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Joe Bonner


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Joe Bonner (born 1948) is a jazz pianist who currently leads The Bonner Party, a jazz quartet. Born in Harlem, he grew up in Rocky Mount, NC, where he played sousaphone in his high school band and studied piano privately. In high school, he attended the famed Summer Music Institutes at Virginia State College, organized by Dr. F. Nathaniel Gatlin, the college’s music department chair, an Oberlin graduate and a nationally known clarinetist. After high school, he enrolled in Virginia State, concentrating on piano performance, theory and composition, and developed as a jazz pianist.

Journeying to New York after graduation, he played with fellow alum, saxophonist Harold Vick, and joined Pharoah Sanders’ band at the height of its popularity, appearing on Sanders’ album, Black Unity. He also recorded solo albums in Europe on Steeplechase (Denmark). He sees music as a story and feels the accomplished musician must always have “something to say.” His compositions and performances use modal scales, with dyamic range, shifting and contrasting bright harmonies, and melodic figures that transform and return throughout the performance. He loves the high end of the piano, adding its pluck to his brilliant improvisations.


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  • beezer_b

    Oh my god oh my god oh my god. "The Lifesaver" where have you been all my life? Must get rest of albums ASAP. Loved him on Pharoah albums for years and only just got his first solo...

    6 May 2009 Reply
  • Theeboon

    Awesome, severely under appreciated pianist...

    11 Feb 2008 Reply

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