Jonah Jonathan


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Jonah Jonathan has been playing four string instruments since he was ten years old. Jonathan points out, "Actually since age two, if you count strumming on the ukulele back where I'm from in Hawaii." He was inspired to dedicate himself to music after his grandfather (who played French horn, trumpet, and piano) passed on suddenly just a few days after Jonah's first orchestra concert. The bassist muses, "Had it not been for my grandfather, probably I would not be playing bass, let alone music in general. He was a huge inspiration and my first fan." Jonathan played classical music in the orchestra from 5th grade but never took it too seriously until ninth grade when he found a good teacher. He recalls the first time that year when he became turned onto jazz: "I was on a field trip with my school orchestra to Boston Symphony Hall to see Wynton Marsalis rehearse All Rise, his Jazz/Classical composition. As soon as I saw the bass player holding down the groove in the most bad ass way imaginable, I said to myself, hey, I bet I could do that!" He enrolled at 14 into a college jazz class at Berkshire Community College taught by saxophonist Alan Livermore. Jonathan was the only bassist in the class, and he was soon learning jazz theory and playing jazz walking bass lines, "At first, I never really studied how to play lines, I just used my ear and began doing it. I think this is the true way to learn how to play. Just do it!" The ensemble played through ten Duke Ellington tunes throughout the first half of the semester. In the second half of the semester the ensemble went and played "gigs" in various locales such as nursing homes and churches for community service. Since then, Jonathan has played in hundreds of places, ranging from the street corner and small restaurants up to opening major jazz festivals. Jonathan now plays at many of the great New York City area jazz clubs and venues including performances at Smoke, Cleopatra's Needle, Minton's Jazz Club, Trumpets Jazz Club, Miles Jazz Cafe, Newark Symphony Hall, The Garage, The Shrine Bar and St Nicks Pub. In addition to playing at Nardis Jazz Club in Istanbul, Turkey, Jonah Jonathan recently made his international debut as a leader in Mexico City at Zinco Jazz Club. He has been privileged to study intensively with bassists Ron Carter, John Menegon, Rufus Reid, Avery Sharpe, John Benitez, Dave Santoro, Mario Pavone, Pete Toigo, Mike Whicks, Marcus McLaurine, and Steve LaSpina. As an in demand bassist on the scene, Jonathan has played in master classes or performed with/for such greats such as David Sanchez, Paul Myers, Joe Finn, Cecil Bridge-water, Clark Terry, Marcus Roberts, Mulgrew Miller, Peter Madson, Gary Symulyn, Wynton Marsalis, Harold Mabern, Gene Bertoncini, Wycliff Gordon, Rich Derosa, David Demsey, Calvin Quince, Freddie Bryant, Joe Lovano, Don Braden and Andy Jaffe. In January 2011 Jonathan has just finished his Bachelors of Music in Jazz Studies and Performance from William Paterson University. He recently has been working on a youtube video video interview series called The Jazz Musician's Voice. The concept entails conducting video interviews with Jazz Musicians in New York City discussing various topics such as the current state of affairs in Jazz, the artists background, and relevant advice for any musicians who might be watching. The series is a single man production and Jonah Jonathan shoots, edits, and produces all the videos himself. Currently he has interviewed 18 musicians including Ron Carter, Mulgrew Miller, Harold Mabern, Larry Ridley, Bill Lee, Phil Schaap, David Binney, and Ari Hoenig.