One of the most important jazz musicians in Detroit, Bess Bonnier is one of the Detroit jazz artists who chose to stay at home. Some of her contemporary jazz friends - Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Thad Jones and Sir Roland Hanna - left Detroit and found success in the wider world of jazz.
Miss Bonnier has found her own success in the Motor City with a wide array of activities that has made her name synonymous with fine jazz piano. Detroit-born, Miss Bonnier (pronounced BONN-yer) came of age in the same 1950's Detroit that produced a veritable Who's Who of Jazz, including Harris, Flanagan, the Jones brothers, Sir Roland Hanna, and so many others. After graduating from Northern High School with Tommy Flanagan, she studied Music and English at Wayne State University before striking off on her own as a pianist. She first gained a measure of national attention in the late 1950's when Argo Records released her album entitled Theme for the Tall One. That record, long out of print, has become a collector's item. n the 1960's, Miss Bonnier was the house pianist in the Jack Brokensha quartet in the latter's Detroit nightclub. During the 1970's she served as artist-in-residence at Detroit's prestigious Cass Technical High School and her video Jazz History course, created for Wayne State University's Adult Education Program, has been used over and over again since it was originally recorded.