Jon Dalton - The Gift


Some songs have their own history. Such a song is "The Gift". No, I don't mean the same-tune of Larry Carlton. It's a special flair and mood which is conjured by a hooking melody. The melodic line is burned into your brain and you will never forget this melody again. Such a melody is "The Gift" by Jon Dalton. Convince yourself: You can download the complete song at For the first time I heard this tune on the album "This is Smooth Jazz The Box Set". This sampler is an exquisite collection of fine especially guitar music. It's the best starter into the world of Smooth Jazz I can imagine. 

But there is more of this dream substance. Check it out at CDBaby. I would compare Jon's music with Ronny Jordan, Chieli Minucci, Steve Laury or Zachary Breaux. It's the effortless ease of guitar play which is fascinating. Something what one can only learn by hundreds of hours training and learning. Jon has taught a number of jazz guitar master classes and he is a very good teacher considering his music.   

Let's dive into Jon's music. The album is a result of a musical cooperation between Jon Dalton (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, midi guitar), John Barton (tenor sax) and John O'Hara (live percussion and all other instruments). All titles are composed by Jon Dalton. 

The album starts with Champosium. Jon is playing the melody in short tones supported by John O'Hara on keyboards. The melody is Jon's starting point for jazzy improvisations.

Well, The Gift is a very strong and hooking song. Jon is now playing chords and is using all possibilities of softness as strings and a smooth brass section. I would consider this song as the "nucleus of smooth jazz". It contains all necessary ingredients of a hit.

The life of Napoli, a sunny town in the south of Italy, is captured in the next tune. Slow and emotional.

How often did your mother tell you: "You Can't Do That!" A pathetic start with sustained strings followed by a captious guitar and violins in pizzicato.

There are enough complications in our life. Master Of Complications is a place of rest. Time for recreation. John Barton adds awesome mellow sax overdubs. 

A simple but charming melody combined with a programmed stomping rhythm is the right receipt as to shown up with The Dark Man.

Sweet as honey is the slow tempo Webs. Is this a tune for smooth jazz radio format of BA?

I accept One Level Up! On the CDBaby page one can read: "His tunes have also been procured by publishers for film and TV use and have received nearly 100,000 plays in on-line business distribution." This might be one of these tunes.

Westory is a funky acid jazz tune. I especially like the percussion organ interplay.

Jon composed A Gift Returned in memory of his dear friend Julie Hanam. A peaceful tune with noblesse in the style of jazz classics.

For all guitar fans: this album is an essential guitar album. Don't miss it.

Further information

His website is coming soon.

Buy the album at




  • Jon Dalton's bio:


I first moved to the US in early 1999. I'd enjoyed a
successful career in jazz in the UK but I knew that if
I wanted to move things on, then the US was the place
to be. Another reason that I wanted to come here is
that I have American Indian roots and have always felt
a draw to the land.

I felt at home almost immediately and I knew that it
was important to make a musical record that expressed
the life-changing effects that this new world was
having on me.

I consulted my friend and former manager Tad Korbusz
and gave him a general outline of the intended
project. I wanted his suggestions on a
producer/collaborator and he mentioned John O'Hara
who, at the time, was musical director of the famous
Bristol (UK) Old Vic Theater.

John was intrigued by the project so I sent him some
rough tapes of the tunes I was working on. It turned
out to be just what he was looking to do. By the time
I revisited the UK in September of that year John had
already laid down the foundations of our first three
songs; The Gift, The Dark Man and Webs. We seemed to
have an instant empathy with each other and were both
very pleased with the results we achieved,
particularly as we had no working budget and had to do
everything ourselves on a home studio set-up.

The rest of the album was recorded on two subsequent
visits. Our timing was not brilliant however as this
was about the time that the Smooth Jazz industry cut
back radically on new label signings. A couple of
labels that had wanted to release the album
unfortunately went out of business or shifted emphasis
from jazz to other music styles. My friend Chris
Standring helped me to secure a compilation release
with Instinct Jazz featuring "The Gift" on "This is
Smooth Jazz the Box Set" but other than that there was
very little label activity.

My greatest frustration was in knowing how much people
at "ground level" were genuinely enjoying the CD. We
were getting great online reviews but still weren't
able to get the music out to the public. Earlier this
year I decided I could wait no longer and
self-financed the CD's release on my own label. It's a
big step but as the song says "You've Got To Have

My musical aim within this CD is to combine the rich
harmonic elements of traditional jazz guitar with
up-to-the-minute production sounds and the sonic depth
of film music. It's important to me that no one
element outshines the others and that the record flows
together as one seamless whole.

I hope the "The Gift" is an album that people will
cherish and play time and time again and that with
each hearing another layer of music and emotion will
be revealed.

Jon Dalton