Interviews & Features
John Baboian Interview
Berklee guitar prof talks about jumping from rock to jazz and more
By David Sands
September 29, 2017
Extraordinary teachers often draw on their experiences working outside the classroom. And Professor John Baboian, who teaches guitar at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, certainly has a has a wealth of those.
Describing himself as “rocker who turned into a jazzer,” Baboian has a far-reaching musical resume that encompasses classical, blues, R&B, Latin and world music, as well as the rock, jazz and swing that’s so close to his heart. This extensive range has allowed him perform all over the world with an eclectic roster of artists that includes Frankie Avalon, Gary Burton, Tom Jones, Joe Lovano, Jim Nabors, Bob Moses and Esperanza Spalding, among others. His recording credits include performances with The Boston Big Band, The World Leaders and The Black Sea Salsa Band, as well as two albums as the leader of The “Be-Bop” Guitars, an all Berklee faculty ensemble featuring featuring five guitars, vibes, trumpet, bass and drums. As a composer and arranger, he’s also found success in the world of television with work appearing on shows like Walker, Texas Ranger, All My Children and The Sopranos.
Prior to teaching at Berklee, where he’s been a faculty member since 1980, Baboian earned a Bachelor’s in Music Education there, which he followed up with a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory. In addition to his teaching and performing, the busy professor is also a voting member of The Recording Academy (sponsor of the Grammy Awards), an active member of the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), a multiple winner of the ASCAPLUS writing awards and a “Network With An Expert” consultant to the Jazz Education Network (JEN).
FGPO’s Jon Liebman recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Professor Baboian at Berklee, where he had the opportunity to ask him about his journey from trumpeter to guitarist, thoughts on helping students lead meaningful careers and why D’Addario has been his go-to string company for decades.
Watch our interview with John!