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.



Hello, Detroit! (2015)

Mark Randisi and The Motor City Jazz Orchestra

Brass Jar Music


Oh, Yeah (2015)

David Shelby

(Featuring The Motor City Horns)

Rideout (2015)

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

The Cambodian Space Project (2014)

Whiskey Cambodia

Metal Postcard Records (2014)

Patterns (2013)

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Warner Brothers

The Key West Connection (2013)

Don Middlebrook & The Pearl Divers

The Speed of Things (2013)

Warner Brothers

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Family Affair (2013)

Ledfurd Records


Hit & Run (2012)

Lakeshore Records

Spirit and Song (2012)


Santiago Fernandez

Breaking Good (2012)

Walter White & Small Medium @ Large

Brass Jar Music

CD Baby

I Can Make That Happen (2012)

Johnnie Bassett

Mack Avenue Records/Sly Dog Label

Merrie Melodies (2012)

Songs from the Looney Tunes Show – Season One

Water Tower Music/Warner Brothers Entertainment

Getting Housed (2012)

Bobby Streng’s House Big Band

Bob and Iz (2011)

Bob Mervak and Isabel Nelson

Live At Callahan’s (2011)

Shaun Murphy

Vision Wall Records

Born of Astronauts (2011)


Exchange Bureau Music

Fell Toward None (2011)

Greg Nagy

Big O Records/Vizztone Label Group

Heartless World (2011)

Stewart Francke

Blue Boundary Records

Caribe Jazz All Stars (2010)

Featuring Walter White and Steve Brown

Jon Plair (2010)

Jon Plair

Jeron Ronn (2010)

Jeron Ronn

Early Seger, Vol. 1 (2009)

Bob Seger

Hideout Records

Tonight We Ride (2009)

The Reed & Dickinson Band

A Family Album (2009)

The Verve Pipe

Fire and Blood (2009)

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra


Brush Fire (2009)

The Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra

WSG Music

Rhapsody: The Music of George Gershwin (2009)

The Spectrum Brass Quintet

Brass Jar Music

The Globe (2009)

The Silent Years

Defend Music

Rebirth (2009)


Planet E Records

The Gentleman Is Back (2009)

Johnnie Bassett

Mack Avenue Records/Sly Dog Label

Local Boys (2009)

The Motor City Horns and Friends

Brass Jar Music

Doin’ The “D” (2009)

Alexander Zonjic

Heads Up/Concord Music Group

Un Canto Nuevo (2009)

Santiago Fernandez

Spirit and Song Label

Christmas Vespers (2009)

The Motor City Brass Quintet

Brass Jar Music

Falling Through The Cracks (2009)

Doug Deming and The Jewel Tones

Whatever It Takes (2008)

Scott Wilkonson

Let the The Trumpet Sound (2008)

Kenneth Robinson and Friends

Live At The Cadillac Club (2008)

Root Doctor

Big O Records

The Transmitter (2008)

Luster Kraft

Bona Dea Music Records

Cyrano An Opera by David DiChiera (2008)

The Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra

Colton Weatherston (2008)

Colton Weatherston

The Keeley Effect (2008)

Paul Priest with The Brothers Groove

Paul Paray: Yanitza & Galatee (2007)

Assumption Grotto Orchestra

Nothing New Under The Sun (2007)

The Resurrection

Change Our Ways (2007)

Root Doctor

Big O Records

Paul Paray Symphonies (2006)

Assumption Grotto Orchestra

Blues in the Night (2006)

Sheila Landis and Rick Matel

The Movement (2005)

Kenny Flav Presents Wayne Kounty

Rouge (2004)

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Artemis Troublee: Music of Paul Paray (2003)

The Assumption Grotto Orchestra

Innocent Things (2003)

Charlie Dentel with the Motor City Horns

Sylvan Koltyk (2003)

Tthe Winds of the Ukraine Orchestra

Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet (2002)

Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

Sony Classical

Basement Vibes (2002)

The Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra featuring Marcus Belgrave

WSG Music


Season of Hope (2002)

The Brothers Groove featuring the Motor City Horns

Lowdown (1999)

The University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble