Thursday, October 02 2014
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About Us
I have spent my whole life exploring the multiple facets of music. Combining and constructing, deconstructing and improvising, grooving and playing free. Trying to become as one with the music. Breathing and moving as it breathes and moves. Standing still and pausing as it sees fit. Constantly searching for the beginning and the end. Embracing the duration and the attack...creating and mastering what is to be known as KUNG FU JAZZ!

"I guess I've always loved music...I mean I can't ever remember a time I didn't, I used to fanatically search all of my friends and relatives record collections for anything I might not have heard," says Gentry, having spent the last decade helping pioneer improvised music in the Mid-West. "I just love knowing that when I hit the stage, there is gonna be a point where I'm going to have to make something up then and there with no preconceived notion what so ever. Something truely unique to the moment." Thats the attitude that can be felt in all of his music. Whether its Frank Zappa infused antics with the Nu Porno Nation, the hard funk groove and melodic hooks of Heavy Weather, the progressive alternative of the Lemmings Family, or the down right freeness and explorations of DLO. Even playing 3rd chair guitar in JamBand favorites Ray's Music Exchange. There is no denying that he is one of the best untapped sources to emerge.
"I'm one of those rebellious know the ones who when you say don't jump off the garage roof, are definetely gonna JUMP off the garage roof!," laughing. Never having participated in high school curiculum for music,"I never really felt like I fit into the whole academic-institutional thing. Coming from a low income house hold, you end up in low academic course studies. I always just wanted to do what I felt was worth while. School never really seemed worth while. It felt more like juvenile daycare!"
Born with a love for funk, soul, blues, rock and jazz it didn't take long for him to discover an interest in playing music. "I can remember seeing Buck Owens and the Buckaroos on TV and thinking his guitarist was just kicking the songs ass!" It wasn't long after that someone bought him a guitar. "It was this cheap acoustic, I was only 5 years old, and the thing seemed so big that I couldn't even get my hand on the damn thing. I took a couple of lessons but never even learned a song, I was way too small, I think." Undetered from the experience,he later acquired a set of drums and began learning how to play them. "I was about 11 years old at the time, and I was okay, I just had all these sounds and ideas swirling through my head and, I just hated that I couldn't play any melodies or anything like that on them, so I asked for a guitar and got rid of the drums. I remember as I sat on the beach in Florida somewhere after a BMX race and thinking I'm never going to be able to race these things forever, and I had wrecked and messed up my hand and arm pretty badly. And I had been making good progression with the guitar instruction...and I thought to myself...I'm gonna be a musician...a serious musician!" And that was it. "I came back home and put everything into my developement. I played with anybody who could make a noise on an instrument. You know, playing around with sounds and getting comfortable just have it in my hands," he jokingly says.
"So finally I get good enough to were I'm starting to be able to listen to a song and figure it out. My Mom hears me and my friend doing this and flips out! She goes out and rounds up all the neighborhood kids who she knows can play instruments and makes them come to my house and start learning songs to play together. So get this, she goes and gets us a gig at a local club. We didn't have a band or had even played together. So she tells us we have a gig in a month. We have no material and at the time no singer. Man it was a nightmare!" A month passed and the gig had gotten moved to a later date. "It was a huge amount of pressure for a 13 year old boy to go through...but I loved every minute of it! It was just like the first tour you ever do, in the van, everyone in the van, living, breathing, eating, and sleeping music. An awesome experience! I live for that rush."
At a time when big hair metal bands ruled, it was obvious that a more underground approach was needed to fill the ever flowing challenges the instrument brought. "I was really getting into fusion and hardcore punk at the time we first started to play together. I mean we were learning Metallica tunes at a time when no one even knew who they were, I'm talking about no one! This was in 1982-83 and they always thought we were playing our own tunes! It was hilarious. But we where also listening to Miles and Zappa. I don't think we ever realized that they were different kinds of music at all...we just hung out and listened to anything." So with a fascination for two extremes of musical genres, he started to assimilate a wide variety of technical facilities that would eventually be need for improvisational scenerios. "I remember trying with my best friend to figure out a way to change all the solos in the covers we were playing to our own improvised solos. I also remember not even knowing the names of all the strings on my how was I gonna improvise a solo? I was clearly deluded...but we tried it anyway!" raising his hands in that 'I don't know what I'm doing ' gesture. Well eventually it ended up working.
After spending most of high school playing in cover bands he decided that a move was in order. "I had been studying with the best cats in my town and the surrounding area, and they taught me a lot, but it was missing something...something deeper, something...spiritual, I needed what I thought was something more. And when I got to L.A., I found it! In L.A., I couldn't believe it was even in that place." What he talks about is something of legend. "In the same building you could go and ask (guitarist)Scott Henderson about some angle for applying melodic minor or rush over and catch (guitarist)Mike Miller,(drummer) Ralph Humphrey and (bassist)Jim Lacefield tearing up odd meter time like cheese cake, and in the same breath interact with(bassist) Steve Bailey or (guitarist)Joe Diorio. And even occasionally bump into (guitarists)Steve Via or Michael Hedges in the halls. It was sensory overload," but he survived. "Met a lot of people who are some of the most sick playing humans ever. I learned alot...a whole lot...I still am getting down some of the basics they taught me, but it definitely took a couple of years before it sank in to any extent," he says with a scrunched brow. "I was definitely overwhelmed !"
Armed with the library of knowledge presented, he set out to develope a basis for what would eventually become a genre on to its self. "When I decided to start a band, because my original goal was to become a session pro, I wanted what ever became of it to embody groove and improv...anything else was open game!" That genre would later be defined as Jam Bands. "I remember not knowing what to call my music...and then just one day it had a name." .....And so thats where it began.
J. Gentry Jr. interviewed by R. Sancez Esq.

I play in the following bands/groups at any given time in any given place!-Rays Music Exchange, Nu Porno Nation, DLO(Da LEMMINGS OnSombol), Heavy Weather, Naked Redheads, The Brian Newman Band, Tiny Bus, Urban Music Developement, 8 Ball Junkies, SUPER-MASSIVE, Grand Oversoul, and WAMPA.
Band Members
John Gentry Jr.(guitar), Jeff Steinau(guitar), Brad Myers(guitar), Josh Knarr(guitar), Mike Bresnen(guitar), Todd Moore(guitar),
Nick Tuttle(guitar)Andy Scorti(bass), Nick Blasky(bass), Dr. Chris Walker(bass), Jared Manker(bass), Mike Putman(bass), Jeff Stevens(bass), Mike Roy(bass), Tim DeBord(bass), Jerome Kincaid(keys), Andrew Lenihan(keys), Chuck Land(keys), Mike Darrah(keys), Sam Farley(keys), Misty Boyce(keys), Andrew Toombs(keys), Joe Smith(drums), Robin Dean(drums), Tim Hensley(drums), Shawn Elsbernd(drums), Anthony Lee(drums), Hazen Frick(Drums), Marvin Hawkins(drums/vocals), Eli Hludzik(drums), Ry Stevenson(drums), Greg Payne(drums), Shane Spencer(drums), Mike Murray(perc.), Alonzo Leggette(perc.), Matt Reynolds(sax/flute), Barami Wasbi(sax), Jake Newman(sax), Tom Tallitsch(sax), Janelle Reichman(sax), Steve Kortyka(sax), Danny Sauers(sax), Darren Johnston(trumpet), John Zappa(trumpet), Brian Newman(trumpet), Mark Bolan(trombone), Eric Campbell(trombone), Kevin Malone(vocals), Carol Walker(vocals), Mona Micheals(vocals), Jeremy Lacinak(vocals/guitar), Joe Velde(vocals), Joe Booth(vocals),Paul Henson(vocals), Shawn Shively(turntables/keys)
Favorite Bands
John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy, Kenny Garrett, Sun Ra, the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Frank Zappa, Col. Bruce Hampton, the Police, Allan Holdsworth, Jimmy Herring, Matt Mundy, Oteil and the PeaceMakers, Paul Henson, Moss Hudson, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Bob Marley, Nile Rodgers, James Jamerson, Aston Barrett, Jaco Pastorious, Bootsy, Jimmy Nolan, Chet Adkins, Merle Travis, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Hendrix, Hiram Bullock, Mike Stern, Kenny Poole, George Van Eps, Charlie Hunter, Tower of Power, Scott Henderson, Mike Miller, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Peter Tosh, Sugar Hill Gang, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, Fat Boys, Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick, N.W.A., ol skool L.L. Cool J, the Roots, Public Enemy, Wu Tang Clan, Beastie Boys, G Love, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, Paco DeLucia, Robert Fripp, Todd Huth, Dj Logic, Mr. Dibbs, Animal Crackers, Kraftwerk, Screaming Headless Torsos, Lian Amber, Fiona Apple, Billie Holiday, Allman Bros., Derek Trucks Band, Rays Music Exchange, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Robert Walters/20th Congress, Eric Dolphy,Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Mcoy Tyner, Wilbert Longmeyer, Grant Green, Charlie Christian, Tim Miller, Primus/Claypool, Living Colour, 24-7 Spyz, Chick Corea, Slayer, Tool, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Dead Kennedy's, Misfits, Social Distortion, and the list goes on and on and on!!!
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