Saxophonist/composer John Devine has been an active member of the Twin Cities’ musical community since returning from Arizona in 1980. In the early ’80s he performed with the John O’Brien Ensemble, Unemployment Compensation, 64K, Don’t Look and the John Devine Saxophone Quartet. From the mid-80s through the mid-90s he was also a member of St Paul’s horn-driven R&B band the Checkers and the Classical ensemble the Twin Cities Saxophone Quartet.
In 1986, Devine and ‘cellist Michelle Kinney formed IMP ORK, a large improvising group ranging from 10 to 30 members which worked with guest artists Butch Morris, Roscoe Mitchell, Don Cherry, Ernie Watts and Julius Hemphill. In 2003 the orchestra released the CD Walk at the Liver/Live at the Walker, featuring Devine conducting a 15-piece big band.
Since 1987 John has been playing solo saxophone at various venues in Minnesota, most notably the Loring Cafe and its offshoot the Loring Pasta Bar where he still performs twice weekly.
Mr. Devine has received awards, fellowships and commissions from the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer and the Minnesota State Arts Board. In 1990 he was selected to be a composer-in-residence at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, where he collaborated with NY-based choreographer Sarah Skaggs.
Along with performing with his own groups, Devine’s compositions have been played by the Kronos String Quartet, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, the Summit Hill Brass Quintet and groups from the University of Minnesota, Macalester College, and the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He has also composed music for numerous choreographers including Linda Shapiro, Robin Stiehm Madeline Dean and Joan Najbar as well as theatrical music for the Guthrie Lab and the Loring Playhouse.
In 2010 John released the CD, A Little o’ That featuring a variety of small ensembles comprising many of the musicians with whom he has played regularly over the years. The disc covers a wide range of musical styles, all focused on creative improvisation.