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Keyboardist Jon Wirtz Releases A Beyond-Category Jazz Album, "Tourist"

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Arriving on the Denver scene just a few years ago, keyboardist/composer Jon Wirtz
Jon Wirtz
Jon Wirtz
b.1980
piano
has since performed for millions of people both locally and nationally. Over the past 10 years he has mainly been a sideman, having worked with Grammy-winning producers Malcolm Burn and John Macy, and shared the stage with artists including Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Justin Timberlake, Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Melissa Etheridge, pianist Joe Bonner, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Matt Morris and Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan). In addition to performing with Matt Morris on The Late Show with David Letterman, Wirtz has also appeared on CBS Early Morning Show, Ellen, and Lopez Tonight. For the past five years he has studied under Art Lande, an internationally respected jazz educator and Grammy-nominated pianist/composer. In 2011 and 2012, his then group Jon Wirtz & The Debut was nominated as a finalist in the national Telluride Jazz Competition.

\ Two and half years after the release of his first record Sea Level, Wirtz’s follow-up set, Tourist, will be released nationally and internationally on April 16, 2013 via iTunes, Amazon, and many other digital outlet stores.

Wirtz's own style embodies a knowledge and respect for the masters who came before him, while simultaneously displaying his forward-thinking mentality. This ethos is evident on tracks like “Politico," which combine jazz harmony with a progressive “drum 'n' bass" style groove, before evolving into an orchestral second half of the song. On “Camouflage For A Sunny Day “ and “Watching The World Wake Up," Wirtz gives a nod to his generation's hip-hop/R&B swagger while still maintaining a conversation with the rhythm section. Jazz meets country on the Allman Brothers flavored track “Country," which was selected among a national pool of songwriters by Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell to be included on a compilation CD for his Sing For The Trees foundation. As a whole, the record showcases Wirtz's strength a player and as a composer. The meditative “In The Body “ emphasizes his spacious approach with solo piano, while the gospel-influenced “Gratitude" highlights Wirtz's ability to arrange for a band and vocalists. The tasteful mix of approaches throughout Tourist result in an impressive sophomore effort.

“The initial inspiration for Tourist came 15 months before entering the studio, while sleeping,” says Wirtz. “I started having some vivid dreams, during which I heard or saw distinct phrases, some of which ultimately became song titles. So the album is framed with the opening track “Slumber," and the final track ‘Awakening.’ I definitely wanted the album to have a flow and story-telling feel to it, as opposed to just being a collection of songs. From the time I started brainstorming about the record until its completion, I had various paradigm shifts in my life, which is partially why there are a variety of styles contained in the record; I wrote most of it over a 16-month period.

“As far as the players, I was thrilled to work with all of my ‘first-call’ musicians around the Denver scene. I've worked with these players throughout the years in various projects, genres and environments. Guitarist Dan Schwindt also plays in the Motet and Kyle Hollingsworth Band, while Stephen Malloy Brackett performs with Flobots. Pedal steel guitarist John Macy has also won a Grammy for his production work with other artists. Kyle Jones, who mixed and mastered this record, went platinum for his work in producing the Flobots record ‘Fight With Tools’ (the single, ‘Handlebars,’ went platinum for digital download sales).“


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