Born: April 20, 1948 Primary Instrument: Piano
Pianist Joe Bonner has been amongst the most enigmatic personages on the Denver jazz scene for decades, yet his talent is hardly a mystery. Fortunately for jazz pianist Joe Bonner, enough people have heard. People like legendary drummer Roy Haynes, who hired Bonner to replace Chick Corea in his band at Count Basie's Club in Harlem. Another was trumpeting great Freddie Hubbard, who Bonner performed with in the early 1970s, and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, another jazz giant who recognized Bonner's talent and hired him. The challenge has always been getting others to hear.
Bonner has a unique jazz story. Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in April of 1948, he eventually earned a Bachelor's Degree in Classical Music from Virginia State and still listens to the classics all day long.. His travels took him to Denmark, where he joined or accompanied traveling jazz artists. Bonner has appeared on a long list of recordings as a bandleader or sideman, with titles released on Evidence, Muse, Capri, and ABC/Impulse! He has over a dozen sides out on the Steeplechase label recorded during his twelve year stint in Europe, especially Copenhagen.
Bonner has been residing in the Denver area for over twenty years now and has become quite the local piano fixture in the jazz scene there. Since the turn of the new century Bonner has put out more fine records as his “Monkisms,” (2000) and the highly acclaimed “The Art of Jazz Piano.” (2003) these display his amazing knowledge of jazz piano structure.
Colorado audiences have been lucky to enjoy Bonner's virtuoso sensibility, most recently through his leadership of The Bonner Party, a confluence of four masters of improvisation, communing through an invisible, yet lucid joining, conceiving passionate solos, grooving counter bass lines, soulful harmonies and driving rhythms. Orchestrating a celebration of rich modern jazz textures, rooted in bebop, gospel and blues. Spirited improvised journeys travel paths where the vehicle is groove, exploring harmonic detours seldom experienced. Once the Party gets started, this quartet often achieves moments and spaces moving the listener in expanded directions, in turn, exhilarating the audience. This band turns the party out. Their latest release is “Lights Out,” which came out in 2004 on Akashic Records.
Source: James Nadal