Jordan VanHemert

Jordan VanHemert

Heralded by critics for his “authoritative sound, refined bandleader instinct and penetrating musical intelligence” (David Adler), saxophonist, composer and bandleader Jordan VanHemert is a forward-thinking artist with a lyrical and deeply swinging tenor sound. He has four critically acclaimed releases to his credit, with his fifth, Deep in the Soil, on the way in April 2024 (featuring Terell Stafford, producer and trombonist Michael Dease, Helen Sung, Rodney Whitaker and Lewis Nash). Born in Korea and raised in Michigan (United States), he makes music rooted in the jazz tradition and guided by a resolute political consciousness, illuminating issues of identity and social justice. Whether playing original pieces, songs from Korean culture or material from the American jazz canon, VanHemert's voice as an artist emerges refined and focused through his diverse experiences as a performer.

An integral part of VanHemert’s mission is to advocate for API and BIPOC representation through his art, in part by sharing Korean culture, perspectives and storytelling through music. But with a penchant for modern, swinging melodicism and complex harmony, VanHemert finds his center aesthetically in the blues-infused hard bop tradition handed down to him by his mentors, which include Andrew Bishop, Ellen Rowe, Ronald Bridgewater, Rob Smith, John Nichol, and many others. Steeped in jazz vernacular regardless of source material, VanHemert’s playing in every setting is deeply imprinted by the great tenor saxophone ancestors.

VanHemert has played with the likes of John Daversa, Dmitri Matheny, Rodney Whitaker, John Webber, Geri Allen, Chris Vadala, Vince DiMartino and Dave Eggar. He has performed at venues across the world, including legendary spaces in the US, Europe, and Asia, such as ShapeShifter Lab (NYC), The Painted Bride (Philadelphia), The Blue Llama (Ann Arbor), Edgefest, Elkhart Jazz Festival, the Korean Culture Foundation of Philadelphia, Club Matador (Madrid), and many more. Holding a DMA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MM from the University of Michigan, he has conducted masterclasses and clinics at Ohio State University, University of Wyoming, Central Michigan University and a host of other institutions. He is a SELMER Paris Saxophones Performing Artist, and KeyLeaves endorsing artist.

Currently, he serves as Director of Jazz Studies at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma and has held academic positions at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music and Hope College.


Crédit photo: SWAK photography