Born October 8, 1945, in Jacksonville, Florida, John Betsch’s mother was church organist and choir director and older sister dramatic soprano singer. Began playing drums in school orchestra there at age 9. While a student at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., began playing and recording professionally with organists Bob Holmes and Kossie Gardner, pianists Bill Chelf and Beegie Adair, bassists Jerome Hunter, Chuck Sanders, trumpeter Louis Smith, reed player Bill Pruett.
While a student at Berklee School of Music in Boston, Mass., gigs with Charlie Mariano, John Lee Hooker, Ernie Watts. After military service student of Max Roach and Archie Shepp at UMASS Amherst, performances with both, Marion Brown, others in the area.
Moving to New York in 1975, began work with Roland Alexander Quintet, Ted Daniels big band Energy, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Abdullah Ibrahim including recordings, tours of Europe, Canada, U.S. and Africa, vocalists Jeanne Lee, Abbey Lincoln, tours of Europe, Canada, Mexico, and U.S. with Archie Shepp Quintet, saxophonists Dewey Redman, Jim Pepper, Henry Threadgill Sextett, pianists Kenny Werner, Marilyn Crispell, violinist Billy Bang, others.
Moving to Europe in 1985 at invitation of saxophonist Mike Ellis, a student of Steve Lacy, began working with vocalists Nana Simopoulos, Christine Flowers, Manu LePrince, Ozay, pianists Claudine Francois, Mal Waldron, Larry Porter, Simon Nabatov, Michel Sardaby, Eric Watson, Alain Jean Marie, Jobic LeMasson, Achille Gajo, Elvira Plenar, bassists Jean Jacques Avenel, Peter Kowald, flutist Michel Edelin, trombonist Marty Cook, saxophonists Steve Potts, Hal Singer, Pharoah Sanders, 18 years with projects of Steve Lacy until his passing. Tours of Japan with Eric Watson, Steve Lacy, Michel Sardaby, Mal Waldron, Africa with Hal Singer, Benny Golson, Waldron, and Djaz51, Brazil with guitarist Michel Felberbaum, cellist Dimos Goudaroulis.
Currently the John Betsch Society features the pianist Jobic LeMasson, bassist Peter Giron, a working unit of 6 years and childhood friend trumpeter/vocalist Longineu Parsons expressing the range of contemporary music from deepest blues to immediacy of the moment infused with swing and sensitivity.
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JOHN BETSCH SOCIETY | ALIVE IN PARIS