“A Star Vibist,” as he has been trumpeted by Jazztimes, Jon Metzger has developed an international presence through extensive touring, recording, and lecturing. A winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant for Performance, he has appeared at well-known jazz venues across the United States and has led his quartet on tours of Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, and Austria. He has played for Kings and Queens and other heads of state while serving as a Jazz Ambassador to more than 20 foreign countries in the Near East, Northern and Sub-Sahara Africa, and Central America under the auspices of the United States Information Agency’s Arts America Program. He has also performed at the Spoleto Festival, both in Spoleto, Italy and Charleston, South Carolina; appeared at 14 consecutive East Coast Jazz Festivals in Washington, DC; dueled vibes with Lionel Hampton at the Jazzfest Festival in Kingston, Jamaica; performed with Gunther Schuller as part of the American Composers Series at Strathmore Hall Arts Center (Maryland); and been featured in the Martin Williams Jazz Concert Series at the Kennedy Center.
His recordings have received widespread airplay and critical acclaim, garnering three Grammy nominations. Of his seven albums as a leader, The Washington Post called his release Into the Light “music that simultaneously appeals to the head, heart, and feet,” while Jazztimes added “Metzger’s musicianship shines,” and Cadence concluded “Metzger is a flawless vibraphonist.” On these releases, Metzger was joined by Fred Hersch, Phil Markowitz, Marc Johnson, Harvie Swartz, Joey Baron, Jack Wilkins, and Allison Miller, among others. He has appeared on dozens of other recordings including six CDs with vocalist Ronnie Wells and pianist Ron Elliston (one was a Cadence top ten jazz release choice); two recordings with the John Brown Jazz Orchestra (with Cyrus Chestnut, Brad Leali, Vincent Gardner, and Herlin Riley); Iris Benjamin’s Passing By; Claire Ritter’s Waltzing the Splendor and The Stream of Pearls Project; Baron Tymas’ Insight at Midnight; Jack Wilkins’ Blue and Green Project (with Danny Gottlieb); Ira Wiggins’ When Freedom Swings; and the NC Jazz Repertory Orchestra’s Benny Goodman Swing Collection. He has been featured on three occasions on Voice of America radio, and was the first artist profiled on the Southern Arts Federation’s landmark Jazz South radio program and is now the only artist selected more than once for the program. He has also been named to both the Downbeat Magazine Critics’ and Readers’ Poll and the Jazz Times Critics’ Poll in the jazz vibes category.
Metzger has conducted hundreds of master classes from Boston’s Berklee College and the University of North Texas to the University of North Florida and CAL Arts and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution. He has also given many clinics at the Percussive Arts Society’s International Convention and the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference. He has been endorsed for 31 years by the vibraphone manufacturer Musser which offers subsidies for his clinic appearances. He is also endorsed by Pro Mark and has a signature vibraphone mallet in their line. His numerous articles have appeared in Percussive Notes, Jazz Player Magazine, and Sticks & Mallets Magazine. Dozens of his works for percussion are published by C. Alan Publications, and his 397-page method book, The Art and Language of Jazz Vibes (now in the fifth printing of its second edition), is considered the standard in the industry.
Metzger has served as the Associate Editor of the International Association of Jazz Educators’ Journal and as a Resource Team Member for the journal. He has also completed service as a Cultural Envoy for the US Department of State and a Fulbright Scholar for the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, working with the music faculty at the Conservatory at Haceteppe State University on the formation of their new Jazz Studies Program. He is a recipient of 30 consecutive, national Plus awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in recognition of the prestige and use of his jazz compositions and his creative contributions to American music. A recipient of the North Carolina Miles Davis Jazz Service Award, he is now the Artist in Residence and Professor of Music at Elon University, where he was presented with the coveted Distinguished Scholar Award.
Metzger holds both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts where he was a student of J. Massie Johnson. Originally from the Washington, DC area, he lives with his wife, Linda, and their basset hound in North Carolina.