Denny Jiosa

Decidedly not geared toward purists, guitarist/composer Denny Jiosa's music blends cool Wes Montgomery-esque jazz with elements of rock & roll, gospel, R&B, and blues, growing out of his extensive experience as a wide-ranging Nashville session musician and producer.

A native of Huntington, IN, Jiosa began learning the guitar at age seven; by 13, his band was performing at school dances around the area. During high school, Jiosa also played trumpet, French horn, and bass, and sang in the choir. Jiosa's early love was rock, especially artists like Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers, Santana, and Grand Funk Railroad, but his tastes gradually broadened to include jazz and blues. In the late '70s, Jiosa joined Troy Shondell's band, touring the country on the '50s rock & roll revival circuit. Other bands led to opening slots for such artists as B.B. King, Glen Campbell, and Leon Russell.

Jiosa moved to Los Angeles in the mid-'80s to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology and develop his jazz chops, also taking private lessons with Frank Gambale. Upon his graduation, he moved to Nashville and did session work for country and R&B acts. While in Nashville, Jiosa successfully auditioned (as both an actor and musician) for a part in a six-character touring musical, Pump Boys & Dinettes, and again toured the country. After returning at the outset of the '90s, Jiosa was hired to manage a recording studio, where he added producing, arranging, and engineering to his instrumental duties; his greatest successes came with gospel singers Yolanda Adams and Ben Tankard.

Meanwhile, Jiosa was also honing his compositional skills. His first solo recording, Moving Pictures, appeared in 1995; it was followed by 1996's Inner Voices (which contained the radio hit "Lights of the City"), 1998's Jazzberry Pie, and 1999's Among Friends. Jiosa's music has proven especially popular with new adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio formats. ~ Steve Huey

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