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Jon Ballantyne

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.

This period of intensive study naturally led to a performance career, and Jon often shared (and shares) the stage or recording studio with some of the world's finest musicians, including, as mentioned previously, Joe Henderson, as well as Roy Haynes, Paul Bley, Dewey Redman, Don Thompson, Dave Liebman, Billy Hart, Gene Jackson, Ben Street, Mick Goodrick, Scott Colley, Reid Anderson, Craig Handy, George Garzone, Ed Bickert, Phil Dwyer, Yannick Rieu, Pepper Adams , Kevin Dean, Mike Allen, Terry Clarke, P.J. Perry, Andre White, Drew Gress, Charles Fambrough, Rich Perry, Benny Wallace, Ray Drummond, Ben Perowsky, The Mingus Big Band, Woody Herman's Thundering Herd, Clark Terry, Al Cohn, Red Mitchell, Jimmy Guiffre, Shorty Rodgers, Buddy DeFranco and Joe Lovano. Traveling often, Jon has performed in eight European countries, the UK, Japan, most provinces and major jazz festivals in Canada, and more than 40 states in the USA.

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Album Review

The Saskatchewan All Star Big Band: Saskatchewan Suite

Read "Saskatchewan Suite" reviewed by Jack Bowers

On Saskatchewan Suite, composer/arranger Fred Stride and the twenty-member Saskatchewan All Star Big Band have combined to paint a luminous and colorful portrait of that western Canadian province, canvassing 150 years of its history in eight picturesque movements that describe in musical terms the land itself, its indigenous peoples, newcomers from Europe and elsewhere, its recognition in 1905 as a province, the importance of various sports to Saskatchewan's inhabitants, and the legacy of jazz as an essential part of its ...

Album Review

Jon Ballantyne: Known/Unknown

Read "Known/Unknown" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Jon Ballantyne is thick. You hear great rumbles of piano, fingers darting to hit distant notes, somehow laid-back and intense at the same time. It’s an edgy sound, similar to some but copying none. It’s hard to describe, but the album title does it as well as anything.

“No Blues” is the title, but Jon’s version barely mentions the theme. His fingers walk up the keyboard, waves of sound march in patterns, and a two-finger twiddle is enhanced by slamming ...

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Performance / Tour

Jon Ballantyne 4tet Summer '05 Tour

Jon Ballantyne 4tet Summer '05 Tour

Source: All About Jazz

PRESS RELEASE Award-winning jazz pianist/composer Jon Ballantyne (jonballantyne.com) will take his New York-based quartet on tour of the Canadian jazz festival circuit beginning Wednesday June 22, 2005 at the Calgary Jazz Festival. The quartet includes: Douglas Yates on alto sax/bass clarinet (Dave Douglas, Kenny Wheeler); Jeff Hirshfield on drums (Joe Lovano, John Zorn); and Boris Kozlov on bass (Mingus Big Band, Jeff Watts). Ballantyne has played and/or recorded with many of the finest musicians in jazz, including Joe Henderson, Billy ...


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Saskatchewan Suite

Chronograph Records


Avenue Standard

Self Produced



N. Y. Jam


A Musing






September 1905

From: Saskatchewan Suite
By Jon Ballantyne


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