The press has described the music of pianist and composer Jo Junghanss as having “powerful, innovative sounds, expressiveness and almost explosive tension” and his improvisations “masterful.” His performance credits include concerts in the US at the Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.) and Jazz at Lincoln Center (NYC). His compositions have been premiered in at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie and at Birdland in New York City.
In Europe he has performed at festivals like the international Jazzfestival Bern, venues like Schloss Elmau and Prinzregententheater Munich and with orchestras like the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra.
Winner of the international “Generations” jazz competition in Switzerland, Jo has recorded as sideman and bandleader for European music labels and played with Jazz greats John Riley, Dick Oatts and John Patitucci. Piano legend Richie Beirach calls Jo’s debut trio album Eight pieces for piano trio, a great collection of his original and unique pieces”.
As a composer, Jo has written for both classical and jazz musicians, and among his works are pieces for electronics and fixed media, film scores, and big and small band works. His commissioned works include Negative Space Imaginations, written for jazz legend Dave Liebman, as well as Nostalgia in grey commissioned by the German State Philharmonic Orchestra Rhineland-Palatinate. Recent works include Five Notes – Five Elements, a tone poem cycle for symphony orchestra, big band and percussion, which was premiered by more than 90 musicians at Manhattan School of Music.
With a passion for social activism and a belief in the power of music to transform lives, Jo launched a social entrepreneurship project in 2010 in Ghana, Western Africa. Focused on teaching improvisation to young students in a rural community, Jo regularly travels to Ghana and teaches. He has been successful at securing support for the project, which was selected by the Davis Foundation as a “Davis Peace project for Peace” and has also received funding from the Goethe Institut and the German Government’s Foreign Service.
A Fulbright grantee to the U.S., Jo Junghanss holds both a Doctor of Musical Arts and a Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music where he studied jazz composition with Jim McNeely and improvisation with Jason Moran and Kenny Barron. Jo holds a a concert diploma from Musikhochschule Leipzig and a bachelor’s degree as a double-major in classical and jazz performance as well as pedagogy and graduated with honors from the Musikhochschule Munich, Germany.