Jon's Biography

Jon's life with music is rooted in the state of Virginia, when his Grandfather played the blues with his guitar telling stories out of his life. His father was a lead gospel singer. Jon's youth was spent growing up in New York City and there he attended the well known Music and Art High School, graduating soon after with an invitation to play in Europe. He then attended Boston University sharing commutes between Vienna, New York, and Boston. As a celebrated tubist, Jon is widely recognized today as a true Groove Master and uniquely versatile. Born in New York City, Jon's influences are rooted in Jazz, R&B, Soul as well as Classical music. His imitable approach on the tuba and soulfully penetrating sound has given him a truly unique solo career being one of the few tubists in the world, who create their own music and performance concepts. Jon has made a tremendous impact on the ears of Jazz and Classical listeners globally. Arguably one of the most creative artists playing tuba, he can be heard on over 80 recordings.

“Sass could revolutionize the tuba.” (Edmonton Sun, Canada)

The beginning of the 21st century marked the start of Jon's solo career. He has established himself as a solo artist featured at major events, European Big-bands to Classical Chamber Orchestras, Symphonic Wind Ensembles, International Brass as well as Tuba and Euphonium events. Jon has been featured together with artists such as Ivan Neville, Bobby Shew, Steven Mead, Dave Taylor, Arkady Shilkloper, Wolfgang Puschnig, and Millagros Pinera. Other groups where Jon was featured were Heavy Tuba and Jon Sass, Vienna Art Orchestra.

Jon has played, recorded and toured world-wide with the creme de la creme of musicians such as Vince Mendoza, Hazmat Modine, Peter Wolf, Ricky Ford, Brass Quintet of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic, Art of Brass Vienna, Diaghilev Festival Orchestra, Ray Anderson, James Spaulding, Michelle Rosewoman, David Murray, Sunny Murray, Butch Morris, Leon Thomas, Peter Erskine, Frank Foster, Erika Stucky, Henry Threadgill, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Eric Bibb and Howard Johnson's Gravity.

“That kinda leaves you with raised eyebrows. Tuba player did his homework, he was right on the money: tipitipi-ta-bome!” (Clark Terry – Downbeat Magazine)

Jon composes his own music and has arranged music for the James Brown Horns. Jon has several recorded compositions, developed Creative Impulse a basis for seminars and courses, has written play along books from Editions BIM and TMV records, developed a multi-media children's show called "Sassy the Tuba" and in recent years, a team building seminar called The Corporate Groove.

“Jonathan McClain Sass, a virtuoso tuba player from Harlem who now lives in Vienna, defied the reputation of unwieldy instrument by playing exquisite trills that fluttered off into silence.” (The New York Times)

Press Downloads

Souluba

SOULUBA

JON SASS - SOLO TUBA
FEATURING JONNY SASS - VOCALS

Jon Sass’ SOULUBA program is a magical journey rooted in a sound of the tuba. SOULUBA is led by Groove-master Jon Sass a uniquely versatile one of a kind in the tuba. The music is ”a mix of gourmet soul food in a blend of generations”. The formation and music are original, blending a range of stylistic vocabularies flavoring the music, from Jazz, Funk, R&B, Latin and Carribean elements, yet , centered around the sound of the tuba, Souluba sets its own niche.

SOULUBA mirrors seeds planted from recent generations of singers in Jon’s family. His son Jonny Sass, is co-writer for the band, lead singer and bass player. Having grown up in Harlem, New York City at a time where the quality of creative integrity and the high humanity generated from the music of 60’s & 70’s, remains as a strong influence for Jon’s vision with the band. Although technology is very strongly connected to the lifestyle of today’s younger generations, music shared, can be a space where the inner child of all generations- and cultures meet, sing and speak, planting seeds for generations to come.

SOULUBA band has 3 more amazing musicians: From Austria, Christian Bakanic on Keyboard/Accordion and Julian Beran on Drums, as well from Cuba, Eldis La Rosa Monier on Flute, Alto Sax and Percussion. Jon’s imitable approach and soulful sound on the tuba has given him a truly unique solo career, being one of the most innovative tubists in the world who have their own niche with music, clearly experience with SOULUBA.
Check out the video clips.

Programs & Groups

Solo

BIG BAND

  • Frankfurt Radio Big Band
  • KELAG Big Band
  • Würzburg Big Band
  • Frankfurt Radio Big Band Soundclip (mp3)

SYMPHONIC WIND ENSEMBLES

Jon plays with various wind orchestras and the piece written for him by Franz Cibulka is Tubaphonic!
Tubaphonic - Videolink »

Groups

JANDLN

Jandls Gedichte sind Klassiker der modernen Literatur: Wolfram Berger weiß die Texte sehr genau zu "musikalisieren", wobei die oft auch bitteren Zwischen- und Untertöne präzise beigemischt werden. Ihre Virtuosität zeigen Wolfgang Puschnig und Jon Sass mit unaufdringlicher, subtil wirkungssicherer Bravour und dichterischem Einfühlungsvermögen. (hb, Salzburger Nachrichten, 17.11.2004)
Videolink »

LOW BLOW

This international trio with musicians based out of New York and Israel are three powerful musicians bringing a fun and highly dynamic program of contemporary Jazz and Funk based music born out of collaborations in Europe and the USA. There is a mix of Jazz and stunning virtuosity that leave audiences on the edge of their seats. A one of a kind Jon is considered to be the most innovative virtuoso on the tuba today! Jazz Times notes Reut as "a provocative brew that straddles the heavy metal bebop divide ... wildly imaginative and virtuosic ... together with the electric grooves Igal create a music palate which exists from serious fun .... check it out!" (JON SASS)
Reut Regev »
Videolink »

DUO WITH ARKADY

Zusammen bilden Arkady Shilkloper und Jon Sass eine Micro-Brass-Band, die es in sich hat. Kein Ton zu hoch oder zu tief, keine Kadenz zu schnell, als dass die beiden die Berg- und Talfahrt durch die Notenwellen nicht bewältigen würden.

MUTUA

Puschnig, Sass und Diabate machen zu dritt Musik, die auf einer Ebene entsteht, die gleichzeitig abstrakt und real ist. Sie ist ein physisch und psychisch erfahrbarer Ausdruck von Leben, Kommunikation, Individualität und Gemeinschaft.
Wolfgang Puschnig »
Mamadou Diabate »

Children Shows

SASSY THE TUBA
Eine Tuba geht auf Reisen

Jon Sass - Idee
Wolfram & Helmut Berger - Regie
Zusammen mit Jeunesse produziert

EINE GESCHICHTE MIT VIEL MUSIK UND VIELEN TRÄUMEN ...

Musik! Macht! Träume! Wahr!
Es war einmal ... in einer großen Stadt in Amerika ein großes Musikinstrument, das träumte von einer Reise in die große, weite Welt. Und in dieser großen Stadt lebte ein kleiner Bub, der hatte denselben Traum. Und wenn zwei dasselbe träumen, geht dieser Traum in Erfüllung. Der kleine Jon, der für sein Alter schon recht groß war, verliebte sich in die große Tuba und spielte mit ihr ... und sie mit ihm. Sie waren sofort ein Herz und eine Seele und nannten sich nicht mehr Jon und Tuba, sondern Sassy ...
... wie die Geschichte weitergeht?

Mit Musik.

Wenn sie nicht essen oder trinken oder Zähne putzen, machen sie Musik.

Mehr Infos zu Sassy the Tuba ... »
Sassy the Tuba in English (.doc) »