Saskatchewan born, New York-based jazz pianist Jon Ballantyne started playing piano at a very early age, and began formal study at the age of six. His father is also a pianist and both parents’ jazz enthusiasts; therefore Jon was hearing the recordings of greats such as Lenny Breau, Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Duke Ellington from the beginning of his life.
After the early years of absorbing his father's blues-based approach to piano, classical piano studies, and a stint in a garage rock band as a young teenager, Jon realized his passion and decided to more thoroughly investigate the art form of jazz. This quest led to his winning of a scholarship to attend first Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, followed by classes at the University of Saskatchewan, and finally another scholarship to attend North Texas State University. As an honours student at NTSU, Jon was asked to and did play with in small group formats with visiting artists such as Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Michael Brecker, Joe Henderson, Emily Remler and Nat Adderley. Jon hit it off particularly well with Joe Henderson and would, just three years later, reunite with Henderson to record in Montreal (with the rhythm section made up of fellow Canadians Jerry Fuller and Neil Swainson) what has become a Canadian jazz classic-“Sky Dance” (Justin Time) which won a Juno award in 1990.
In the mid-eighties, Jon attended jazz workshops at the Banff Center of the Arts in Alberta, Canada; studying and playing with Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Phil Nimmons, Dave Holland, Dave Liebman, Ed Blackwell, Lee Konitz, Cecil Taylor, John Abercrombie, Karl Berger, and Steve Coleman. Fellow students in Banff included Mike Murley, Perry White, Hugh Fraser and Michael Blake, to name a few. At this time, he also studied in NYC with Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Hal Galper and JoAnn Brackeen.