From New York to China, saxophonist Jonathan Parker has brought a dynamic musicianship to appreciative audiences. As a sideman, bandleader, and teacher, Parker has synthesized a varied musical and educational background as he makes his mark on the contemporary jazz scene.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Jonathan is an active performer and committed music educator. When not teaching middle school music, he can be found playing around the city with his own ensembles, performing across the country as a sideman and arranging music for various rock and pop ensembles.
Jonathan’s most recent album The Remainder features his Washington D.C.-based quintet working through a set of his originals. Released in early 2021, the album received praise from several publications. Bebop Spoken Here wrote “The Remainder features a tight group of musicians working out on Parker’s originals. Vibes, guitar, bass and drums solo fluently often intertwining with each other and, of course, the leader’s alto sax. He’s fiery and yet cool with it. The bite is there but he doesn’t allow it to distort the tonal qualities of the instrument unleashing breathtaking wizardry.” And CapitalBop writes Parker “uses his contemporary, ambitious, but ultimately lovable music to win over new jazz audiences. Parker’s a highly trained, deeply skilled musician with a strong sense of respect to the jazz.”
In 2015 Jonathan released his second album Interloper, featuring all-original works arranged for jazz octet. Released on the small NYC-based One Trick Dog label, the album received airplay throughout the country and warm reviews from critics. Dan Bilawsky of All About Jazz said “It’s an exciting octet date that’s chock-full of tight ensemble work and compelling solo statements. Parker utilizes all of the tone colors and rhythmic tools at his disposal here, alternately creating swinging unison statements, punchy background figures, measured support, and gorgeous chorale-like passages. Interloper is an album that shows the full depth and breadth of his talent(s), both as player and writer.” And Michael West of the Washington City Paper wrote “Parker’s debut album Interloper is, first and foremost, a showcase for the leader’s writing in both arrangements and compositions. Lucky for us, that writing happens to be superb.”
In addition to leading his own ensembles, Jonathan is an active sideman with several other groups. Most notably, the Atlanta-based Theodicy Jazz Collective, which regularly performs throughout the country, and the Washington, D.C. calypso juggernaut the Harry Bells.
Jonathan also collaborates with several rock bands, lending his arranging chops and horn orchestrations to multiple studio albums. His most recent arrangement work can be heard on Gainesville, Florida-based Hedges’ debut album, Mixed Signals and Washington, D.C.-based ensemble The North Country’s record In Defense of Cosmic Altruism.
Distinctions and Awards:
- ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award Recipient – 2012
- Betty Carter Jazz Ahead – Class of 2010