Meet John Mayer

In October 2018 PRSSV Institute of Performing Arts and Heritage launched the touring heritage exhibition, talks and concerts celebrating the life and legacy of ground-breaking composer, musician and Indo-Jazz pioneer, John Mayer (1929-2004).

This major retrospective shines a light on the fascinating life of renaissance composer John Mayer. Supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, PRSSV with a team of dedicated volunteers has digitised, interpreted and enhanced an archive documenting what has evolved into ‘’Meet John Mayer’’.

The launch of the multimedia exhibition took place in the presence of his family and with performances led by his son, the sitarist and composer, Jonathan Mayer at the Watermans, London in October 2018. To date this exhibition has been hosted by Uxbridge Library (January 2019) and Harrow Arts Centre (February 2019). The latter featured a memorable concert of Indo Jazz Flavours with Jonathan Mayer (sitar) and Steve Tromans on piano.

About John Mayer

John Mayer (1929-2004) was a composer and musician of Anglo-Indian descent, trained in both Indian and Western Classical music. His pioneering work from the 1950s onwards brought the foundation of fusion music, a common feature in British music making. He opened up the possibility of successful collaborations between artists in different genres. John Mayer’s story is key to understanding the heritage of contemporary British music.

‘Meet John Mayer’ explored various aspects of John Mayer’s life, with over twenty panels and main subject headings such as: his life, timeline, violinist, composer, Indo Jazz Fusions, his legacy and more.

Indo Jazz Fusions was a “double quintet” of five Indian and five Jazz musicians who performed together in the 1960s.

Atlantic Records’ co-founder, Ahmet Ertegun, who was impressed by John Mayer’s Jazz piece ‘Nine for Bacon’ introduced Mayer to Jamaican Jazz saxophonist, Joe Harriott, suggesting they work together on a new album blending Indian Classical music and Jazz music.

The album ‘Indo-Jazz Fusions’ (1966) found immediate success in avant-garde circles. Notable musicians who performed in the ‘Fusions’ ensemble included Larry Adler, John Williams, Tubby Hayes, Keith Emerson and dancer Surya Kumari. Mayer and Harriott continued to record and tour until Harriott’s death in 1973.

In 1995, John Mayer reformed the Indo-Jazz project with encouragement from his students at Birmingham Conservatoire and his son Jonathan Mayer. This again was me with success leading to the release of four albums, major tours and appearances at numerous festivals until John Mayer’s death in 2004.

Project Highlights

  1. Launch of the multimedia exhibition and premiere of the documentary film ‘Meet John Mayer’.
  2. Several performances of John Mayer’s Indo Jazz compositions.
  3. World premiere live performance of John Mayer’s 1976 album fusion of Indian, South East Asian and Jazz music album, Dhammapada on 20th October 2018 at Watermans, London.
  4. Jonathan Mayer worked with several schools in Hillingdon to create a new piece which was inspired by Mowgli Tales by composer John Mayer which was showcased at Winston Churchill Theatre Ruislip on 31 January 2019.

Testimonial from a partner organisation

“The project, which also involved a visiting exhibition at Uxbridge Library, was led by PRSSV, working with Hillingdon Music Hub, Hillingdon Libraries Hillingdon Theatres and Hillingdon Museums, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional value being provided via the Music Hub’s Arts Council England/DfE core grant. The project has enabled us to engage with schools where the Hub hasn’t previously run musical activities, and we are hopeful that the circa 140 young people who participated will have this event as a strong musical memory for the rest of their lives”. Tim Saward, Museum and Performing Arts Manager for Hillingdon.

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund