“Alto saxophonist John Kocur isn’t called “The Smoker” for nothing. He’s simply one of the finest soloists the D.C. jazz scene has to offer—and, it turns out, one of its most promising composers and bandleaders, too.” -Michael J. West, Washington City Paper
“A promising young alto saxophonist, John Kocur has an unequivocally clear and forceful tone, and deploys it in precise but expressive solos. They call the kid “the smoker” for something. He tends to write post-bop tunes with thrash and groove, and leads a tight quartet." – CapitalBop
Jazz saxophonist and composer John Kocur is captivating new audiences by putting an adventurous yet accessible spin on a classic tradition. Kocur’s compositions have been described as “mainly straight-ahead and clearly influenced by the playing of past masters such as Johnny Hodges and Cannonball Adderley, but they are not simply derivative. The ballads in particular display a maturity in writing and playing” (Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz). While highlighting original music, the group also creates unique interpretations of popular American songs from past and present. The group’s style is an intimate, all-acoustic format, where the music takes center stage. Recent performances by the John Kocur Quartet have included venues such as Bohemian Caverns, Blues Alley, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the DC Jazz Festival, Twins Jazz, and the Phillips Collection.
In 2013, Kocur released his sophomore recording, entitled “Fortitude.” The album features inspiring original melodies based around the theme of “strength in the face of adversity.” “Fortitude” and Kocur’s WAMMIE-nominated debut album, “The Smoker” are both available for sale at performances and online at retailers such as iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon.com.
In 2010, John was selected for the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency program at the John F. Kennedy Center, where he worked with jazz legends such as Curtis Fuller, Dr. Billy Taylor, Carmen Lundy, George Cables, and Winard Harper.
In 2008, John was one of six musicians selected as an Artist-In-Residence at the Strathmore Performing Arts Center in Bethesda, MD, through which he presented a series of solo concerts and lectures.
John fell in love with the possibilities of the saxophone at the age of 10 while performing in the school band program in Medford, NY. After studying music at the university level, John embarked on a full-time career in music performance and education.