John Baboian

Professor
617 747-8106

"I get a lot of students who are rockers that want to study jazz because I can relate to them from both avenues. I was originally a rocker who turned into a jazzer. So I'm able to relate to them on a level where they're coming from, and I can give them some information with materials that helps them dive into it."

"I want my students to have such a great wealth of knowledge and abilities that they can do any gig that comes before them. Because the music business is as fickle as it is, we never know where our next call is coming from. The more diverse your playing abilities, the more chances you give yourself to get work. I always use this story: Suppose someone called you to play a gig at a ski chalet in Switzerland in January for three weeks, fifteen hundred bucks a week, all expenses paid, but you've got to play the banjo. It's all about flexibility, because otherwise you pigeonhole yourself into one spot and you limit the amount of work that you can get. That's okay, if you can play like Herbie Hancock or Jimi Hendrix, but if you're not quite Herbie or Jimi, you've got to work with what you've got."

"We've got 1,000 guitar players at Berklee, and they're all different. They're everyone from average players because performance is not their main focus—they're either songwriters or composers—to some people you listen to and think, 'Wow, five or ten years from now we're going to be hearing his/her name in Down Beat magazine.' Then there are people who do such a big cross section of things that you know at some point they're going to get a lot of work. Their names might not be out there in the open, but they're going to be doing a lot of things. That's really important."

"We get the misconception that you've got to be John Scofield or Pat Metheny. But that's such a small percentage of the population of musicians. For most musicians who are not quite up to that level, you're accompanying, you're part of band. The music wouldn't be the same without you, but it's not your name drawing the crowd. And that's okay. There's something to be said for being the side person and doing your job well. You get to be a part of making the music sound great and not have to worry about all the logistics. Go play the gig, do the music, do your job well, take the check, and don't worry about all the rest. That's the job of the versatile side musician. And that's, at least, what I am trying to prepare my students to be."

Career Highlights
  • B.M., music education, Berklee College of Music
  • M.M., jazz studies, New England Conservatory
  • Guitarist, composer, and educator
  • Performances include concerts, clubs, recordings, radio, and television throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Japan, Central America, Europe, South Africa, and the former Soviet Union, including his ancestral home, Armenia
  • Compositions and arrangements have been heard on Walker, Texas Ranger, UPN’s Seven Days, ABC’s All My Children, HBO’s The Soprano’s, and others
  • Performances with Frankie Avalon, Gary Burton, Alan Dawson, Sergio Franchi, Connie Francis, Joe Lovano, Al Martino, Marilyn Michaels, Bob Moses, Jim Nabors, Herb Pomeroy, Bobby Rydell, Leni Stern, Ben Vereen, Phil Wilson, and many others
  • Recent recordings with the Boston Big Band, the World Leaders, the Black Sea Salsa Band, and a host of vocalists from the New England area
  • Released The Be-Bop Guitars…and More! (2000) and Freshly Painted Blues (2007)
  • Member of American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) and a voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys)