John Patitucci was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1959 and began playing the electric bass at age ten. He began performing and composing at age 12, at age 15 began to play the acoustic bass, and then started the piano at age 16. He quickly moved from playing soul and rock to blues, jazz and classical music. His eclectic tastes caused him to explore all types of music as a player and a composer.
John studied classical bass at San Francisco State University and Long Beach State University. In 1980, he continued his career in Los Angeles as a studio musician and a jazz artist. As a studio musician, John has played on countless albums with artists such as B. B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Was Not Was, Dave Grusin, Natalie Cole, Bon Jovi, Sting, Queen Latifah and Carly Simon. In 1986, John was voted by his peers in the studios as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences MVP on Acoustic Bass.
As a performer, John has played throughout the world with his own band and with jazz luminaries Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Michael Brecker, McCoy Tyner, Nancy Wilson, Randy Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Hubert Laws, Hank Jones, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams, Kenny Werner and scores of others. Some of the many pop and Brazilian artists he has played with include Sting, Aaron Neville, Natalie Cole, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Milton Nascimiento, Astrud and Joao Gilberto, Airto and Flora Purim, Ivan Lins, Joao Bosco and Dori Caymmi.
John has also worked with film composers Jerry Goldsmith, Ry Cooder, James Newton Howard, Dave Grusin, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Mark Isham, Michel Colombier, Carter Burwell and Howard Shore and many others.
Since 1985, his association with Chick Corea has brought him worldwide acclaim and put him at the forefront of the jazz world. His many recordings with Chick Corea’s Elektric Band and Akoustic Band, his six solo recordings for GRP Records and his subsequent recordings have brought him two Grammy Awards (one for playing and one for composing) and over fifteen Grammy nominations. In addition, his first solo recording, John Patitucci, went to number one on the Billboard Jazz charts. John arranged and produced all of his own records as well as those of other artists. In 1996, he signed with Concord Jazz and released seven records on their label: One More Angel; Now; Imprint; Communion; Songs, Stories and Spirituals; Line by Line; and Remembrance. Two of those releases were nominated for Grammy Awards in the composition category.
After exploring many different writing styles on his own records and those of Chick Corea’s, John continued to compose for many mediums. In 1994 he was commissioned to write a piece for six-string electric bass and string orchestra for the Italian chamber orchestra Suono e Oltre in Pescara, Italy. With John as soloist, the piece was performed in March 1995 in Italy and in August 1995 with the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Tokyo. John has also been commissioned to write pieces for the Turtle Island String Quartet, violist Lawrence Dutton of the Emerson String Quartet, classical piano virtuoso Ann Schein, and the string quartet Elements, among others. John has had several premieres of his other chamber music compositions, including at the Chelsea Music Festival in New York in July 2011 and BargeMusic in Brooklyn, also in 2011. In April 2012, John’s piece Fantasy on a River Theme was premiered at Jordan Hall in Boston with John as soloist with the Berklee College of Music Contemporary Symphony Orchestra. John continues to be commissioned as a composer and is a featured performer on many recordings.
In 2000, John began touring again with the legendary Wayne Shorter, and the Wayne Shorter Quartet, featuring Danilo Perez on piano and Brian Blade on drums, has received worldwide acclaim for its performances and recordings. Their live recording Footprints Live was nominated for a Grammy in 2001 and a studio recording, Alegria, won a Grammy in 2003. Another CD, Beyond the Sound Barrier, won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz Album in 2005. In 2006, the Quartet won the 2006 Jazz Journalists Award for Best Small Ensemble. The quartet continues to tour extensively around the world to rave reviews.
When John is not touring with his own band or the Wayne Shorter Quartet, he has found time to perform in other ensembles, such as the an all-star quintet Directions in Music, in 2001, which was led by Herbie Hancock and featured the late Michael Brecker on saxophone with Roy Hargrove on trumpet and Brian Blade on drums. They released a subsequent live CD entitled Live at Massey Hall, which also won a Grammy award.
British composer Mark Anthony Turnage and John collaborated on three large projects in 2007 and subsequently. The first is a piece entitled About Water, which featured John as one of several soloists with the London Sinfonietta in celebration of the reopening of the Southbank Centre in London. Mark wrote a composition for John as soloist on both acoustic and electric basses with string orchestra entitled A Prayer Out of Stillness. John performed this piece with the London Symphony Orchestra, orchestras in Scotland, Estonia and Norway and with the St. Louis Symphony under the direction of David Robertson. John has also performed on a Turnage piece entitled Scorched with guitarist John Scofield and drummer Peter Erskine, which features the music of John Scofield.
In 2009, John released his recording Remembrance, which features saxophone genius Joe Lovano and drum virtuoso Brian Blade and received rousing reviews. Remembrance was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album of 2009. The trio enjoyed highly acclaimed and well-received performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York and the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, among others.
In 2015, John released his fourteenth solo recording, Brooklyn, on his own label, Three Faces Records. The recording features his latest band, “The John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet”, with Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas on electric guitars, Brian Blade on bass and John playing electric basses exclusively. A documentary filmed by August Sky Films was just released in early 2016 and combines performance footage, behind the scenes footage of rehearsals and the recording of Brooklyn. The film also takes a look at John’s early years in Brooklyn, his music career and his home life through candid interviews with family and musicians, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter.
Last year, John, Danilo Perez and Brian Blade released their first recording, Children of the Light, which is also the name of their new trio. Children of the Light toured extensively in 2015 and will continue to do so in 2016 and beyond.
John has always felt a call to mentor and teach young musicians and to help further and sustain the art of jazz and bass playing around the world. In 2002, following the retirement of Ron Carter, John began teaching at The City College of New York and was a Professor of Jazz Studies there for ten years. He has also been involved with the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program in Washington, D.C. and the The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. John is a frequent clinician and guest lecturer at schools around the world and a regular featured performer at the International Society of Bassists conventions. In 2010, John began his involvement with the Berklee College of Music’s Global Jazz Institute, spearheaded by pianist Danilo Perez. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Berklee, teaching in both the Global Jazz Institute and the Bass Department.