John Wasson (b. 1956, Twin Cities, Minn.) is an American composer, arranger and trombonist.
Wasson showed an early affinity for music by plunking out tunes on the piano during his pre-school years. He was first introduced to professional musicians courtesy of an elementary school concert by the woodwind quintet from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Thinking he would like to play oboe, he started a short-lived career on clarinet, moved to cornet, and finally landed on trombone in high school.
During his secondary school years Wasson began arranging music for his high school band. He also was introduced to the fascinating world of drum corps. After completing his high school education he moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and become a member of the Blue Stars in 1974, and enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. During his two years there he played in various college ensembles, studied music theory and composition with Terry Barham and Truman Hayes, and arranged music for jazz ensemble, marching band, and brass quintet.
In 1976 Wasson transferred to the University of North Texas. After a brief interruption of school to tour as a bass trombone and tuba performer with the Stan Kenton Orchestra over the summer of 1977, he graduated in 1980 with a degree in music theory. Continuing as a graduate student, he became a teaching fellow in jazz arranging under Paris Rutherford, and studied composition with William P Latham, while earning his master's degree in trombone performance.
While at North Texas he played for three years with the prestigious One O'clock Lab Band, touring the United States and Europe, and playing on four album releases under Leon Breeden and Neil Slater. During these years he began what was to become a long-term association as a founding member of the newly-formed Dallas Brass. He also had the opportunity to perform with the Woody Herman Orchestra during their 50th Anniversary tour.
After leaving UNT, Wasson moved to Dallas and began working as a composer-arranger, low brass performer, and music copyist. He became a staff arranger for the Dallas Cowboys stadium band; he also worked as a staff arranger for Buffalo Sound Productions in Ft. Worth, where he contributed music to national ad campaigns including Radio Shack, Stop N Go, Kern's Nectars, and many others. In 1987 Wasson formed a production company with his wife Gail, and together they created film and television soundtracks for Electronic Data Systems, the Salvation Army and Zola Levitt Ministries.
Wasson has composed and arranged several works for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, two of which appear on their Delos International CD release Dallas Christmas Gala. He has composed and contributed original music for the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation's campaign to build a new theatre and opera house for the city of Dallas. he has continued as a composer and arranger for the Dallas Brass, having contributed works to each of their five CD releases, and producing two. Most recently he has joined forces as orchestrator and arranger with praisecharts.com, an online publisher of contemporary worship music. He has also contributed arrangements and compositions to the orchestral shows of various performing artists including the The Gatlin Bros., the Dallas Brass, Charles Lazarus, Danny Wright, Gary P. Nunn, and Dave Alexander's Big Texas Swing Band.
Mr. Wasson has composed numerous original works under commission from various ensembles and educational institutions, including the Virginia Beach Symphony, the U. S. Air Force Academy Band, and many middle- and high-school bands across the country. He has arranged and designed shows for numerous marching bands and drum corps, including 17 years as a staff arranger for the Purdue All-American Marching Band.
As an active low-brass performer, Wasson performs regularly with his own Strata Big Band (for which he has written or adapted nearly all the arrangements and compositions), and is a charter member of Them Bones, a Dallas-based jazz trombone ensemble for over 25 years. He currently holds the position of worship director at a local church in the Dallas area, and continues to create music for various church settings. Wasson is a member of ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Works for Winds
- American Fanfare (1990)
- The Bluebonnet Revue
- Curtain Call (2013)
- Festival Fanfare for Christmas (2008)
- Hitsville, USA (as arranger) (1998)
- In the Christmas Mood
- Jingle Bells Fantasy (as arranger)
- Pop and Rock Legends: Chicago (as arranger)
- Rock and Pop Legends: Stevie Wonder (as arranger) (1999)
- Potomac (Concert Overture)
- Pirates of the Caribbean Symphonic Suite (as arranger) (2003)
- The Relentless Warrior (2020)
- Sounds of Christmas (1998)
- Tangents (1989)
- That's a Plenty (as adapter) (1909/1997)
- Walk This Way (as arranger) (1975/2001)
- You Raise Me Up (as arranger) (2001/2005)
- John Wasson, personal correspondence, January 2020
- John Wasson website Accessed 28 December 2017