Jonathan Best

Jonathan Best


looping found objects, body parts and vocal harmonies; playing barrelhouse blues, free jazz, funk and salsa, involving the audience, making people dance, shaking head wildly while in a trance


Jonathan Best 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”. Thoroughly ensconced in the Downtown experimental music scene 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 is currently performing solo in an act where he brings all of his various musical talents to the stage and does not just perform, but creates music with the audience. With the aid of a looper, he records and layers, live on stage, rhythmic sounds made with such instruments as bicycle forks, a transistor radio, tooth brushes, hedge clippers and his cheeks. He then brings the audience and even the hall itself into the mix, adding seven part contrapuntal vocal harmonies and his inimitable keyboard playing, covering every style from barrelhouse blues to salsa.

"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,

“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


It Will Not Be Electric

Written By: Jonathan Best

It will not be electric
It will use very large balloons
You will at birth select it
We’ll grow them in the womb

It will not be electric
But it will radiate
And be the first non-human elected
And then you will forget

It will not be electric
It will use tiny metal balls
It will make everybody rich
And always makin’ love

Julia Roberts got one
And so does Sara Lee
You won’t even taste it in your food
We’ll send it out in space

It will not be electric
But underneath your skin
We’ll personalize your body
And eat whatever food you like

It will not be electric
It will use you like you used me
Your body will not reject it
And then you will forget


Blood On the Ivories, The Invisible Man, Hell and Earth, Songs From Before I Got Laid, Inside the MAD Linguist

Set List

Some of the original songs:
In Your Pan
Let it trickle On Down
Last pair of Wings
A Simple Guy
It Will Not Be Electric
Can’t Happen Here
Walkin in the Middle of It
Who’ll Do The Bus Stop Laugh
I’m an Old man
Shake the World
Livin’on the Papaya
Jigabe Argabo
A Man Loving A Man
The Fog
From the Big Bang
Free Like Jumbo

Some of the covers:
Everybody Loves My Baby
Shake That Thing
Ballad of a Thin man
I’m a Woman
That’s Life
When I Saw Her Standing There
Like a Rolling Stone
Mother Earth
I’m A Believer
Great Balls of Fire
Hallelujah I love Her so
Big Boss Man
Dear Landlord
You Can’t Judge A Book
Within You and Without You
Time has Come Today