Vibist, Marimbist, Steel Drummer, Percussionist, Composer, & Educator
John Damberg is a master vibist, marimbist, steel drummer, percussionist, composer and educator who has enjoyed a successful career in music spanning 43 years. John resides in Anchorage, Alaska where he is the leader of the John Damberg Latin Jazz Quintet, the Instructor of Percussion at the University of Alaska Anchorage, the founder and Executive Director of the Alaska Jazz Workshop, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit community service organization promoting jazz education and performance opportunities in Alaska. He is the past President & Vice President of the Percussive Arts Society Alaska Chapter. John is an active performer and educator in Alaska and Pacific Northwest. He is an ardent promoter of jazz & percussion education.
Background: John was born in 1952 in Kittery, Maine and received his early music training in Detroit, Michigan. He moved to Seattle in 1979 and was very active on the Seattle Music scene until 1991, when he moved to Anchorage, AK with his wife Angela Dewey to teach at UAA. John holds BM and MM degrees in Percussion Performance, Jazz Studies and Ethnomusicology, and a BM degree in Music Education.
Feelings & Passions John’s major passions in life are sharing his joy for composing and playing great music with others & exploring the great outdoors!
When you first experience the positive energy of John Damberg’s live performances and his approach to teaching, you know you are in for an exhilarating and enlightening experience. You get the sense that you are in the presence of a highly motivated visionary and charismatic spirit who loves to share his deep love for music, the outdoors, and living life to its fullest to inspire his audiences and students.
John’s deep passion for composing, performing, and teaching life skills through music has been a constant, unbridled force throughout his life’s long and fulfilling journey. His interest in music, nature, and different world cultures over the last 47 years has taken him on many varied and interesting musical journeys throughout North, Central, South America, Sweden and Norway. From the high mountains of Glacier National Park, Montana to the warm islands of the Caribbean and back to the incredible scenery and native cultures that make up Alaska, John has experienced the music of the land and the diverse music cultures of its native inhabitants. Through these experiences, John developed his focus on using improvisatory music as a vehicle for self-expression and communication to develop a sense of balance between one’s inner spirit and the surrounding world. John is a firm believer that an artist’s sense of place in the world comes into focus and has deep meaning when the artist is actively practicing his or her art form. In this space, time ceases to exist and the artist becomes whole and one with their world.
As a percussionist, John has performed in a wide variety of musical settings nationally and internationally including: the John Damberg Latin and jazz ensembles, recording studio dates, with the Detroit, Seattle and Anchorage Symphony Orchestras and Broadway touring shows. John has performed with internationally acclaimed jazz artists including: Wynton Marsalis, Rebeca Mauleon, Eddie Palmieri, Jovino Santos Neto, Milt Jackson, Cedar Walton, Denis Deblasio, Brian Lynch, Oscar Stagnaro, Allison Miller, Michael Davis, & Mimi Fox and with nationally renowned entertainers including: Harry Connick Jr., Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, the Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Sammy Davis Jr., Steve Allen, Joel Gray, and Liberace.
As a composer, John writes music for his Latin Jazz Ensemble and for other creative projects including: movie sound tracks, travel videos and children’s educational videos. John’s compositions have been featured on the 2005 CD release Azure by the JoMaLa Jazz Quintet, the 1998 CD release of Angie’s Samba by the John Damberg Latin Jazz Quintet, the 1993 release of Human Hands: a Composers and Improvisers Ensemble, on his 1985 release of Soaring and on videos including “Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage” and the award winning children’s video “Monty the Moose”. John is currently working on a new CD of original jazz, Latin, and funk music to be released in September 2012 featuring the John Damberg Latin Jazz Quintet.
As an educator, John is a passionate educator who uses his love for people, music and self expression to help his students develop effective strategies to realize their passions, goals and dreams while building well balanced and rewarding lives. He is a visionary actively promoting creative collaborations with other individuals in strong leadership teams to enhance the growth and well being of the Alaska Music and Arts community. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Alaska Jazz Workshop, a 501 (c) 3 community arts and service organization founded in 2000 to promote jazz education and performance opportunities in Alaska. John has mentored with over 2,000 Middle and High School students through the AJW.
John is the Instructor of Percussion at UAA, a post he has held since 1991 and the past President and Vice President of the AK Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society from 1992-2008, promoting percussion education. John also maintains an active private percussion studio, where he mentors with 30-40 students each week.
Continuing Education: To be an effective educator John believes that one has to be a life long student as well. To this effect he has attended many seminars, workshops, and summer camps including: the 2011 Pan Ramajay Steel Drum Camp, the 2010 & 2012 California Brazil Camps, the 2010 Rebeca Mauleon Arfo-Cuban Music Workshop, the 2008 Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the 2007 Valerie Naranjo African Percussion and Gyil Workshop at UAA, the AJW Summer 2000-2010 Jazz improvisation workshops at UAA, the 1999-2005 IAJE Conventions, the 2001 Chamber Music America Convention, 1994 & 1997 Nigerian Talking Drum workshops with Francis Awe, and the 1993 Afro Cubanismo Festival in Banff, Canada, and the 1990 Ellie Mannette Steel Drum performance and building camp in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
2010 Recipient of the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Fellowship grant of $12,000 for Music Composition
2001 Recipient of CMA Travel Grant to attend the CMA Convention (Chamber Music America) in New York City.
2000 Honorable Mention-Anchorage APRN Song of the Year Competition for Angie’s Samba
1998- Recipient of the Percussive Arts Society State Chapter Grants for 2007 the Alaska Day of Percussion Festivals at UAA and UAF
1994 Recipient Artist Development grant to attend Afro Cubanismo Festival at the Banff Centre for the Arts: Alaska State Council on the Arts