Biography & Career
Jon is a native of Falls Church, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from George Mason University in Virginia and a Master of Music degree from Howard University in Washington DC. He taught himself how to play drums listening to his mother’s collection of vinyl and watching metal and rap videos on MTV while emulating the drummers he saw. It was not until his senior year of high school that he began classical percussion lessons. Jon was heavily influenced in marching band and drum corps style drumming, but also played as the pit percussionist in plays and musicals. Some of his first major musical experiences were in the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Youth Ensemble, the Disneyland Collegiate All Star band, of which he beat drummers from several colleges around the country, and the Aspen Concert Jazz Ensemble.
Jon is currently touring with emcee/producer Oddisee in the band GoodCompny. Together, they have played sold out shows in Belgium, UK, Germany, France, and the US. In addition, they have performed at the Sonar festival in Barcelona, Into the Great Wide Open festival in Vlieland, Holland, TD Halifax festival in Nova Scotia, Lovebox festival in the UK, and the Dour festival in Belgium. Additionally, he has performed with artists including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, David Foster, Kenny G, Dionne Warwick, Maysa, Frederic Yonnet, E Faye Butler, Black Milk, El DeBarge, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Common, Robert Glasper, Talib Kweli, Steve Coleman, Meshell Ndegeocello, Dwele, Louie Bellson, Charlie Byrd, Fred Wesley, Cyrus Chestnut, Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath, Yusef Lateef, and Omar for his Sing (if you want it) national tour. He also performs with local DC artists including Wes Felton, Muhsinah, and Raheem DeVaughn. Laine has also performed at the Moers jazz festival in Germany and the Sons d’Hiver jazz festival in Paris with Steve Coleman and Opus Akoben.
Laine was the winner of Downbeat Magazine’s Student Music award for Best Instrumental Soloist in 2004 for his performance of Max Roach’s The Drum Also Waltzes.
Jon has been teaching private drum lessons since the mid 1990’s. Some of his former students have moved on to have successful drumming careers. Laine is also the Music Director of Virginia Music Adventures. He, along with founder and Artistic Director Jeff Cummins, have recruited young musicians in the Northern Virginia area who perform and seek jazz education in an after school community environment. Over 25 schools are represented in the 3 program organization. From beginning jazz bands to Big bands, to an advanced combo, VMA has helped students in many facets of jazz proceed to lead exciting, musical lives through jazz music. In addition, VMA travels worldwide performing American classic standards and big band charts. They have included their visits to Brazil, South Africa, Central and South America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America.
Over the years Jon Laine has expanded his work to include music production. He created his own production company FastLaine Music in which he has released solo material under, including 2 J Dilla tribute albums, APPLE JONS and MIV, VA is for Lovers, and Naturally Human, his tribute to the late Michael Jackson.
In 2006, Jon’s favorite producer, James “J Dilla” Yancey passed away from complications of Lupus. As a homage to his legacy, he started the DC LOVES DILLA tribute concert. The ticket sales to the concert were used to help the Yancey family pay the outstanding medical bills left behind. It features a talented line up of artists and musicians who have worked with the producer, including his own group, Slum Village. As music director, Jon put together a supreme group of musicians to create the band “the Players”, named after a famous Slum Village song. As the house band, They perform as many as 30-40 songs from Dilla’s collection. It continues to be an annual event in which artists like Common, De La Soul, Bilal, The Pharcyde, Musiq Soulchild, Dwele, Phife, Pete Rock, Slum Village, Talib Kweli, and Robert Glasper have performed. In addition, Maureen Yancey, J Dilla’s mother, is a frequent attendant to the concert.