John Rutherford, one of Detroit’s most diverse musicians, has been a leading freelance trombonist for over fifteen years. He studied at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan. Currently on the faculty of Oakland and Madonna Universities, John has held teaching positions at the University of Toledo, Albion College, and Henry Ford Community College.
John has performed extensively and recorded with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theatre. He has performed with the Sarasota Opera Company, Jerusalem International Symphony, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Palermo (Sicily), the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra, and most recently at the Santo Domingo Music Festival in the Dominican Republic. He has also served as guest principal trombonist of New York State’s Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.
An active chamber musician, John has performed with the Boston Chamber Ensemble, Detroit Chamber Winds, Spectrum Brass Quintet, and he is the founding member of the Motor City Brass Quintet, whose 2009 debut CD features the premier recording of Pulitzer Prize winner John Harbison’s Christmas Vespers. He has recorded with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet) for Sony Classical, as part of the Silk Road Project. With the Silk Road Ensemble, John toured a large part of North America, including performances at Carnegie Hall. He has appeared as soloist on multiple occasions with the Motor City Brass Band, a British-style brass band and the Grosse Pointe and Birmingham-Bloomfield Symphony Orchestras. He spends his summer as an artist-in-residence with Spectrum Brass at the Bay View Music Festival in Petoskey, MI, where they run the Spectrum Seminar for talented college-age musicians.
John also performs with many of Detroit’s leading jazz ensembles, and is lead trombonist with both Walter White and Small Medium @LARGE and the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra. He performs on tenor trombone, bass trombone, and tuba for pit orchestras at many theaters in Michigan and Ohio and has played in bands and orchestras for artists including Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Jimmy Heath, Christian McBride, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, George Russell, Terence Blanchard, Patti Austin, Gladys Knight, Debbie Gibson, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Fifth Dimension, and Dennis DeYoung of Styx.
John is the founding member of the Motor City Horns, who joined Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in 2006 and have toured and recorded with them since that time. The Motor City Horns have appeared on over 30 commercial recordings and have collaborated with Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Noel Gallagher from Oasis, Clarence Clemons and the Temple of Soul, The Verve Pipe, Frankie Ballard, Carl Craig and Tribe, and frequently with Alexander Zonjic. With Zonjic, he has shared the stage with many well-known jazz artists, including Bob James, Jeff Lorber, and Kenny G. John has recorded for radio and television commercials at studios in Detroit and Los Angeles, and is a voting member of the Recording Academy (GRAMMYs).
As founder of Brass Jar Music, John has contracted musicians and produced musical groups for a variety of events in Michigan and around the world, most notably for Mercedes-Benz/AMG at the 2012 New York International Auto Shows and other Mercedes events in New York, New Mexico, Tennessee, Montana, California, and Washington. Partnering with Executive Travel & Incentives, his groups have performed in the Bahamas, Cancun, Scottsdale, Park City, and at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. As a record label, Brass Jar Music has released 6 CDs featuring Detroit musicians, with 2 of them receiving Grammy consideration.