“I have seen/heard tons of music… all kinds… Jonathan Best is truly Extraordinary All the Way… And I know WTF I am talking about!!!!”
–Liz Story: 3 time Grammy nominee Windham Hill recording artist/pianist/composer extraordinaire
“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 nine of his own CDs on the market some of which can be found on Spotify but all of them at jonathanbest.bandcamp.com
From 2006 to 2013 he took many tours up the west coast pulling his mobile stage trailer and spreading as many musical seeds as he could.
In 2007 he enrolled in a four-year Musician Leadership program at Music for People while at the same time making trips to Kenya to work with the Maasai people creating a media center and co-creating documentaries by and for the Maasai communities. What he learned from the Maasai people is that when music is interwoven into the very fabric of a community, the community is able to withstand debilitating drought and oppression. He learned the same thing from traumatized communities in the US.
These experiences inspired him to start a non-profit called comMUSIKey which runs workshops and gives lessons in developing community-centered music. This, in turn, led to the BuildTheBridges.rocks project which entailed bringing music and musical instruments to the US/Mexico border and to shelters and to churches housing asylum seekers and to translate the Build the Bridges song into six and counting languages.
He is forever looking for ways to use music to build bridges and take down walls between people and ideas. Even walls within his own self. He wants to understand if there is a line between being a selfish narcissist and being an artist. He figures the only way to find out is to go hog wild on being an artist while encouraging everyone to join him, thereby confusing the algorithms.