Guitarist, mandolinist and multi-instrumentalist John Ehlis is a composer and band leader living in the New York area.
Combining jazz sensibilities with several World Music traditions, Ehlis gathers a group of talented and like-minded musicians who share a spirit of adventure and playfulness. Each musician brings a distinctive voice and breadth of experience to the stage with no two performances being alike.
Drawn to traditional and folk music from around the world, Ehlis blends the sounds of many cultures into his own unique style. As a multi-instrumentalist, he learned the mandolin busking on the streets of Denmark, Germany and Italy and has studied various woodwind instruments and percussion, including the Balinese Gamelan. While in Zimbabwe he met local musicians and performed with Motsi Uruka at the Amakhosi Theatre in Bulawayo. He also performs and studies the music of the Basques.
Ehlis has performed throughout the United States, with musicians ranging from the avante-garde jazz of John Tchicai, Oliver Lake, Joseph Jarman (Art Ensemble of Chicago), Perry Robinson and Francis Wong (Asian Improv Arts), to Marie Afonso (Zap Mama), the instrument maker Ken Butler, Joe Craven (David Grisman’s Group), classical guitarist Philip Hii, Slovakian poet Gabriel Ariel Levicky, Russian painter Andrey Tamarchenko, dancer Charmaine Warren, Basque musicians Tapia and Leturria, Ghanian musician Zorkie Nelson and Pakistani singer Fawzia Afzal Khan to name a few.
He can also be heard with singer-songwriters Scott E. Moore and Jessica Owen, with Karl Berger's Improvisers Orchestra, with pianist Elizabeth Woodbury-Kasius and in a duo with percussionist Glen Fittin. Ehlis has performed with Danish Jazz sensation Kresten Osgood at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival and has begun performing with distinguished Finnish saxophonist, Mikko Innanen.