Meet Jonathan Mele: Jonathan Mele is a New York City-based drummer/percussionist.
Since moving to New York City in 1996, Jon has performed with many well-known artists including Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Sheila Jordan, Ronan Guilfoyle, Hugh Buckley and Richie Buckley. He played drums on the Van Morrison 2005 Universal/Exile records release Magic Time.
In addition, Jonathan has been writing for and performing with Nicholas Leichter Dance, while also working with other dance companies, including: NYU, Long Island University, Paul Taylor Dance, and Mark Morris.
He plays drums with U.S. based creative improvisers Equilateral, and an internationally-based organ trio, the Jazz Organism, which includes Australian guitarist Jeremy Sawkins and Irish organist Justin Carroll. Jon also performs with the Jeff Holmes Big Band and the New England Jazz Ensemble - groups that play music written by its members as well as music from the jazz ensemble/big band repertoire.
Jon has performed around the world on stage, TV, radio, and in recording studios, including: The Guinness Jazz Festival, Bray Jazz Festival, NYC's River to River festival, Summerstage, RTE (Ireland), Iowa City Jazz Festival, The Windmill Lane Studios, etc. He's also presented numerous clinics in the US and Europe.
Jon owns Tunnel Street Studio, where he writes, records drum and percussion tracks for singers, songwriters, producers, and other musicians, utilizing computers and the collaborative possibilities of the internet.
Jonathan is a Yamaha performing artist and endorses Sabian Cymbals, Evans drumheads, Vic Firth Drumsticks, and Grover Pro Percussion.
Instrument(s): Drums, Percussion.
Teachers and/or influences? Max Roach, Peter Erskine, Jack DeJohnette, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I got my first real drum way back in sixth grade.
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.