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John T Cord
Hometown: Stillwater, Oklahoma
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John Cord was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1980. His parents were both music majors in college, and his father continued to earn his seminary degree and became a minister. John's father was offered a position with the Wakonda Christian Church in Des Moines when John was five, and has been there ever since. John grew up in Norwalk, and graduated from Norwalk High School. In 2002, he graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree in Music, Trumpet Performance; and then earned a master's degree from the Yale School of Music, Yale University in Connecticut.


In May of 2001, John was selected as a trumpet section member of The American Wind Symphony. While attending Yale he toured with the Latin jazz ensemble, Sonido Unidad. Over the last two years he has worked consistently in Des Moines as a jazz player and band leader. John shared, “It has been a real education, the kind of street smarts they don't teach you in school. I had a stint with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus in late July and August playing for 6 weeks with the circus band, a great gig with a lot of playing and traveling.”

With roots in Iowa, John and his fiancé at the time, moved back after completing his degree from Yale. “Here in the Midwest, I've had performances with ensembles such as the Quad Cities, Ottumwa, Westminster, and Oskaloosa Symphony Orchestras," John shared. "I've also had success with groups such as The John Cord Trio, The John Cord Quartet, and John Cord and The Cuban Players.” From 1999 to 2004 he was a core member of the funk band Bohemian Soul Tribe. He recalls, “This was a great band, with some of my favorite people in the world.” My most recent project has been a group called the Brothers and Sons, here in the Des Moines area, which I will be performing with in July for a Metro Arts Jazz in July concert.


John has been on staff at three eastern Iowa high schools as a brass instructor and has been a faculty member of the University of Iowa Summer Music Festival for the past three years. He currently holds faculty positions at Southwestern Community College, Des Moines Area Community College, and the Drake University Community School of Music, along with a great deal of private instructions both at his home and at Music Works in West Des Moines. Some of his past instructors have included Andrew Claussen, David Greenhoe, Louis Hanzlik and Allan Dean. John has also participated in master classes featuring Philip Smith, principal trumpet with the New York Philharmonic, David Bilger, principal trumpet with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.


His main influences have been his teachers, particularly his trumpet teacher at the University of Iowa, David Greenhoe, and Allan Dean at Yale. John explains, “Allan especially had a significant impact on me not only as a musician, but as a person. I did a lot of soul searching while living in Connecticut on my own, with my family, friends, and fiancé 20 hours away. Allan helped me consider the kind of person and professional I wanted to be. I owe him a great deal.”

Other major influences of John's have been his parents and his two brothers. “Both my parents were professional musicians early in their lives. They both majored in vocal music in college. My mom was actually Miss Texas in 1971, using her operatic soprano voice as her talent. She can really wail, huge voice. My dad is also my minister, and I've always been very close to him. He's probably responsible for a lot of my character. I've always tried to emulate him in my decision-making and planning.” John added, “My older brother was always my idol growing up. He did all the things I wanted to do, and did them better than anyone I knew. As a musician he showed me the diligence that is required for the results you want. My younger brother has taught me a lot especially recently. I look at him and remember what I was like when I was his age, and he's doing it so much better than I did! He's extremely intelligent, and he certainly knows how to have fun as well. He's a great kid.”

“What inspires me to perform is the possibility that I may have an impact on another person's life - even if it's nothing more than a pleasant thought, or putting a smile on their face. It means a lot to me when I know people have appreciated what I do. I'll be honest, like any musician I do enjoy the spotlight to an extent, but it makes me feel validated when someone comes up to me and says they enjoyed the show, or that they really like my playing. It drives me to be better.”


John has been affiliated with Metro Arts Alliance for about two years. “When my wife and I moved back from Connecticut, I tried to quickly establish connections with the reputable groups in Des Moines. Jazz in July is a program I remember attending when I was in high school, so naturally I wanted to be a part of it as a professional. I met Tracy Levine in the early spring and right away she hooked me up with a dozen gigs that all paid really well. She has also referred me to a bunch of others as well as a referral to DSM Magazine for an exposé that came out last month. I really can't thank her enough for everything she's done.”


The band John is playing with now, Brothers and Sons, features some of Des Moines' best jazz musicians. John described, "Nathan Peoples, tenor sax player, is a name just about everyone in Des Moines knows, or should know--by far the best horn player I've ever played with. Scot Sutherland has been an Iowa staple for several years and has played with just about everybody. He's a great guy, and a fantastic player. My brother Jamie is the drummer in the band. He's been really fun to play with. Yes, as my brother it's fun to share experiences together, but also as a musician, he's an extremely creative player. It's fun to hear what he comes up with. Ben Christenson, our piano player, is a younger guy but you'd never know it just from listening to him play. He just graduated from Southwestern Community College in Creston, a great jazz program--he's perfect evidence to this. Brothers and Sons play every Friday evening at the Continental in the East Village. It's a very cool place.”


“The compositions that I've written vary from group to group depending on the style. Even within the same group, for example the Brothers and Sons band, we do varying styles from straight ahead jazz to funk to Latin to soft rock ballads, yes I said soft rock ballades. While composing for the Bohemian Soul Tribe my focus was much more based in funk and even a little disco. That band had a five-piece horn section which made it really fun to write for that band.”


“I recently had a conversation about this exact question with a friend of mine named Reggie Thomas, a dynamite piano player. He said that someone had asked him this question and he had to be honest with his choices, some of the 5 albums weren't your typical "jazz education" based records. I feel the same way. Sure, I learned a great deal from albums like “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis and “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, but when I was a young kid developing my taste in music, I loved people like Chuck Mangione, George Benson and bands like Weather Report, Blood Sweat and Tears, and definitely Tower of Power.” He continued, “I was also big in to the band Chicago. Probably my favorite album of all time would have to be Jaco Pastorius' solo album on Epic in 1976. Jaco's a bass player and I've always had a real affinity for bass. Jaco, for me, is the end all for bass players, no matter what type of music, no matter what era in history.”


“Brothers and Sons”, Self-titled CD

Available at all live performances

“This album was just finished about a month ago and features some of our best original material, as well as some original arrangements of some great jazz and funk tunes.” – John Cord

Bohemian Soul Tribe

"The Great Beatdown", 2001

Available at

Sonindo Unidad

"Mi Familia", 2003

Available at performances of John Cord

Tom Jessen

"Night", 2000

Available at

Johnson County Landmark

"Daydreams from the Prairie", 2002

"Plays the Music of Steve Swallow", 2000

Both available at and performances of Johnson County Landmark


Metro Arts Jazz in July Concert, July 14

GIANTS OF JAZZ – The Party Gras Classic Jazz Band performs the music of Bix Beiderbecke

Location: Copper Creek Lake, Hwy 163 & Copper Creek Drive, Pleasant Hill

Time: 7 p.m.

Metro Arts Jazz in July Concert, July 15

Brothers and Sons

Location: Beaverdale Park, 34th Street & Adams Ave, Des Moines

Time: 7 p.m.

Brothers and Sons, every Friday evening

Location: The Continental, 428 E. Locust Street, DM East Village

Time: 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Party Gras Classic Jazz Band, every Friday and Saturday evening Iowa Cubs home games

Location: Iowa Cubs at Principal Park

To catch other jazz musicians throughout the month of July, click here.


John Cord


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John T Cord
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