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 adds a distinctive voice and breadth of talent and experience to create a one-of-a kind performance every time.
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.
Guitarist, mandolinist and multi-instrumentalist John Ehlis is a composer and band leader living in the New York area.
Ehlis has performed with musicians ranging from the avant-garde of jazz including John Tchicai, Oliver Lake, Joseph Jarman, Karl Berger, Perry Robinson, and Francis Wong, to vocalists Marie Afonso and Loire Cotler, the instrument maker Ken Butler, mandolinist Joe Craven, classical guitarist Philip Hii, world music pioneer Sylvain Leroux, frame drum master Glen Velez, Slovakian poet Gabriel Ariel Levicky, Russian painter Andrey Tamarchenko, dancer Charmaine Warren, tap dancer Jon Luks, Basque musicians Tapia and Leturria, Ghanian musician Zorkie Nelson, Danish drummer Kresten Osgood, Finnish saxophonist Mikko Innanen, Argentine guitarist Quique Sinesi, and Pakistani singer Fawzia Afzal Khan.
He can also be heard with vocalist Olivia Foschi, singer-songwriters Scott E. Moore and Jessica Owen, Karl Berger’s Improvisers Orchestra, pianist/composer Elizabeth Woodbury-Kasius (Heard), saxophonist Tony White (Reunion Project), and in duo with percussionist Glen Fittin.
It was in San Francisco during the 1990’s where Ehlis fully embraced composing and performing original works contributing to the flourishing and diverse music scene of the time. Percussionist Horacio Altan and guitarist David Lofton were frequent and inspiring collaborators.
He has released four recordings on his independent label Sívac Records.