg Okura: Peace In My Heart (1995)
- Swing: The Original Broadway Cast Recording (1999)
- Mark Olson and the Creek Dippers: Zola and the Tulip Tree (2000)
- Steve Sacks: Look to the Sky (2001)
- Ari Ambrose: Waiting (2003, SteepleChase Records)
- Liz Wright: Salt (2003, Verve Records)
- The Local: Just Show Up (2004, Budron Records)
- Marshall Gilkes: Edenderry (2005, Alternate Side Records)
- Kingsborough Hymns: (2005)
- Jack Wilkins: Until It's Time (2005, Maxjazz)
- Metta Quintet: Subway Songs (2006, Sunnyside Records)
- Mariel Larsen: Mariel Larsen (2007, Coco Jazz)
- Chris Tarry: Sorry to be Strange (2007)
- Nicolas Thys: Virgo (2008, Pirouette Records)
- Myron Walden: In This World (2008, Demi Sound Records)
- Marshall Gilkes: Lost Words (2008, Alternate Side Records)
- Pamela Luss: Your Eyes (2008, Savant)
- Alyssa Graham: Echo (2008, Sunnyside Records/Walrus)
- Brian Blade: Mama Rosa (2009, Verve Records)
- Matt Lemler: New Orleans Revival Project (2009)
- Iggy Pop: Préliminaires (2009, EMI)
- Marcus Strickland: Open Reel Deck (Strick Muzik, 2009)
- Rosanne Cash: We Three Kings (2010, Blue Note Records)
- Marc Cohn: Listening Booth 1970 (2010, Saguaro Road Records)
- Chrissi Poland: Songs From the Concrete (2010, Danben Records)
- Kevin Kinney: Good Country Mile (2011)
- Davy Mooney: Perrier Street (2011, Sunnyside Records)
- Maria Logis: Room for Something New (2012)
- Dog & Pony Industries Dog & Pony Industries: Jon Cowherd Bio, Dog & Pony Industries, Referenced November 2013.
- Jon Cowherd, Bio: Jon Cowherd, Jon Cowherd, Referenced November 2013.
- Chinen, Nate Critics' Choice-New CDs Review, NYTimes, May 12, 2008.
- Gilkes, Marshall Lost Words By Marshall Gilkes, JazzReview, March 4, 2008.
- Kelman, John Brian Blade: Mama Rosa AllAboutJazz.com, April 21, 2009.
- Cowherd, Jon Jon Cowherd LinkedIn Profile LinkedIn.com, Referenced November 2013.
- Verve Music Group Jon Cowherd Bio, VerveMusicGroup.com, Referenced November 2013.
- Jon Cowherd: Mercy Project | WBGO WBGO.org, Retrieved December 2013.
- "Jon Cowherd: Mercy". Allaboutjazz.com. July 11, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2016.