Jonathan Best

Jonathan Best

 Prescott, Arizona, USA
BandPop

Bob Dylan meets Miles Davis but they don't get along so well until John Cage shows up with his friends Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Einstein, and Pablo Picasso. Bob says, "Hey you wanna jam on some funky latin, with a boogie woogie, reggae kind of groove?" Add in an audience and you have Jonathan Best

Biography

Jonathan needs an audience to bounce off of and go to unexpected places. He might decide to see what’s on his transistor radio and loop it. And if the audience is with him he might overdub himself brushing his teeth then play one of his heartfelt poetic ballads to the new funky beat. He might take the mic to the audience and add them to the loop. But then again he might decide to just play the piano by itself and take everyone into a meditative state and then entice people to create three part harmonies. You just never know and he doesn’t know either.

Jonathan has been playing music around the world for over 20 years. He was taught the finer points of gospel music early in his career as he toured the Pentecostal churches of New York City and the south with The Elect Lady Evangelist Shirley Davis. His blues and R&B leanings also landed him gigs with bands such as The Drifters, South African singer Cosbie Mbele, the B-52s and Defunct. His odd sense of humor brought him together with the notorious Peter Stampfel (Holy Modal Rounders) for a number of albums and tours, culminating in the thankless job of producing and recording Stampfel’s last album with the Bottlecaps “The Jig is Up”. He also performed and recorded with various Latin bands, a synthesis which brought him together with David Byrne (Talking Heads) for a seven month world tour and a feature film.

Jonathan has also done a lot of composing and arranging for albums and movies in his own recording studio. He composed, arranged and co-wrote the lyrics for Clarence Carter’s ‘I Got A Thing For You’ included on Carter’s “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” album and his “Greatest Hits” album, both of which remained on the Billboard R&B charts for several weeks.

Jonathan’s latest CD “Osingolio!” was recorded in Kenya. It is the music of the Maasai village of Ngong’u Narok. All proceeds from the sale of the CD go to the village and to the Maasai Media Center, also located in Maasailand which Jonathan helped to create.

“Best's music defies genres but is something like "avant-garde boogie-woogie," both self-revealing and socially conscious, equally silly and serious, and unlike anything else one is likely to see around these parts. His emphasis on sampling, found items, audience involvement, and intimate settings creates a quasi-mystical experience, while his sheer honesty and genuine humility generate a sense of recognition and kinship. In short, Jonathan Best is a musical innovator who deploys his talents in a spirit of
community and celebration, not for fame and commercialism as is often the case these days.”
-Randall Amster, producer of the TV series 'The Artist Mind'

"Imagine the intensity of Jerry Lee Lewis's piano playing
with the deliberate onstage deliberations of Badly Drawn Boy
and the avant-garde experiments of (insert favorite
found-sound avant-garde artist here…) and you've got an idea just how quirky and fascinating his performances are."
-Tony Fletcher, iJamming.com

“Any attempt to describe the music of Jonathan Best is bound to fall short. Equal parts Gospel tenor, boogie-woogie piano, and avant-garde sound collage, his music spans cultures and idioms with ease. It also makes startling use of sampled “loop” technology – and it’s this element, perhaps more than any other, that has helped to establish Best as a local musician with a “must-see” live show.”
-Susan DeFreitas, Zene Magazine

Lyrics

Cheerios

Written By: Jonathan Best

I was sittin’ by the telephone
I could tell it could see me crying
Took my love to Sheridon Square
But the women they weren’t buying
Came back home to my telephone
Called every number that I owned
Gave them every yes I had
All they gave me back was nos
So I had to get out my box of Cheerios
I had to pour me a bowl of Cheerios

How many dreams must I wake up from
Before I know I’m just a dreamer
How many times must she lie to me
‘Till I can just say what the heck and believe her
Took the train to the moon last night
Spread on the mustard and had a bite
It didn’t fill me up to well
Why it didn’t only heaven knows
But I had to get out my box of Cheerios
I had to pour me a bowl of Cheerios

Cheerios, Cheerios
I had a couple of bowls of those
It was so good that I had some more
I had so much some went on the floor
I started fearing that I had to much when my mouth just wouldn’t close
But I had to get out another box of Cheerios
I had to pour me a bowl of Cheerios
I put the milk on the bowl of Cheerios
I dropped my face into the bowl of Cheerios

A Man Loving a Man

Written By: Jonathan Best

Why am I so scared
Why am I so blue
Why is it so hard to be close to you
Let me turn away
Let me walk home slow
There’s too much on my mind
So just let me go

But when I get home and turn on the TV
That box expects me to be what it wants me to be
I’m finding it hard to understand
What it means to be a man

I have a place inside
Where no man ever goes
Even my own heart it doesn’t know
It is so well hid
So I can’t get hurt
But now I think that I’m under orange alert

When I was just a boy my very best friend
Touched me like I never wanted it to end
But my friends laughed and they shamed me
Then I grew up to be a man

I wanted every woman I could see
I tried so hard to be what a man is supposed to be
I found it hard to understand
A man loving a man

Why am I so scared
Why am I so blue
Why is it so hard to be close to you
Let me turn away
Let me walk home slow
Right back to that place
No man ever goes

But maybe if I could just set myself free
And be the man that only I want to be
Then maybe I could understand
A man loving a man

Maybe if I could just love myself head to knee
And keep loving myself unconditionally
Then maybe I could understand
A man loving a man
Maybe even I could understand
A man loving a man

Shake the World

Written By: Jonathan Best, Mary Poole

Call your Mama when you need love
Call your daddy when the money is gone
Call your doctor when you don’t feel good
Call me baby, when you wanna shake the world

I say shake the world
Wo, wo wo
Do ya do ya wanna shake the world

Call your sister when you’re all alone
Call your boyfriend when you wanna talk all night long
Call your girlfriend when you wanna pitch and woo
Call me baby when you wanna shake the world

I say shake the world
Wo, wo wo
Do ya do ya wanna shake the world

Are you scared of doin’ time?
Let’s shake it up
The world outside your mind

Call on Dr. Freud
When you wanna figure me out
Call on my man Jesus
When you begin to doubt
Call on Ben & Jerry when you wanna cuddle up
Call me baby when you wanna shake the world

I say shake the world
Wo, wo wo
Do ya do ya wanna shake the world

Discography

Blood on the Ivories, The Invisible Man, Shake the World, Jonathan's Best, Songs From Before I Got Laid, Inside the MAD linguist, Live in Skyview, Osingolio

Set List

Jonathan’s sets consist of mostly original songs with a few covers included although the covers are always performed as if he wrote them himself. Some of the familiar songs you might hear are the Monkees’ I’m a Believer done with a gospel feel, Irving Berlin’s God Bless America but changed to God Bless the Entire World, done boogie-woogie, Madonna’s Like a Virgin with a funky swing feel and the Beatles’ Within You and Without You done, well, like Jonathan.

The sets can be anything from a half hour tightly packed high energy looping tour de’ force to three 45 minute sets with 15 minute breaks to one long 2 hour set. With hundreds of original and cover songs to choose from Jonathan can fit into any scenario.