The John Burnett Orchestra

Why book The John Burnett Orchestra?

The John Burnett Orchestra is a high profile band consisting of Chicago's finest musicians most of whom have played with name bands such as those of Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson and many others. We do Theater Concerts, Weddings, Swing Dances, Jazz Festivals. Jazz Clubs, Corporate Functions, Society events, and other private gigs. We have recorded with clarinetist Buddy Defranco and trumpeter Randy Sandke and performed with Louie Bellson, Ernestine Anderson, Byron Stripling, Peter Appleyard and many others. Our CD's Down for double, Swingin in the Windy City, and West of State Street/East of Harlem have all met with rave reviews from International Jazz Critics and in the USA.



Review by Charlie S.

We have had the privilege of developing a relationship with John Burnett over the past couple of years. Initially, we were merely part of the crowd at FitzGerald’s enjoying The John Burnett Swing Orchestra play their monthly show. Then we looked forward to hearing John’s voice bright and early each morning as our favorite DJ on WDCB. When we started planning our wedding, we thought it would be a dream come true to have John Burnett perform at the reception. To us and many others, he is a true celebrity! When we approached John with our request, we quickly realized that the talented and professional band leader we had come to know was also very kind, easy to talk with and very accommodating. We eagerly booked John and his wonderful orchestra for our wedding reception, knowing that their presence would make our event extraordinary.

John was very easy to work with, especially considering our difficult reception space; an airplane hangar! He met with us on several occasions prior to our event to review the schedule for the evening and to help us develop a play list of songs that would enhance each part of our reception, from dinner to dancing. He took the initiative to ask us ahead of time if there were any special songs we wanted him to play and offered to find arrangements for the special song we used for our first dance. John ensured the band was set up in the reception space on time and worked seamlessly with our other vendors throughout the night, keeping our reception on schedule. John was a true Emcee, not just a band leader, exuding elegance and class to all of our guests.

The orchestra is comprised of talented, enthusiastic musicians that are held to the highest of standards. The band sounded great, even with our reception set in a large airplane hangar with very unforgiving acoustics. They are true professionals that seemed to enjoy entertaining our guests with their timeless music.

It was wonderful to have the John Burnett Swing Orchestra perform at our wedding reception. We felt honored to have such a talented, respected, and well-known local celebrity host our event. John and his Orchestra truly cared about making our wedding reception special and their presence added a touch of class that made our wedding reception unlike any other.

Charlie and Mary
November 20th, 2010

Priced Fairly
Reviewer: Charlie S.
Event: Wedding Reception in Wheeling, IL
Event Date: Nov 20, 2010
Hired As: Big Band, Jazz Band, Swing Band

Response from The John Burnett Orchestra:

Hello Charlie and Mary.

I thank you both for your kind testimonial and for your appreciation of the band. I know that the Boys in the Band thoroughly enjoyed playing for your wedding and it was in fact a wonderful experience playing in an Aircraft Hanger. It was a unique idea and the accoustics were actually not bad at all.

We found your respective families and guests to be wonderful people and we were truly honored to be a part of that magnificent event. Also it is nice to see you at Fitzgerald's and the other locations where we perform. I do consider you both as personal friends now and we also appreciate your support of 90.9FM WDCB Public Radio.


John Burnett

Review by Steve L.

John and his group were part of our Annual Keyboard Pops Concert, which has been going on for 15 years at the Rialto Square Theatre. From time to time, we change out groups and I have to say that the talent and skill he and his band displayed were excellent! So much so that we have re-booked them for 2012. The audience responded warmly and with great enthusiasm to their part of the show, and their work with our keyboard artists was equally as smooth. I am pleased to support and recommend anyone who is thinking about hiring/hearing them.

Priced Fairly
Reviewer: Steve L.
Organization: Producer/Keyboard Pops Extravaganza
Event: Concert Venue in Joliet, IL
Event Date: Apr 30, 2011
Hired As: Big Band, Swing Band

Response from The John Burnett Orchestra:

Thank you Steve on behalf of the boys in the band, myself and Frieda Lee. We had a wonderful time playing the Rialto Square Theatre and that large Audience was absolutely amazing. They showed their enthusiasm in so many ways, their applause, standing ovations and their comments that were buzzing around the theatre all evening. We are looking foward to meeting them all again next year. Oh! and what a beautiful theatre that is. We hope our fans and supporters from elsewhere come to join us next year to take that 1200 to maximum capacity.

Booking Info

  • Typical Gig: 90 - 240 minutes
  • Fee: $1,800.00 to $3,000.00
  • Languages: English
  • Unions: AFM


For concert Goers: an electrifying and exciting swinging sound like none other.
For Dancers: an exhilerating and elictifying night of Swing Dancing, Jitterbugging and energy spending joy:
For jazz lovers: an incredible evening of jazz from Basie to Herman to Les Brown to Goodman, Ted Heath and more.
For all: A time that will never be forgotten and often talked about.
We will cater for everyone, for every type of function and we will most certainly generate much interest for future referrals and dates

Additional Booking Notes

Lighting: typical theatre or ballroom setting plus spotlighting for soloists.
Stage: typically three layers with trumpets at the back, trombones in front of trumpets and saxes in front of trombones.
Rhythm off to the right when facing stage.
Sound system: mic all instruments (13 instruments plus piano and vocalist together with the leader.
Sound systems by others unless specifically agreed in advance (we have a small sound system for smaller rooms for an extra $200. Ideally we prefer to have the sound provide by others including a sound engineer present throughout the gig.

Past Booked Events

02/24/13 Fitzgerald's Roosevelt Rd Berwyn
02/17/13 Untitled 111.W.Kinzie Chicago
02/09/13 Untitled 111 W. Kinzie Chicago

The John Burnett Orchestra

The John Burnett Orchestra was formed January 28, 1999 in Chicago by Broadcaster/jazz radio host John Burnett of 90.9FM WDCB Public Radio, Chicago's only full time Jazz Station (

Over the years, the band has become well known for it's sheer accuracy of recreating the sounds of the swing era, the bands of the past such as Basie, Miller Herman, Dorsey,and others.

It is praised for its tightness and use of musical dynamics and praised even more so for its ability to swing mightily. Some Critics have said that we can sound more like Basie than Basie as we duplicate the sounds of arrangers like Neil Hefti, Freddie Green,Nestico, Frank Foster and others. We are seen as a delight for listeners and dancers alike. Our recordings on Delmark are a treasure but those who follow us around are always knocked out by hearing the band live.

The band has played almost every jazz club in Chicago, The Hyde Park Jazz Festival, major corporate functions and weddings and theatres like the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Illinois. It's beauty and elecrifying sounds are as a result of the fact that most musicians are Julliard standard, highly proficient and are brilliant soloists.

Each section of the band (four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes, piano, bass and drums) consist of musicians who are all rhythm concious in every way and their ability as a team to play our brilliant arrangements makes the band come alive with stedfast accuracy in recreating the name bands of yesteryear in a tight manner, but with streamined solo techniques and dynamic accuracy.

Ou regular vocalist Ms. Frieda Lee is a great attraction to those who love Ella, Sarah, Carmen MacCrae and other big band vocalists. Her reputation accross the United States is high. She has sung and toured in the past with Basie vocalist Joe Williams, also Kevin Mahogany and others.

Many of the sidemen in the band have also been with other name bands. In some cases certain players have left the band to join the Glenn Miller Band but have then returned to the JBO.

We are also an organization that is fully compatible with major stars. As an example when trumpeter Byron Stripling, vibist Peter Appleyard, Trumpeter Randy Sandke, and Drummer Louie Bellson plus Ernestine Anderson performed with us they brought their own arrangements and requested a rehearsal before the show. After a couple of minutes they realised that rehearsals were not neccessary due to brilliant reading,execution of dynamics, and tight accurate performances of the ensemble.

Should a potential client need us to put together a show that consisted of high profile and world renowned performers such as Tonny Bennett, Michael Buble, or any other well known jazz performer the band can read and interpret at sight. If a theatre needed a band of this size to perform for a summer season or longer for a number of Major artists we could do it perfectly.

The performing standards of the band are self monitoring since each musician is accountable for rhythm, Intonation, pitch, dymanics and they listen to each other. This is why we do absolute justice to Basie, Herman, Miller, Buddy Rich when we perform their arrangements in public.

As proof of our standards and abilities you have only to google certain phrases such as: The John Burnett Orchestra, or Reviews of the John Burnett Orchestra CD's or ask for reviews of our specific recordings: Swingin In the Windy City, West of State Street / East of Harlem with Trumpeter Randy Sandke or our recent album in 2010 Down for Double. Many critics will tell you about how wonderful this band is and why we are such a pleasure to listen to.

The team providing the talent:

John Burnett


Bob Frankich

Lead Alto

Justin May

2nd Alto

David Kublank

Lead Tenor

Alex Beltran

2nd Tenor

Bruce Mack

Baritone Sax

Terry Connell

Lead Trumpet

Mike McGrath

2nd Trumpet

Doug Scharf

3rd trumpet

Christian Anderson

4th Trumpet

Adam Gross

Lead trombone

Russ Phillips

2nd trombone

Dana Legg

3rd trombone

Bill Walsh

Bass trombone

Kevin Fort


Bill Byan


Paul Martin


Frieda Lee


Set List


Influences & Inspiration

Our wide variety of fans accross all ages are the best authority on this question. They we tell you we are the best big band available at this time. They will tell you that we are Basie to a tee. We sound like Basie when playing Basie as we do Goodman, Herman and all the others. Glenn Miller was my first influence and I always wanted to follow in his steps with that gorgeous reed sound and the sophistication of the last century. If I can get the band to Carnegie Hall and repeat that famous Benny Goodman Concert it would be my dying wish. I will never stop trying to achieve that golden ambition.

Setup Requirements

From a simple chair to full-blown stage and lighting, there are certain configurations and needs that many performers and service providers require in order to provide the best possible experience at your event. Get a free quote request to check with The John Burnett Orchestra to find out what their setup requirements are.

Free Quote Request


You might also like:

Jerry Armstrong
0 reviews

With his band or solo -Singing Impressionist(sounds like the real thing) Sinatra,…

Tribute Artist

Chicago, IL

June's Got the Cash- A Johnny & June Tribute…
19 reviews

Broadway Styled Tribute show JUNE'S GOT THE CASH celebrates the music of Johnny…

Tribute Band

Chicago, IL

Felix and Fingers: Dueling Pianos and Jazz Duo
31 reviews

LOOK NO FURTHER, YOU'VE FOUND THE BEST! Felix and Fingers provide a high energy,…

Dueling Pianos

Crystal Lake, IL

Cara Dunning Art
13 reviews

Former Walt Disney World Caricature Artist Cara provides an experience for the guest…


Chicago, IL