Jon Herington is the veteran touring and recording guitarist for Steely Dan and The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue (featuring Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs, and Michael McDonald), and the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the New York City based JON HERINGTON BAND. Jon's newest solo release, "Time On My Hands," (his follow-up to earlier albums "shine (shine shine)" and "Like So") reflects the bluesy, driving rock that had its gestation in the club scene, and is now available at jonherington.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com and on iTunes. The undeniable chemistry of the band, built on a lifetime of collaboration with Dennis Espantman on bass and Frank Pagano on drums, is clearly evident in this collection of ten original songs.
Jon's love for music surfaced early, and he studied piano, saxophone, and harmony in his grade school years. Just before his high school years, however, he developed a passion for pop music and the electric guitar, and soon was writing songs and performing with his own band near his New Jersey Shore home doing opening slots for local hero Bruce Springsteen, beginning a performing career that has continued ever since. College followed, with extensive musical studies in both classical and jazz composition and theory at Rutgers University, and private jazz guitar study, with the help of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, with the late, great jazz guitarist, Harry Leahey. Next came several years of study with the late Dennis Sandole, the acclaimed music teacher from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who once taught the late greats James Moody and John Coltrane.
Jon's gigging life took a detour for about three years when he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, home to jazz guitar great Wes Montgomery. There Jon played jazz, with the many accomplished local players and former band-mates of Wes, including Wes's brother Buddy Montgomery, "Killer" Ray Appleton, "Pookie" Johnson, and Terry Hayden, as well as the many talented young players who were students or residents in Indiana, including Jim Beard, Bob Hurst, Kenny Aronov, Chris Botti, and Shawn Pelton.
Jon also began doing extensive session work at the time in several of the local studios, and played on dozens of jingles and albums made there.
After a return to the New York area, Jon began the challenging process of establishing a working life in New York. His work included performing with many different bands and for many Broadway shows; session recording, teaching, and an occasional writing or arranging job.
Since late 1999, Jon has been the guitarist of choice with Steely Dan for both recording and touring. Jon has also toured with Donald Fagen; Boz Scaggs; Bette Midler; the Jim Beard group; The Blue Nile; Phoebe Snow; Madeleine Peyroux; Bobby Caldwell; Catherine Russell; Rob Morsberger; saxophonist Bill Evans; the contemporary jazz superband Chroma; Lucy Kaplansky (of Cry, Cry, Cry); jazz/blues organ great Jack McDuff; and most recently with the Dukes of September, a supergroup with Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs, and Michael McDonald.
ESC Records has recently released Jon's "Pulse and Cadence," a remastered and retitled instrumental recording from 1992 which features eight of his own compositions as well as the brilliant playing of keyboardist Jim Beard, bassist Victor Bailey, drummer Peter Erskine, and percussionist Arto Tuncboyacian.
Some of Jon's recording highlights (aside from "Time On My Hands," "shine (shine shine)," "Like So," and "Pulse and Cadence") are the newest Walter Becker release, "Circus Money;" the Donald Fagen releases, "Morph The Cat;" and "Sunken Condos;" the Steely Dan albums "Two Against Nature" (Grammy Award Winner) and "Everything Must Go;" Jim Beard's five recordings (the first four co-produced by Jon); and many recordings by singer/songwriter Rob Morsberger.
Frank Pagano - drums; vocals
Dennis Espantman - bass;Vocals
Jon Herington - Guitar; Vocals
Time On My Hands (2012)
shine (shine shine) (2010)
Pulse and Cadence (2008)
Like So (2000)
The Complete Rhyming Dictionary (1992)
As sideman: (partial list)
Sunken Condos (2012) Donald Fagen
Ghosts Before Breakfast (2011) Rob Morsberger
Swingin' In The Swamp (2010) - Ron van Stratum
The Chronicle of A Literal Man (2010) - Rob Morsberger
Brand New Way to Go (2010) - Takanori Niida (w/co-write by Jon)
Revolutions (2009) - Jim Beard
Relativity Blues (2009) - Rob Morsberger
The End of Physics (2009) - Rob Morsberger
Circus Money (2008) - Walter Becker
A Periodic Rush of Waves (2008) Rob Morsberger
Life In the Big City (2008) - Takanori Niida
Morph The Cat (2006) - Donald Fagen
Red Thread (2004) - Lucy Kaplansky
Everything Must Go (2003) - Steely Dan
Outbreak (2002) - Dennis Chambers (w/song by Jon)
Every Single Day (2001) - Lucy Kaplansky
Two Against Nature (2000) - Steely Dan
Red Bird In Snow (2000) - Lynne Robyn (produced by Jon)
The Advocate (1999) - Jim Beard (co-produced by Jon)
Ten Year Night (1999) - Lucy Kaplansky
Time (1999) - Kati Mac
Always (1999) - Nelson Rangell
Cry, Cry, Cry (1998) - Cry Cry Cry
Penetration (1998) - Michael "Patches" Stewart
Blue Note Salutes Motown (1998) - Various Artists
The Bone (1998) - Sugaro
Truly (1997) - Jim Beard (co-produced by Jon)
Starfish and the Moon (1997) - Bill Evans (w/song by Jon)
Escape (1996) - Bill Evans
Influences (1996) - Michel Cloutier
So Many Stars (1995) - Kathleen Battle
Extended Outlook (1995) - Tony Kadleck
New York Rendezvous (1995) - Didier Lockwood (song by Jon)
Silky (1995) - Wendy Sayvetz (song by Jon)
Lost at the Carnival (1994) - Jim Beard (co-produced by Jon)
Riddles (1994) - Bob Berg
Movin' On (1994) - Ralph Bowen
Virtual Reality (1992) - Bob Berg
Looking For Love (1992) - Margie Rylatt (produced by Jon)
Music on the Edge (1991) - Chroma
A Long Story (1991) - Eliane Elias
Now You See It...Now You Don't (1990) - Michael Brecker
Song of the Sun (1990) - Jim Beard (co-produced by Jon)
Toe to Toe (1990) - Randy Brecker
Bottoms Up (1989) - Victor Bailey
Whirlwind (1989) - Danny Gottlieb
Interview with Jon Herington of Steely Dan
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For the last decade or so, Jon Herington has been playing alongside Donald Fagan and Walter Becker...
For the last decade or so, Jon Herington has been playing alongside Donald Fagan and Walter Becker at Steely Dan tour stops. Night after night, he's performing some of the most complicated arrangements ever crafted for pop music, playing parts originally forged into our memories by guitar legends such as Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Larry Carlton. Yet, as anyone who has caught Steely Dan recently can attest, Herington is living up to this monumental task. The NYC-based musician, who also plays alongside Madeleine Peyroux and has his own solo career, made time to talk to the Fretboard Journal before his recent Seattle tour date. Look for a longer piece with Herrington in a forthcoming Journal.
Fretboard Journal: How did you get the Steely Dan gig?
Jon Herington: I was asked to do some overdubs on Two Against Nature, which is the first Steely Dan record in this more recent phase of recording. I think it had been about 18 years since they have done Gaucho. It was toward the end of the overdub stage that I got a call.
I did maybe four or five sessions and played on, I think, four tunes for that record. Somewhere in the course of the sessions they asked me if I was interested in going on tour. I said of course. So that was that.
FJ: Didn't you tell me you had an excruciating story about your first Steely Dan song?
JH: Oh yeah. Walter [Becker] called me and I came in and played on "Janie Runaway." We worked for about four or five hours and it seemed to go well. I was reasonably comfortable and they seemed happy with what I was doing; we just played the one tune over and over with a lot of takes, but it seemed to go well. At the end of the session they said goodbye and Walter asked, “Are you in town? Are you going to be around for a while? I’d like to have you come back in next week and play some more.” And I said, “Yeah, I’m around and I’d love to.”
A week goes by with no phone call. Two weeks go by, no phone call. Three weeks go by… So, I gave up on him, tried to recover and move on. Then, about five weeks after that, he did call. So maybe his sense of time is different from mine!
On the phone, he said, “Remember that tune you played on, a couple weeks ago?” I said, “Yeah, I remember.” He said, “Well, we’re not using anything you did from it.”
Then he said, “But we’d like you to come in and play on some other stuff.”
He was messing with me a bit, but he was right, they didn’t use anything that I played on that first tune. But I came in and I did survive. I did four other tunes, or so. And that was my introduction to Walter Becker.
FJ: Steely Dan must have one of the more fanatical fan bases around. And every night, you're asked to play on these incredibly complex tunes that the fans have committed to memory, both note and tone-wise. How do you approach a gig like that?
JH: I certainly don’t try all the time to get the sounds that are on the records. For one, it would be really difficult to do. But I often will go for something sort of similar, just because it does seem like what the tune calls for, often. For instance, on "Peg," it would probably sound a little odd not to use a sort of cranked up sound that has some sustain and distortion.
FJ: I was actually going to ask you about the "Peg" solo that you’re performing. Is it an alternative to the slide part on the record?
JH: The beginning of it? No, it's not slide, he just bends two strings at once. It’s the two-finger bend. Not easy to do.
But you know, we’re also doing a tune called "Your Gold Teeth." It’s kind of a jazzy tune and there’s some restraint about it. On the record, the sound is clearly a rhythm pickup, but I don’t know what kind of guitar it was or anything -- it’s certainly a clean tone on the rhythm pickup. It sort of sounds like the right thing for that. It’s a bit jazzy, but not too much. I tend to sort of go with general sort of things like that.
Most of the solo sounds might be the stuff that Larry Carlton did. Almost inevitably, it’s a Gibson guitar and it’s often his 335. Jeff Baxter played a lot of different guitars, I think. But because Walter is playing Strats by [Roger] Sadowsky all night long, I probably use the Gibson more than the Tele. It’s a natural complement to his tones.
But there are some tunes where the Fender seems like the right thing because it was closer to what was on the record. I’m not that careful to figure out what guitar it was originally and duplicate the tones, but I certainly want it to sound like it fits with the song.
The other thing is that I have to be comfortable with the sound. If I’m not, it just doesn’t feel right and I can’t play well. So, sometimes I make a choice to go with the sound that frees me up to play in a looser way than to try to imitate what the sound is on record.
The challenge with this gig is to find a way to keep the level of quality of the playing -- the soloing -- up high, because the records are so great that way. Also, to make sure there’s room for me to do something that’s fresh and spontaneous and not feel locked in to repeating myself all the time. People know the guitar solos on the records better than I do sometimes.
That’s the great thing about the gig, because you can play with the audience’s expectations. You can’t do that on a gig if they don’t know the music, but if they’ve heard the records, then they’ll be coming with a sort of understanding. You can give them what they’re expecting or not ... you can tease them; you can play with them. You wouldn’t have that power in a gig if it weren’t well-known music or the audience didn’t know the stuff.
FJ: How much time were you given to study these tunes before going out on tour?
JH: The first time I went on the road, I think it was in 2000, it seemed like a really tall order to learn all these tunes. There were so many guitar solos! I remember talking to Donald [Fagen] about "Bodhisattva," which I found very difficult to play -- just difficult changes to play through and a style was a little strangely hybrid to me. I couldn’t find a natural, comfortable way to tackle it right away from the beginning.
So I said to Donald, “Don’t you thing that would make a great saxophone solo?” He just chuckled and walked away. But I was definitely overwhelmed; there was so much to learn. I like to be over-prepared and I definitely was not.
I remember one lesson I’ve learned: I think our first tour was in Japan and there were a lot of tunes on the list that we hadn’t done very many times. I had charts for those. But charts on these tunes ... some of them were like five or six pages long!
So I got them all taped together and I didn’t want to use a music stand. I thought that would look a little silly. So, I have these charts on the floor by the pedal board.
On a lot of these tunes, I knew basically everything except for one little section. But this is a six-page chart, so I’m just kind of groovin’ along on the parts that I know and all of a sudden this section comes up and I realize I have no idea what’s coming next. So I’m down there searching, trying to find my page, because I wasn’t really paying attention for the parts I knew and I could never find the spot!
I learned my lesson at the one gig I played that way. I went home and made a promise to myself to not do that again. I just stayed up all night and studied and studied until I had everything memorized.
Since then, except for the occasional surprise tune, which they might call on the spur of the moment -- which nobody knows -- basically no more charts for me.
FJ: You have both an enviable and scary job!
JH: That’s true. But they’re so cool to work for and they’re so easy to work for. It’s a great band; there are no weak links in this chain.
Jon Herington artist interview
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Solo records by session guitarists too often hang gobs of great guitar on flimsy compositional f...
Solo records by session guitarists too often hang gobs of great guitar on flimsy compositional frames, or they attempt to emphasize the songs by stinting on the expected guitar fireworks. Jon Herington’s work with Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, and Michael McDonald qualifies him as a sessioneer extraordinaire, yet he deftly avoids both traps on his fourth record, Time on My Hands [Wise Axe], by serving up clever, tightly constructed tunes shot through with searing solos and studded with 6-string ear candy. Here, he explains how he did it.
How did you get into session work?
After college, I expected to make a living playing jazz gigs and teaching, but that turned out to be a grim prospect. There was so little jazz work around New York, and the gigs that were happening didn’t pay much. I moved to Indiana, met a bunch of good musicians, and ended up doing more jazz gigs there than back east. There was also room for a session player in Indiana. In New York I was green and no one would have given me a chance, but in Indiana the pool of good musicians was shallower. They needed someone who could follow a conductor, play in time, play a rock solo but understand chord changes, and play a little classical guitar. I was able to find a niche that provided great training with no pressure. I moved back to New York with a lot more confidence, but by then the scene had slowed even further and it took me about 15 years to break in.
You have lasted longer with Steely Dan than any other guitarist. To what do you attribute that?
Musicality is one thing, because they are fussy about that. But it is also a personality thing. Those guys want to be comfortable with the people that surround them for months on the road. They prefer people who don’t talk too much [laughs], and who are an easy hang. Those things matter, though I would like to believe it is mostly the musicianship.
How closely do you hew to the original solos when playing their material?
I play exactly what is on the record on a few tunes. There is an intro to “Hey Nineteen” that feels like a melody, though it was probably improvised on the original session. It would feel wrong not to play it. “Third World Man” is such a gorgeously composed solo that I want to play it as is. In general, however, the fun of the gig—and the challenge—is to find a way to honor what is great about the parts, while also finding ways to keep them alive and open-ended. There is no need to make the band a cover band. Donald and Walter have given me free rein to play the way I want. Sometimes all I take from the original is a sound, and sometimes it is the general style. I might also change my approach to particular solos as the tour goes on.
After a couple of power-pop solo records, Time on My Hands mixes pop, blues, jazz, and funk, often within a single tune. How do you make it work?
I have an affinity for Cream and Hendrix, but I spent so much time studying jazz it would feel wrong to slight that side of my playing. I like playing on changes, and not just in one key, so I make room for that in my songs. The difference with this record was a decision to put the guitar in the spotlight. I made sure there was room for longer guitar solos, rather than just eight-bar breaks, which made the songwriting process more complicated. I decided each song had to have this kind of groove, or those kinds of chord changes. I was worried that might compromise the song quality, but we worked hard to ensure that they all held up as songs.
What is the fuzz effect on the main lick at the start of “Shine, Shine, Shine”?
That is the Keeley Fuzz Head. I wanted its “baritone sax” sound during the body of the song. But I wanted the intro to sound cheap and cheesy, so I plugged the fuzz into the input of an old Sony boombox and miked it with a Shure SM57. The tune starts as lo-fi as possible, then I have the full tone kick in by adding other guitars.
The solos on that tune and the one on “Egirl” are relatively clean, but still have a little grit and give. What did you use for that tone?
That is a Gibson 1954 Les Paul Goldtop reissue with P-90s, set on the neck pickup, through either a Bludotone Bludo-Drive with Jensen speakers or a Guytron GT-100 or GT100-FV amp with Celestions. That guitar gets close to a Strat tone without having to play one, as I am more comfortable playing Gibsons. That particular tone is the amp overdriving just a little.
What did you use for the tanpura [a.k.a. tambura] drone and sitar effects on “Sweet Ginny Rose?”
That’s an iPhone app called iTanpura, which is a stereo sample of someone playing a tanpura. There are also some droning harmonicas looped on there—their reeds make them sound similar to a harmonium. I doubled what was probably a cranked-up Gibson Custom Shop SG playing the opening line, with a Jerry Jones version of the Coral Sitar guitar.
Was the more aggressive tone on “Caroline Yes” the SG as well?
I think so, but if I can’t tell by listening it makes you wonder how much that matters.
Well, you use a variety of guitars live, including a Hamer Newport, a Gibson SG, a Fender Telecaster, and a Gibson ES-336. Do you use them for different tones, or do you find that you can get “your” sound out of all of them?
I am on the fence about this. When I am recording, I will look for a certain guitar to sit in the track properly, though often I take whatever guitar I am playing and make it sound like what I am hearing in my head, especially when I solo. Then it matters less which guitar it is. If it’s a bright guitar I will just turn down the treble on the amp, and if it is dark I will turn the treble up—then the amp seems like the more important factor. When I play live, I like a certain sound. If it’s wrong, it’s hard for me to play well.
On the Dukes of September [Donald Fagan, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs] tour I have about five guitars. At the beginning of the tour, I picked the one that sounded the most appropriate for each tune we were covering. That became a nuisance, so I tried to do it with fewer changes. I realized it made a bigger difference than I had thought and went back to using all five. The biggest problem comes when it is the right guitar for the rhythm sound but not for the solo—you just have to compromise.
How did you get that almost infinite sustaining sliding part on “I’ll Fix Your Wagon”?
Those are slide guitars with an EBow. Even with a clean sound, the EBow makes them sound distorted.
The guitar on that song’s solo sounds more Fender-ish than on some of the other solos.
It is the Gibson SG, but you might be hearing the different attack of playing with fingers instead of a pick. It gives a different pop to the note, and there are overtones that you get with fingers that don’t appear with a pick. I am less proficient technically with my fingers, which forces me to make different, interesting choices.
A double-time run on “I Hear They Shoot Horses” demonstrates your considerable chops with a pick, yet your style is more often melodic and restrained. How do you keep up those chops without using them all the time?
The benefit of overdubbing is that you can do it until you get it right [laughs]. Still, there are things I use to keep my hands in shape. I have a couple of Bach violin pieces that are very difficult to play but fun, because they sound great. I use them as warm-up exercises every day. They help synchronize the hands. I try to keep the right-hand picking as efficient as possible, using only the motion needed to get the sound.
How do you record your guitars?
I do the overdubs in my Pro Tools studio with Shure SM57s and a Royer R-121 ribbon microphone through an AvalonVT-737sp mic preamp. The DAW is clocked to Mytek converters. I might monitor with some reverb or delay because it is more forgiving.
How do you juggle touring with Steely Dan and the Dukes while also promoting a solo career?
It is a challenge. I try to do as much work with my band as I can between the tours, but it is hard to plan because I don’t know the dates of the tours very far in advance, and I don’t want to schedule a gig I can’t make. At this point, however, my daughter has two more years of college left to pay for—so the tours are welcome!
The Jon Herington Band at The Linda 9/1/12
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When you mention the name Jon Herington to people, their reactions basically fall into one of two ca...When you mention the name Jon Herington to people, their reactions basically fall into one of two camps. The first camp usually responds with a resounding, “Who?” The second camp was at WAMC-FM’s Performing Arts Studio (The Linda) on Saturday night.
While Herington is hardly a household name, he’s earned a reputation as a dazzling, versatile sideman, recording and/or touring with a wide range of musicians from folk singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky to jazz vocalist Madeleine Peyroux. And oh yeah, then there’s his relationship as the lead guitarist for Steely Dan for the past twelve years and counting.
Clearly most of the folks at The Linda were in attendance because of his Steely Dan connection, and Herrington was fully aware of it, but since the turn of the century, he’s also been quietly churning out a handful of fine and varied albums as a bandleader. His most recent disc, “Time On My Hands,” was released a month ago, and so naturally, he was leaning heavily on his new repertoire on Saturday night.
Not much of Herington’s original material has a direct link to the polished-to-perfection jazz-pop of Steely Dan. And, in fact, he leaned most heavily on music that was deeply rooted in blues and soul, kicking off the evening with the blues-soaked “Caroline Yes,” the new album’s title track and a heavy-riffing blues-rocker “I’ll Fix Your Wagon” (which managed to name-check both Rod McKuen and Baudelaire).
“Thirteen Feet of Rain” was written after Hurricane Katrina, but was certainly just as timely – and potent – on Saturday. He also offered the broken-hearted, Tom Petty-esque ballad, “Turn Time Around,” and the wry country twanger with a south-of-the-border flair, “She Reminded Me of You” with spoken verses about drinking and cheating. But his best offering of the night was the decidedly strange “Sweet Ginny Rose,” which somehow fused together such unlikely elements as a droning Indian sitar sound (conjured from his iPhone), Herington’s Joe Walsh-like delivery and a bold, tribal Bo Diddley beat, supplied by drummer Frank Pagano and bassist Dennis Espantman.
Herington liberally peppered his set with covers, too, dipping into the songbags of such bluesmen as Jimmy Reed (“Baby What You Want Me to Do”), Elmore James (“It Hurts Me, Too”) and Eric Von Schmidt (“Baby Let Me Follow You Down”).
And, yes, for his last two encores, Herington rewarded the crowd with what they came for – a bit of Steely Dan. The somewhat obscure “Pearl of the Quarter” was an excellent selection, but “Chain Lightning” was near letter-perfect - no easy task for a lean trio – with sharp three-part vocal harmonies and plenty of room for Herington to finally stretch out his jazz chops.
Jon Herington's New Frontier: Renowned Steely Dan Guitarist Discusses His Musical Journey
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The reality of being an artist, with few exceptions, involves having a day job, something that pays ...The reality of being an artist, with few exceptions, involves having a day job, something that pays the rent and, most importantly, buys the stuff -- paint, guitar strings, reeds, canvas, whatever -- that makes the self-expression you live for possible. For too many, the day job is a generally uninspiring affair that entails some manner of serving, teaching, or selling out.
Not so for Jon Herington, whose recent CD Shine (Shine Shine) has just been released. He hit the day job jackpot over 11 years ago when he landed, as he describes it, "the best gig in the world," as guitarist for jazz-rock legends Steely Dan. Anyone who knows Steely Dan's music, shaped with intense perfectionism by principals Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, understands that "best" is in no way synonymous with "easy." Start with the complexity of their compositions and arrangements, plus an uncompromising demand for excellence from their players; add to that the fact that many of Steely Dan's classics are practically defined by the signature solos of a veritable pantheon of modern guitarists; and it's clear that Herington is charged with a task that would be daunting to most musicians.
Image courtesy of Tony Kukulich
About those solos, Herington relates that it is a fine line to walk: He feels that diehard Steely Dan fans coming to their concerts might feel "violated if a guitarist went too far from the original, or cheated if it was played exactly like the record." His solution is to discover some signature characteristic about the original, from an amp setting to a general approach, and incorporate a bit of that into his own iteration, "in a way where I can come up with stuff that's my own but doesn't dishonor the original music."
The end result: From the "Reelin' in the Years" intro where, he says, it would be "inconceivable" to play unlike the recording, to a more slanted reference to the original with his "Peg" solo, his work is rendered with a stunning, crystalline precision, and consistently garners standing ovations. He has earned a loyal fan following and critical acclaim from those who know him only through his Steely Dan performances.
So powerful has his Steely Dan connection become that many of those fans are surprised to hear that he has his own solo career, one that involves not only songwriting but singing. They would also be surprised to know that guitar was not a first instrument, and that he wasn't necessarily a prodigy in childhood.
He did exhibit an early love for music, with grade school basement bands (he played piano, saxophone, and later, guitar), and his hunger for unlocking the design of rock/pop music he heard on the radio. "If I heard something I loved the sound of, I needed to take it apart and understand it, I was totally compelled to figure out how it worked." By high school he had a band that opened on several occasions for fellow New Jersey native son Bruce Springsteen, but by his own admission he played his three instruments "equally poorly" due to lack of discipline for technical practice.
The wakeup call didn't come until he began college. A freshman year dorm buddy at Rutgers, upon discovering they both played sax, suggested they have an impromptu jam session. In the space of 30 seconds of playing together, Herington found himself "staring into the void ... realizing this guy could play circles around me. I knew then I had to get my shit together."
He decided he needed to focus on one of his three instruments and learn to play it very well if he was ever to compete on a serious level. Guitar won out. He buckled down on studying jazz guitar in particular, studying first with Ted Dunbar at Rutgers, then privately with Harry Leahey and Dennis Sandole (who also was a maestro to John Coltrane, James Moody, and Pat Martino, among other luminaries).
He describes his first release in 1992, The Complete Rhyming Dictionary (rereleased in 2008 as Pulse and Cadence), a jazz-fusion instrumental conceived as an homage to the spirit of Weather Report, as "the end of a big era of music making for me ... the closing of a chapter."
After years of performing contemporary jazz guitar with the likes of "aggressive players" like Bill Evans, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, and the circle of players from Wes Montgomery's Indianapolis circle, he had decided that this realm of music "wasn't that promising," and went back into a singer songwriter role for his own work, eventually resulting in his 2000 release Like So.
In his latest outing, Shine (Shine Shine) Herington takes a less layered, "stripped down power trio" approach, which he describes as going back to his early blues-rock, bar band roots. His two bandmates, bassist Dennis Espantman and drummer Frank Pagano -- with whom he's been playing since the late 80s -- both contribute to the songwriting and singing in a club-friendly collection that also appeals to his fan base from the Steely Dan universe by featuring the guitar more prominently.
Steely Dan commences a new tour in July, but in the meantime Herington is promoting his own work, and already has a new Jon Herington Band release in the works for late 2011 or early 2012. His goal at this point? "To keep my own band going ... not just between the cracks of other gigs but to keep up the momentum and make it a viable thing on its own," he says. "It's the last dream frontier for me."
The Jon Herington Band will be performing Shine (Shine Shine) in its entirety on Saturday, April 23 at the Bitter End in New York City.
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"Herington's voice is perfect for the songs. It's instantly recognizable and is the ideal match for..."Herington's voice is perfect for the songs. It's instantly recognizable and is the ideal match for lyrics that are at turns funny, clever, sarcastic, and plaintive. The production is crisp and clean in a way that albums just aren't anymore. In fact this is the kind of record that doesn't exist in many places these days. It's soulful, with a varied set of great songs that showcase a multitude of influences and let the musicians shine. And it's easily one of the best records of the year." John Heidt, Vintage Guitar Magazine "Solo records by session guitarists too often hang gobs of great guitar on flimsy compositional frames, or they attempt to emphasize the songs by stinting on the expected guitar fireworks. Jon Herington's work with Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs and Michael MsDonald qualifies him as a sessioneer extrordinaire, yet he deftly avoids both traps on his fourth record "Time On My Hands", by serving up clever, tightly constructed tunes shot through with searing solos and studded with 6-string ear candy" Michael Ross, Guitar Player Magazine "For a player who's normally associated with pristine tone, it's heartening that Jon Herington still enjoys adding a big dollup of filth to his sound. …Through cascading phrases of crisp, imaginative lead guitar, Herington shows off the high-class chops he's honed during more than a decade with the Dan." Jamie Dickson, Guitarist Magazine