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Take Five With Johnny J Rivera

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Johnny j Rivera:

Johnny (j) Rivera is a guitarist/songwriter, multi instrumentalist, and vocalist originally from Southern California, currently living in Las Vegas Nevada. He's been writing songs most his life. Some of his influences range from Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Heatwave, Steely Dan, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Paul Jackson Jr, Joe Sample, Donnie Hathaway, The Winans, Albert King, Al Jarreau, Michael Franks, The Beatles, and Miles Davis. A songwriter of instinct, Johnny draws from personal experience, and lessons from the past and present to create catchy, memorable melodies, and lyrics that audiences can relate too. I love to play music, with feeling, from the soul, something that an audience member can take with them when they leave a show, that's what I strive for. A self taught guitar player, until he enrolled at Musicians Institute of Technology in Hollywood California. Johnny found his love for jazz, and blues, while attending Musicians Institute of Technology (GIT), taking instruction along side of legends, Joe Pass, Ron Eschete, Frank Gambale, Joe Diorio, Scott Henderson, and Tommy Tedesco to name a few. Johnny says, "I grew up there musically, I had no reservations about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life after going to school at GIT." After Musicians Institute, Johnny played keyboards and sang with world renowned jazz guitarist Norman Brown. I learned a lot from Norman the one thing he always said was be persistent and patient and just playin. Johnny has composed jingles nationwide. His most popular spot is the UNLV TICKETS WE GET YOU THERE jingle, which has given him some recognition locally, as it is well known here in Las Vegas, still being played on Television and Radio . Currently, Johnny continues to write original music and has performed at every major hotel casino on the strip in Las Vegas. Johnny's true passion continues to be songwriting and playing guitar. His goal has always been to write, perform, and produce up and coming artists. Johnny has performed with Norman Brown (guitarist) Tim Bogert (bassist Vanilla Fudge) Frank Gambale (fusion fuitarist) Luis Conte (Percussionist) Chet Mc Craken (Doobie Brothers) Peter Radd (Angela Bofil) Jeff Gibson (Gruve Nitro) Scott Kay (Commodores) Matt Chamberlain (drummer).


Guitar/ vocals/ producer.

Teachers and/or influences?

Influences: Al McKay, Maurice White, Donny Hathaway, Johnny Wilder Jr, Stevie Wonder, The Winans, Steely Dan, Ivan Lins, Paul Jackson Jr, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, The Beatles, Sade, Al Jarreau, Michael Franks,The Crusaders, Joe Sample, George Duke, Jaco Pastorius, Miles, John Coltrane, Albert King, BB King,

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I heard "Mind Blowin Decisions" Heatwave.

Your sound and approach to music:

When you push record the canvas is primed with space adding the sounds is the brushstrokes the final result is the painting.....

Your teaching approach:

Teaching students to understand music that lives within themselves first.. the instrument is just the vehicle the soul is where it all begins......

Your dream band:

Would love to work With Robben Ford, Manu Katche, George Duke, Eric Zobler (engineer) Larry Carlton, Al Jarreau, The Winans (any of them) Maysa, LALAH HATHAWAY,

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I once played a late show in a casino where people just got off a bus, came into the lounge, removed their shoes and socks fell asleep "I played to toes" till 4:00 am.

Favorite venue:

Railhead station in the boulder staion casino great room........

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Hard to say but right now it's a song called BOSTON by Lalah Hathaway it's surreal..........

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Miles Davis So What

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I don't know I'd have to say a sense of melody and harmony......

Did you know...

I once said some not so nice things about Carlos Palomino in a bathroom (Boxer) about one of his last fights and he came out of the stall (He was a gentleman and I was scared SHI*less)

CDs you are listening to now:

Ivan Lins, Michael Franks, The Becker Brothers, Esperanza Spalding

Desert Island picks:

Steely Dan: AJA

Stevie Wonder: Innervisions

Earth Wind and Fire: All N All

Marvin Gaye: What's Going On

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

It's become pop music essentially......Most of the smooth jazz recordings all begin to sound the same not like the 70's when you had diffrent styles the music was recorded diffrently not over compressed more dynamics...... I said most not all......

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Teach it early on in schools.

What is in the near future?

Working on my first album should be released end of November 2009

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:


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