Progressive Art-rock band, Ten Jinn, was formed in the beginning of 1991 by John Paul Strauss and Jimmy Borel. Their first CD, Wildman (produced by brothers Ken and Ivor Francis) was recorded during the next couple of years and, after a good deal of delay punctuated by the band doing a good deal of live performance, the record was finally released in 1996. The years between 1993 and 1996 saw a lot of musicians come and go from the band, but by the time they were invited to perform at the “kick-off” party at Baja Prog in Mexicali, Mexico in 1998, the line up consisted of John Paul Strauss on lead vocals and keyboards, Mark Wickliffe on drums and backing vocals, Bob Niemeyer on keyboards and backing vocals, Mike Matier on guitar and guitar-synthesizer, Matt Overholtzer on bass and Chapman Stick, and Stan Whitaker in the second guitar spot as a guest performer.
Partially as a result of the performance at Baja Prog 1998, Stan Whitaker discovered that not only had the fan base for his 1970s progressive rock band, Happy The Man, not diminished, but had in fact grown and flourished in the underground prog-rock scene. This prompted Stan to get HTM boys back together for a new release. Meanwhile, Ten Jinn, off the heady experience of rave reviews for their Baja Prog debut performance, redoubled their efforts and recorded the band’s second CD, As on a Darkling Plain, which was picked up for distribution in America by InsideOut Records and, in Europe, by Sweden Rock Records.
The year 1999 saw a further rise in the band’s popularity with performances once again at Baja Prog, this time on the big stage at Teatro Del Estato. The second CD, which had been out just a few months prior, was receiving great reviews, and with a strong live show, as well, the band was invited to be one of the headliners at Prog Day, later that year in North Carolina. The years 1999 and 2000 saw Ten Jinn gigging constantly up and down the West Coast from San Diego to Los Angeles to San Francisco. However, Stan Whitaker was soon to leave the band permanently, and move back to Maryland, where he continued to work bandmates from Happy The Man on a new CD, as well as with his new band, Oblivion Sun.
In 2001 the boys were back in the studio again, recording tracks for their third release, Alone, at Ken Francis’ studio, Babaji’s Cave, when Strauss decided to move to Sweden, where the second CD seemed to be doing rather better than it had been in the States, as well as for personal reasons. It was at this time, Strauss teamed up with Ken Skoglund, who took over Stan Whitaker’s guitar duties, and with the CD partially in-the-bag by the LA crew, the recording, mix, and mastering was completed at Skoglund’s Studio, “Sound Control Sweden,” located in Skutskär, Sweden, just North of Stockholm. Alone was released on Sweden Rock Records in 2003 and once again, John was out gigging with another line-up, this time with a group of Swedish musicians, which included Skoglund as the main guitarist.
Strauss returned to the States a few years later in 2004 and, once again took a break from live-performance, to get an M.M. (Master’s of Music) degree in theory and composition. The culmination of this was a symphonic poem Sisyphus (composed for piano and string orchestra). Shortly after receiving his Master’s degree, Strauss did a several-year homesteading stint after which he returned to music and reworked Sisyphus, which the band recorded for Ten Jinn’s fourth release. Appearing on this record are band members John Strauss, Mark Wickliffe, Mike Matier, and Ken Skoglund, along with several guest musicians. Available only as a download as of January 2017, Sisyphus marked the band’s first release in 13 years; however, now under the auspices of Melodic Revolution Records CDs will also be available in May 2018.
October 2018 saw the release of Ziggy Blackstar (A Tribute To David Bowie)
During the time we were working on the most recent Ten Jinn release, Sisyphus, came the very sad news about the passing of David Bowie. At the time (though we were very busy working on the album and dealing with the upcoming release Sisyphus in 2017) we decided that as soon as Sisyphus was completed, we would record a David Bowie tribute record before preparing for live shows or recording the next Ten Jinn Record: “Worlds (the Four Worlds of the Hopi).” While the band was very excited about the prospect of playing live again and getting on to Worlds (John even completed the first draft of the hour-long score) we felt very strongly about taking this detour in order to pay my respects to an artist, who was a very important musical influence for all of the band members in general, and the single most important influence in John’s evolution as vocalist in particular.
Choosing the songs for the record was not an easy thing (as there are so many great Bowie tunes) but one thing we decided on right away was to avoid any of the major hits from the 1980s or things we thought a lot of other people might do (since John was the one doing the lead vocals on the record, we mostly supported him in the suggestions he made). At one point we thought it would be really cool to do a version of Blackstar, but since it was from Bowie’s final album, it seemed perhaps a bit disrespectful to do so soon after his death. In the end, we decided on material mostly from the 1970s (with a couple of tunes from the late 1990s thrown in) that have very deep meaning for us.
May 26th 2023 sees the release of ARDIS (a concept album in song-cycle form) is loosely inspired by Jack London’s Novel, the Iron Heel, first published in 1908, and tells the story of an Oligarchy, which takes over America during the first decades of the 20th century. This chaotic period of the past is viewed through the lens of a 27th-century scholar (Anthony Meredith) working out of the “wonder city” of Ardis in the year 419 B.O.M. (Brotherhood of Man), still standing four centuries after the fall of the totalitarian state and leading to the eventual rise of an enlightened society.
The songs are organized in a “cinematic” manner, moving between the two aforementioned time periods, and shifting between the two points of view in an effort to provide a musically contrasting arc of the storyline. It is the juxtaposition of these two diametrically opposed societal structures that is important and, as such, specific mention of the main characters in the book was intentionally left out of the record.
John Strauss – Lead and backing vocals, piano, and keyboards
Mark Wickliffe – Drums, percussion, bass, electric guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals.
Mike Matier – Electric and acoustic guitars.
Matt Brown – Keyboards and backing vocals.
Matt Overholser – Bass.
Kenneth Francis – Electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, and bass
Ardis – Melodic Revolution Records (2023) CD & Digital & Streaming
Ziggy Blackstar (a tribute to David Bowie (2018) Melodic Revolution Records CD & Digital & Streaming
Sisyphus (2018) Melodic Revolution Records CD & Digital & Streaming
Alone (2003) Sweden Rock Records / Musea CD & Digital & Streaming
As On A Darkling Plan (1999) Wildman Records CD & Digital & Streaming
Wildman (1997) Wildman Records CD & Digital & Streaming
Nightmare (2022) Melodic Revolution Records – Digital & Streaming
Adumbrations (2021) Melodic Revolution Records – Digital & Streaming
Slaves of the Machine (2021) Melodic Revolution Records – Digital & Streaming