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Jonny King has been described by Downbeat as "one of the strongest piano voices" of his generation and a "bandleader who kicks ass." A native New Yorker, he grew up in the City's jazz clubs, participating first as fan and then as teenage performer. He is primarily self-taught, having never received any formal music education, but credits pianists Mulgrew Miller and Tony Aless as important influences, mentors and teachers.
Throughout the 1990s, King became a steady presence on the City's club scene, featuring his own ensembles at The Jazz Standard, Smalls, and legendary clubs like Sweet Basil's and Bradley's, his home-away-from-home, where he performed numerous weeks both as leader and sideman. He also toured as a member of Joshua Redman's Quartet and the Blue Note Records cooperative band OTB, and worked as pianist in groups led by saxophonists Steve Wilson, Eddie Harris and many others. Throughout the years, he has also been privileged to perform and record with many of today's finest musicians, including Christian McBride, David Sanchez, Joe Lovano, Brian Blade, Joe Locke, Tom Harrell, Randy Brecker, Vincent Herring, and numerous others. He has performed widely throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia.
King has also made his mark as a major composer and arranger. He has consistently attracted the attention of the jazz media for his compositions and was deemed by critic Bob Blumenthal as "perhaps the best of the young composers." In addition to his own recordings, King's pieces can be heard on a number of other recordings featuring such superb artists as Dave Holland, Billy Pierce, Tony Reedus, Steve Nelson, Charnett Moffett, Alan Dawson, Renee Rosnes and Mulgrew Miller. King's debut CD as a leader, In From the Cold on Criss Cross Records, was released in 1994 and featured Vincent Herring, Mark Turner, Billy Drummond and others. King then signed with Enja Records and released two albums. The first, Notes From the Underground, featured Joshua Redman and Steve Nelson and earned four and one-half stars from Downbeat and critical raves from a variety of publications. The second album, a Latin-influenced collection of different instrumentations entitled The Meltdown, was met with equal applause from the jazz press and boasted a stellar lineup, including David Sanchez, Steve Wilson, Milton Cardona, and others. King is also the author of the critically acclaimed jazz primer, What Jazz Is, first published by Walker & Company in 1997 with the participation of Blue Note Records, and now translated in a number of foreign countries.
Beginning in 2000, King took a respite from touring and performing to pursue a career as a trial attorney in New York. Having that experience under his belt, he has recently returned to performing and composing regularly, and has a new CD project for Sunnyside Records in the works featuring his trio with drummer Victor Lewis and Ed Howard. He plans to augment the group, so please be on the lookout for projects to come in the near future.