John Cantrell Music


Listen  >

Studio Musician


When someone asks me what I do, I often find myself challenged to give a short accurate description. To simply say “I am a musician” doesn’t really scratch the surface of just what that means. First and foremost, I am an organist and choirmaster (with the degrees and years of well-seasoned experience to show for it). But, when it comes to the larger picture, I’m also a jazz pianist, a guitarist, drummer, a percussionist with an arsenal of world percussion instruments, and player of wind instruments; recorders, Irish Whistles, and at one time in my life, a krumhorn player…all of these things with the road experience to show for it). The bottom line is that while all my training has been in classical music, my sense of musical balance is always found drifting from Classical to Jazz to Bluegrass to Celtic to Rock

(Classic, Modern, and Progressive) to Middle Eastern to Blues to whatever peaks my musical curiosity at the moment. I’ve credited my father’s record collection for my early music education, but perhaps the spark that fueled the fires to explore all musical styles as a musician and not just a critical listener began with John Belushi. Yes, Mr. Belushi couldn’t have known that when he came onto the SNL stage in the mid-1970s dressed as Beethoven, sat down at the piano, and morphed the all-too familiar strains of Für Elise into a boogie-woogie that a little boy’s soul in Eastern Kentucky was reeling from the religious experience taking place inside him. I saw the light indeed and knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And happily, I’ve spent my life doing just that…performing, recording, and researching music, music, and then more music. I count myself as being truly blessed to have been called to perform in nearly every major city in the US, and many overseas. It’s a beautiful life! So, to say “Studio Musician,” to me, implies someone who is called to fill a musical need; an ensemble that needs a conductor, a singer who needs an accompanist, a band that needs someone to sit in on a gig or a recording session, or an arranger, someone in need of musical transcription, or theory help. There are so many musical roles to fill, but whatever your musical need is, I welcome the challenge with joy and enthusiasm! If I feel that I cannot properly meet that need, then chances are I know someone who can, and in the good spirit of promoting music and musicians, I’m happy to support my colleagues by passing the job to them. Positive energy definitely goes full circle. .




Lonely Woman by Ornette Coleman
The John Cantrell Organ Trio
John Cantrell, Hammond Organ, John Ragusa, Flute, CJ Everett, Drums
Audio clip >


Easter Bounce

John Cantrell, solo jazz piano

Audio clip >

The Goodbye Song
All instruments played by John Cantrell. 
Vocals by Joe Cocker (as impersonated by Lloyd Floyd – “the man of 1,036 voices)
Engineered by John Cantrell.
Audio clip >  | website >    


Kathleen Cantrell, Soprano and John Cantrell, Piano

Arnold Schoenberg: Madchenlied

Sound clip >  |  website >

Ned Rorem: Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

Sound clip >  |  website >

From the album “At the mid-hour of Night,” recorded, summer 2012