"One of those exciting, unexplainable musical moments"
Artist biography John "Baron" Von Ohlen
"Baron" John Von Ohlen has always been busy, very busy putting together the sounds and rhythms in which he fervently believes.
It would be easy to believe that John Von Ohlen was born with a cymbal or tom-tom in his mouth, or at least had them waiting in his bassinette. At the ancient age of four, John began the study of piano; this was followed by trombone at age ten, and topped off with drums several years later.
At the age of 14, three years before he ever sat behind a kit or held a drumstick in his hand, John Von Ohlen became a drummer: "I didn't know anything about drums or even think about them, but when I saw Mel Lewis that night the next day when I woke up, in my head, I was a drummer," says Von Ohlen.
John's father, who got a pretty good ear, would hear his son play at night when he got home from work. John: "My dad said: "'For the first few months, I didn't know what you were doing in there. It just didn't make it. One night, you were playing and all of a sudden it sounded good. It was really overnight.' I just kept playing until it clicked. I taught myself. I never took lessons. For a long time I couldn't use the hi-hat. I didn't know what to do with it."
Several years and many beats later, John Von Ohlen toured with Ralph Marterie, performed with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under Warren Covington, played with Billy Maxted's Manhattan Jazz Band, and with Woody Herman. The year spent providing the rhythmic pulse for Woody was a memorable and maturing experience for the Baron, made infinitely more exciting by the jazz greats who helped to spark the band.
John's experience led to a two week tour of Japan with Mel Torme' and the Marty Paich Orchestra, followed by a series of recording sessions with Carmen McRae.
In the summer of 2004 he spent three months away from his drum kit after a sidewalk tumble left him with a broken elbow. But John has been drumming ever since, as well as teaching at the University of Cincinnati and even giving private lessons and doing workshops.