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A Musical Life: Jon Regen

Photo by Anna Webber, courtesy of Jon Regen

Jon Regen is a New York City-based singer-songwriter whose latest album, Higher Ground, was released in 2019. 

The record features guest appearances from Andy Summers (The Police), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran) and, on the song “The Last To Go” (heard on this segment), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) on Hammond B3 organ. Regen’s latest single is “New Prayer.”

“I always loved pop music, from The Beatles and Billy Joel to Duran Duran and Bruce Hornsby.

I spent a lot of my youth listening to pop music. But, in my teenage years, I began a journey into jazz that lasted into my thirties. But it wasn’t until I started accompanying the great jazz singer Little Jimmy Scott that I started to sort of question what my own story would be.

Credit Cover by Anna Webber, courtesy of Jon Regen

He was singing these great jazz standards from his era and I wondered what my authentic story would be if I tried to tell it. That began trying to bridge the improvisation and excitement of jazz with the structure and economy that pop songwriting has.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about songwriting it’s that you have to write songs.

We’re all looking for some sort of inspiration to knock us all out of our slumber but my favorite songwriters are the ones that get up every day looking for those songs. They’re not waiting; they’re doing.

One great thing about having come from the jazz tradition is that my heroes are in their seventies and eighties. So, for me, that idea of always getting better on the piano and as a songwriter is what keeps me in this game.”

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.