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Joe Bonner

Pianist Joe Bonner was arguably the most enigmatic character on the Denver jazz scene for decades, yet his talent was hardly a mystery. Fortunately for jazz pianist Joe Bonner, enough people heard him play. 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 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 resided in the Denver area for over twenty years and became quite the local piano fixture in the jazz scene there. In the turn of the new century Bonner 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.

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November 23, 2014

Pianist Joe Bonner Passes



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