Born in Baltimore, bred in Los Angeles, John Allen Graves composes music for film, concert halls, classrooms and practice rooms. John’s music is steeped in multiple traditions, and is therefore not innovative in the slightest. Recent projects include a “Los Angeles Montage” for the DTLA Film Festival, the score to the feature length documentary “American Circumcision,” a set of canons by symmetrical inversion for violoncello and double bass, as well as pieces for middle and high school string orchestra.
John began his musical development singing in a local children’s choir. He started piano at 8, switching to electric bass at age 13 and took up double bass at 17, studying at the Colburn School. A composition major, and student of Boulanger pupil Joel Feigin, John received his Bachelor of Music from UC Santa Barbara, where he studied classical bass with Nico Abondolo. He then went on to study North Indian classical music at the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music for a summer.
Upon graduating, John moved back to his native Los Angeles where he delved more deeply into jazz improvisation with Harold Land, Billy Higgins, Roberto Miranda and Kenny Burrell, and film scoring, both through the UCLA extension program.
Since leaving academia, John has worked as a composer, bassist and producer in such diverse areas as classical, jazz, pop, rock, folk, Arabic, gospel, Klezmer, hip-hop, Western swing, film music and reggae. John has composed for Emmy-winning Discovery Channel documentaries, student films and reality TV. As bassist for the stage and dance bands on Holland America’s Ryndam cruise ship during the summer of 2001, John performed every day in a variety of styles, supporting the cast in Broadway style productions as well as guest artists ranging from classical pianists to comedians. Ian Hattwick’s Handwritten, from 2006 is a excellent example of John’s work as an interpreter of another composer’s work. A 2012 concert at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman was a highlight of his work with Mesto. In 2013 he was the bassist for “When You’re In Love, The Whole World is Jewish,” directed by Jason Alexander.
He currently freelances in both jazz combos and symphony orchestras. John composes trailer music for audiomachine, a music library. His compositions have been featured in the promotional campaigns for “Rango”, the 2010 Winter Olympics, “Argo,” “Rio,” “Jane Eyre,” “Hyde Park on Hudson,” “Philomena,” and “The King’s Speech.”