Joe Deninzon Violinist, Composer, Arranger, Singer, Mandolinist, Educator and Founder of the Band Stratospheerius,
Talks to us about the band and the new album, The Next World…
I was recently asked to check out a band I hadn’t heard of, but I really like the violin and jazz like Noel Pointer, Jean Luc Ponty and Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra).
I received a CD from Joe’s PR firm and took a long listen. I was not let down. Joe is brilliant and his band is exceptional. I really love instrumental and there are three great ones on this album (yes I said album).
Joe was a great interview. We got to talk at length about his early influences, the various musicians he played with on this album and on others. If you are a fan of rock, fusion, jazz and just good music, you need to take a listen to the the CD The Next World. If you already like Stratospheerius then you will appreciate the interview if you do not know the music or the band listen to both. You will not be sorry. – JW
Note: Watch their video on KickStarter. Stratospheerius is looking to fund the production of a very cool video to spotlight their music. You can help, but you can also watch the killer video they put on KickStarter. If this video is an indication of what id to come… this should be very cool. [To Watch CLICK Here]
Joseph Deninzon has established himself as a versatile, on-demand electric and acoustic violinist, mandolinist, guitarist, singer and composer. A musician who transcends many genres, he has recorded and performed with a variety of artists including Sheryl Crow, Everclear, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Smokey Robinson, Johnny Matthis, Les Paul, Phoebe Snow, Jane Monheit, and recently with Bruce Springsteen at Madison Square Garden. Joe is also the co-creator and musical director for the off-Broadway hit show, “Spider Dance” with renowned percussionist, Alessandra Belloni. He has made repeat appearances at the Grand Canyon Music Festival with Harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio. Joe was a winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition with a song he contributed to the soundtrack for the film, What’s Up Scarlet (open City Entertainment). He has been featured in publications such as Jazziz, Downbeat, and Relix magazine, among others. An 11-time BMI Composer’s grant recipient, Joe’s music has been featured on CMT, VH1, ABC, Comedy Central, the Travel Channel, History Channel, Food network, and National Geographic.
Critics have hailed Mr. Deninzon as “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin”, because of his innovative style on the electric seven-string violin and his compositions combining jazz and rock with Gypsy influences. In addition to his work as a sideman, Joe is the lead singer and electric violinist with the band, Stratospheerius. The group has released four CD’s to international acclaim, and were named “Best Jam Band” in the Musician’s Atlas Independent Music Awards. The group has toured extensively; sharing stages with Mickey Hart, John Scofield, Tim Reynolds, and Mike Stern among others, and has developed a reputation for their explosive live performances. Currently, Stratospheerius is mixing their new CD, due out next year.
Joe can be heard on over a hundred recordings as a violinist and string arranger, most recent of which include The Kin with legendary producer Jack Douglas, Erika Rose, and Sevenwiser. In addition to his many diverse projects, Joe Deninzon has recently made his debut with the New York City Ballet performing “Red Angels”, based on “Maxwell’s Demon”; a piece for solo electric violin and dancers written by Richard Einhorn. He has also performed at Symphony Space in New York with legendary percussionists Jamie Hadaad (Paul Simon, Dave Liebman), Gordon Gottleib (Steely Dan, Miles Davis), and bansuri flutist Steve Gorn (Paul Simon, Ravi Shankar).
Joe’s most recent original projects include “Headspace”, the Stratospheerius CD, which has been described by critics as “…A spirited journey into outrageous creativity.” He new jazz trio with guitarist Steve Benson and bassist Bob Bowen has just released their debut CD, “Exuberance”, which combines original music influenced by the Gypsy jazz of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt with covers by Radiohead, Chopin, Steely Dan, and Alice in Chains.
In addition to being an active performer, Joe has taught privately since the age of 13, and has given clinics addressing string improvisation and using effects for electric strings at Berklee College of Music, The New School University, and the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference, for which he received an award for “Outstanding contribution in Jazz Education”. He has been on the staff at The New School, International Studio of Music in NYC, and as director of the Advanced Jazz Ensemble at the Dwight School, which has performed at Carnegie Hall. In the summer of 2010, he will be the new Rock Violin instructor at Marc O’Connor’s renowned String Camp in New York City. He is also currently working on a book, CD, and DVD for Mel Bay Publications, due out next year, which will address improvisation techniques for the violin in the genres of jazz, blues, rock, and funk, and also talks about electric violins, amplification, and working with effects.
The son of classical musicians, Joe was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. His family emigrated to the United states when he was 4 years old and settled in Cleveland, OH, where his father took a job as a violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra. Crowing up in Cleveland, Joe studied classical violin with his father and at the Cleveland Institute of Music. At age 12, he was seduced by rock n roll, and started listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen, U2, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and Steve Vai. Joe taught himself guitar and bass, and started playing and singing with various bands in the Cleveland area.
At age 16, Joe saw Miles Davis on his final tour and was inspired to study jazz. His life was transformed when he first heard recordings of Stephane Grappelli Jean-Luc Ponty, and especially, Jerry Goodman of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Around this time, local singer/songwriter Michael Stanley had seen Joe perform and asked him to join him onstage the legendary Front Row Theatre in Cleveland. Having only improvised on guitar and bass while keeping a strictly classical repertoire on the violin, Joe found that translating the musical language of jazz and rock to the violin came easy to him. The concert was a critically acclaimed success, and set him on his path in life.
Joe received a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz and Classical violin at Indiana University, where he studied with the legendary violinist, Josef Gingold and jazz guru David Baker, and met his future wife Yulia Ziskel, who is currently a member of the New York Philharmonic.
In 1997, Joe moved to New York to pursue a Masters degree in Jazz at Manhattan School of Music. He currently lives right outside of NYC in Dumont, New Jersey with his wife and their son, Max, and keeps a busy schedule teaching, composing, recording, and performing worldwide.
“As at home in the world of Grappelli and O’Connor as he is in the world of Steve Vai and Jimi Hendrix, Joe Deninzon may very well be our next national violin treasure.” -Jedd Beaudoin (seaoftranquility.com)
Led by electric violinist/vocalist Joe Deninzon (www.joedeninzon.com), who has been called “The Jimi Hendrix of the violin,” Stratospheerius has showcased their “frenzied mélange of alt-bluegrass, progressive rock, jazz fusion and funkabilly” throughout the world. The New York-based group has opened for Tim Reynolds, Mickey Hart, and John Scofield, among many others. Their live performances are filled with funky dance grooves, rip-roaring guitar/violin jams, and hooks that mix jazz, funk, rock with Gypsy influences. Stratospheerius was a winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition, and was named “Best Jam Band” in the Musician’s Atlas Independent Music Awards. They have been featured in Relix, Downbeat, and Jazziz, among other publications. The group has just completed their fifth CD, “The Next World…” on Steve Vai’s Digital Nations label.
“…Violinist/singer Joe Deninzon presents us with this gift of hot songs from his rockin’ live shows. Think a bit of Zappa, the Dixie Dregs or Blues Traveler, with the violin being the focal point. Joe’s talents are flat out phenomenal, and the progressive rock tapestry he weaves around himself is carried out to perfection by his amazing band.”
“Deninzon shows how he has earned the nickname the “Jimi Hendrix of violin” as he tears threw a distortion heavy solo that points more in the direction of Guns N Roses’ Slash than Yo Yo Ma.”
-Justin Scro www.cashboxmagazine.com
“Memorable hooks, gravity-defying instrumental prowess and a kitchen sink move toward rock… If Bela Fleck and Frank Zappa had a love child in outer space, they might grow up to sound like these guys do.”
-David Budin, www.coolcleveland.com
The Next World..
Stratospheerius unleash their latest effort, “The Next World…” Fierce rock to heighten your senses and power your imagination, fueled by electric violinist Joe Deninzon and combining virtuoso musicianship with memorable hooks and intricate arrangements.
This CD is full of great jazz, rock, fusion, pop and country instrumentals with Joe Denizon’s impeccable violin playing and smooth vocals.
Super tight between the bass and percussion with precision guitar and violin seemlessly poured over the top and pulled together with great lead and background vocals make this a very enjoyable CD to listen to from start to finish.
LISTEN TO A FEW TRACKS…
Released 29 May 2012
Joe Deninzon-electric violin/vocals/mandolin
Lead by electric violinist/vocalist/mandolinist Joe Denninzon, Stratospheerius unleashes their fourth collection of songs onto the world. Hot on the heals of their acclaimed CD, “Live Wires”, “Headspace” brings their live energy into the studio. Vocal rock anthems like “New Material, “Old Ghosts”, and “Today is Tommorrow”, shout alongside ripping instrumentals.
From the bluegrass punk of “Gutterpunk Blues”, to the psychedelic roller coaster ride of “Mental Floss”, and the bigger and louder sequel to the Heavy Metal Hora “Heavy Shtettle II”. The disc also features a unique cover of The Police “Driven to Tears”. This CD is filled with memorable hooks alongside the death-defying instrumental jams the group has built its reputation on. Influences range from Zappa and Zeppelin, to Dave Matthews, to Radiohead, to Jeff Beck, to Beck. Go ahead. Take the ride….
released 02 March 2007
Joe Deninzon-electric violin/vocals/mandolin
Stratospheerius is the bastard child of Dave Matthews, Frank Zappa, Bela Fleck and Medeski, Martin and Wood. Lead by electric violinist/vocalist/mandolinist Joe Deninzon, Stratospheerius has showcased their “psychojazz trip funk” at colleges, festivals, and clubs throughout the US. Often referred to as the ‘Jimi Hendrix of the violin”.
Joe has worked with artists ranging from Sheryl Crow, Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple, Everclear, and Smokey Robinson. The New York-based group has been heavily involved in the jam band scene, sharing bills with groups like The Slip, Ekoostik Hookah, and John Scofield. Their live performances are filled with funky dance grooves, rip-roaring guitar/violin jams, and hooks that melt the paint off of walls; while jazz, funk, hip hop, and world music are mixed to create a “stratospheric” musical experience. Having received heavy radio airplay and critical acclaim all over the US, Canada, South America, Japan, and Europe, they have just released “Live Wires”, which captures the energy of their explosive live shows!
released 02 June 2004
Joe Deninzon-electric violin/vocals
Jon Deninzon Site
Publicity: Anne Leighton: 718-881-8183
Contact: D-Zone Entertainment