Jon Brion  

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Jon Brion (born December 11, 1963) is an American rock and pop multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, composer and record producer.



Jon Brion was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He came from a musical family: his mother was a jazz singer, his father a band director at Yale, and his brother and sister became a composer/arranger and violinist, respectively. Brion had difficulties in high school and at the age of 17 left education for good, opting instead to play music professionally.

In the early 1980s, Brion and musician/producer Bill Murphy began a writing collaboration in New Haven, Connecticut. They eventually enlisted bassist Don "Riff" Fertman and together formed the American band - The Bats, (not to be confused with the New Zealand group of the same name). The Bats released a single, "Popgun" and one album How Pop Can You Get?, on Gustav records in 1982. The recordings had much critical acclaim, but little commercial success, and the trio eventually disbanded. In 1987 he moved to Boston, where he played solo gigs, formed the short-lived band World's Fair and became a member of the last touring version of Aimee Mann's new wave band 'Til Tuesday. He contributed guitar work to Jellyfish's 1993 album Spilt Milk, and in 1994, joined Dan McCarroll, Buddy Judge and Jellyfish guitarist Jason Falkner in the short-lived pop band The Grays. Brion played numerous instruments on Sam Phillips' 1996 release Omnipop (It's Only A Fleshwound Lambchop).

Brion was signed to the Lava/Atlantic label in 1997, but was released from his contract after turning in his solo debut album Meaningless; the album was released independently in 2001.

He has played various instruments on numerous albums, and branched out into production on then-girlfriend Mann's 1993 solo debut, Whatever; he has also produced albums by Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, Eleni Mandell, Rhett Miller, Robyn Hitchcock and Evan Dando. He is a film composer, garnering Best Score Soundtrack Album Grammy nominations for his work on 1999's Magnolia and 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Brion frequently works with director Paul Thomas Anderson, with whom he has a preferential working relationship. In addition to scoring almost all of his films, Brion contributed music to Boogie Nights and had a cameo in the film as a moustachioed guitar player.

Brion is renowned for his regular Friday-night gigs at the Los Angeles club Largo, which feature covers and original songs, a variety of instruments and the occasional guest. He dated comedic actress Mary Lynn Rajskub for five years until they broke up in the fall of 2002.

Soon after, he began producing the album Extraordinary Machine with Fiona Apple, but she later brought in producers Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew (a friend of Brion's) to complete the album. Brion's versions leaked onto the Internet, though heavily tweaked, where the album gained a cult following long before its official release [1].

Brion is featured as keyboardist and drummer on Marianne Faithfull's 2003 album, Kissin' Time, and co-wrote a song, "City of Quartz", for her next work, 2005's Before the Poison. He also co-produced Kanye West's Late Registration album the same year.

Brion set out on a "tour" of sorts, though in a mid-2005 show he said "don't call it a tour. I'm just going to be moving myself around and playing different cities for weeks at a time". He is also working on his second solo full-length album at Abbey Road Studios.

In April 2006, recurring tendinitis in Brion's right hand forced him to cancel all of his upcoming Largo shows. As a temporary 'farewell', he played his most recent show only using his left hand, even looping his songs as he normally does and playing the drums with one stick.

Recalling his approach to the Largo shows with Chicago Tribune music editor Lou Carlozo, Brion said: "I taught my hands to follow whatever was coming into my head-—and wherever my consciousness would go, I had to push my hands to follow. And at some level, you just had to abandon any concern about how you’d look. Performing without a set list: That was special."

Brion was hired at the last minute to write the incidental music for The Break-Up.

Brion worked and performed on some of the tracks for Sean Lennon's 2006 album Friendly Fire. Lennon said that working with him was "how I would imagine it’s like to work with Prince. It’s like having a weird alien prodigy in your room." [2]

He is now working on projects with British pop performer Dido, Spoon, Keane, The Section Quartet, and Kanye West.


With The Bats

With The Grays


Film scores

As producer

See also

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