“Jonathan Best is one of the worlds virtuoso pianists, singers, song creators, and blues artists. He also is a great free music player in almost any form from jazz to contemporary music. It has been my pleasure to hear him play and also witness his inspirational teaching. Perhaps most importantly is that he is a humanitarian of the highest order.”
-David Darling: Grammy winning music innovator and educator.
“At a time when music, film and the arts in general are more and more computer generated, which manifests less and less of our soul, Jonathan Best reminds us that there is a better way. His music is nothing if not real, visceral and absolutely transformative.”Angel Fernandez: Producer, Composer, Arranger and Instrumentalist (David Byrne, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Talking Heads),
“Had a crowd of 100 mesmerized” – Bob Weinstein, New York Newsday.
“Beats the sounds of Mozart” – F. Stoneback, EAR New Music Magazine.
“Tastierista bravissimo” – di Giacomo Pellicciotti, la Repubblica, Milano, Italy.
“Takes some getting used to” – Eric Shepard, Rockland Journal News.
“Effective and highly engaging” – Robert Carlberg, Electronic Musician Magazine
“Psychedelic Funk Freak”
Michael Herndon, Village Voice.
Jonathan Best was the best live accompanist of a silent movie I have ever had the pleasure to see live
-Andrew Johnson-Schmit – Prescott Arts Beat
“Best’s music defies genres but is something like “avant-garde boogie-woogie,” both self-revealing and socially conscious, equally silly and serious, and unlike anything else one is likely to see around these parts. His emphasis on sampling, found items, audience involvement, and intimate settings creates a quasi-mystical experience, while his sheer honesty and genuine humility generate a sense of recognition and kinship. In short, Jonathan Best is a musical innovator who deploys his talents in a spirit of community and celebration, not for fame and commercialism as is often the case these days.”
-Randall Amster, producer of the TV series ‘The Artist Mind’
“Imagine the intensity of Jerry Lee Lewis’s piano playing with the deliberate onstage deliberations of Badly Drawn Boy and the avant-garde experiments of (insert favorite found-sound avant-garde artist here…) and you’ve got an idea just how quirky and fascinating his performances are.”
-Tony Fletcher, iJamming.com
“Any attempt to describe the music of Jonathan Best is bound to fall short. Equal parts Gospel tenor, boogie-woogie piano, and avant-garde sound collage, his music spans cultures and idioms with ease. It also makes startling use of sampled “loop” technology – and it’s this element, perhaps more than any other, that has helped to establish Best as a local musician with a “must-see” live show.”
-Susan DeFreitas, Zene Magazine
Jonathan has been playing music for most of his life on street corners and on stages around the world. He was taught the finer points of gospel music early in his career as he toured the Pentecostal churches of New York City and the south with The Elect Lady Evangelist Shirley Davis. His blues and R&B leanings also landed him gigs with bands such as The Drifters, The Coasters and South African singer Cosbie Mbele. His odd sense of humor brought him together with the notorious Peter Stampfel (Holy Modal Rounders) for a number of albums and tours, culminating in the job of producing and recording Stampfel’s last album with the Bottlecaps “The Jig is Up”. Performing with various Latin bands brought him together with David Byrne (Talking Heads Leader) for a seven month world tour and the feature film Between the Teeth.
From the early eighties to 2002, Jonathan operated a recording studio in Manhattan, NY where he composed and arranged for film, and produced and recorded many albums for independent labels.
Jonathan has written over 200 songs since he was a child. One song that he co-wrote called I Got a Thing for You was included on Clarence Carter’s album Between a Rock and a Hard Place and also his Greatest Hits album, both of which remained on the Billboard charts for several weeks.
He currently has eight of his own CDs on the market including his favorite “Osingolio!” which he recorded in Kenya in the Maasai village of Ngong’u Narok. Jonathan spent many months from 2007 to 2010 in Kenya, helping to create a media center and to work on documentaries with Maasai communities.
During the same period that Jonathan was making trips to Kenya, he was enrolled in a four year Musician Leadership Program with the Music for People organization. Working with the Maasai in Kenya, Jonathan got to see first hand how music keeps marginalized communities flourishing and with Music for People, Jonathan learned how to facilitate that same healing back home.
In 2013, Jonathan took a break from touring in order to create comMUSIKey with the Prescott, AZ community. comMUSIKey is 501(C)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to building community by way of people playing music together. ComMUSIKey is predicated on the belief that all human beings are innately and uniquely musical. Music heals people and communities.
In 2016, Jonathan, along with Meg Bohrman, brought musical instruments to a Trump rally. When they heard someone shouting “Build bridges, not walls!” they decided to sing instead, giving birth not just to a song, but to a movement.
The song was translated into Spanish and then Jonathan started taking it down to various shelters in Mexico and around the border where he gave Everybody Music workshops.
Soon the song was translated into Russian and then Jonathan took the song on a cross country tour where it was translated into Arabic and Hebrew.