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John Liles


"If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."
-- Louis Armstrong

John Liles

John’s interest in music started as a teenager with the guitar.  He played for several years, but it wasn’t until he tried out an alto saxophone that he knew he’d found the right instrument.  Though he’s studied with Amy Lee (Jimmy Buffet band) and Atlanta’s legendary Bob Newman, John is mostly self-taught, to his chagrin.


After spending several years in the Seed and Feed Marching Abominable, John began playing in a jazz combo called the Owls.  He enjoyed the improvisational nature of the small combo, but what he really loved was the big warm sound of a traditional big band.  John got his chance to experience that sound when what would soon become the Atlanta Swing Orchestra contacted him about playing baritone sax.  He’s also played with the Night Train big band.


Before playing saxophones, John had a seven-year career as a professional actor.  Part of that involved singing in musicals and comic opera.  So when the Atlanta Swing Orchestra was short a singer a few years back, John asked to be given a shot as a male vocalist.  He enjoys transferring his stage singing to swing tunes and phrasing with the ASO.


John is an Atlanta native, though it took him several moves around the country before he returned for good in 1982.  He now lives in Decatur with his two Siberian huskies.

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