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Jon Ballantyne started playing piano at a very early age and began formal study at the age of six. His father Fred is also a pianist and both parents jazz enthusiasts, therefore Jon was hearing the recordings of greats such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and Duke Ellington from the beginning of his life. He has spoken of vividly remembering an Oscar Peterson concert his mother took him to at the age of five.
After the early years of trying to understand his father's blues-based approach to piano, classical piano studies, and a stint in a garage rock band as a young teenager, Jon decided to more thoroughly investigate the art form of jazz. This quest led to his winning of a scholarship to attend North Texas State University. As an honors student there, Ballantyne was asked to play in small group formats with visiting artists Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, Nat Adderley, Michael Brecker, Emily Remler, Bob Mintzer and Peter Erskine.
At the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, Jon studied and played with Dave Holland, Dave Liebman, Ed Blackwell, Lee Konitz, Cecil Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, John Abercrombie, Don Thompson, Julian Priester, Karl Berger, Eddie Marshall and Steve Coleman. He also studied in New York with Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Richie Beirach, 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 Joe Henderson, Roy Haynes, Dewey Redman, Pepper Adams, Billy Hart, Paul Bley, Gene Jackson, Phil Woods, Gene Perla, Adam Niewood, Ben Street, Devin Grey, Mick Goodrick, Bill Goodwin, Scott Colley, Reid Anderson, Avashai Cohen, Craig Handy, Don Braden, George Garzone, Drew Gress, Doug Weiss, Krister Andersson, Joe LaBarbara, Charles Fambrough, Rich Perry, Phil Dwyer, Benny Wallace, Ray Drummond, Ben Perowsky, Terry Clarke, The Mingus Big Band, Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, Clark Terry, Al Cohn, Red Mitchell, Jimmy Guiffre, Al Grey, Shorty Rodgers, Buddy DeFranco, Joe Lovano, Jim Rotundi, P.J. Perry, Don Thompson, Jerry Fuller, Neil Swainson, Ed Bickert, Yannick Rieu, Mike Allen and Richard Stoltzman. Traveling often, Jon has performed in eight European countries (including the UK), Japan, Korea, most provinces in Canada, and more than 40 states in the U.S.A.
As a six-year resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn in the 1990s, Jon also played countless afternoon jam sessions (he cites this as a creatively fertile time-"the musicians were really intent on experimentation") in his studio apartment with young musicians, most of them neighbors, such as Mark Turner, Seamus Blake, Donny McAslin, Bill Carrothers, Hugh Sicotte, John McKenna, Dave Pietro, Tony Scherr, Johannes Weidenmueller, Marc Miralta, Matt Wilson, Owen Howard, Jay Rosen and Phil Haynes.
Jon has also conducted educational clinics at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and at various universities such as the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, McGill University, University of Toronto and Concordia University, Montreal.
Jon has recorded Nine Jazz albums/CDs and has received 2 Juno Awards (a Canadian Music Award) for the album Sky Dance, featuring the legendary saxophone player Joe Henderson and also for the solo piano album Avenue Standard.
Jon and fellow Canadian musician Hugh Sicotte released an experimental album (delving into Hugh's real-time laptop-programs manipulations of Jon's playing of acoustic, electric and prepared piano) in 2012 called Twenty Accident Free Workdays which was nominated for a 2013 Juno Award.
- 1987: Trio Jon Ballantyne (jazzimage) Juno Award Nomination
- 1988: Sky Dance, featuring Joe Henderson (Justin Time Records) Juno Award Winner
- 1994: The Loose with Billy Hart and Drew Gress (Justin Time)
- 1995: Solo Unreleased
- 1996: Trio Live with Billy Hart and Drew Gress (NYJAM)
- 1998: Known/Unknown with Drew Gress and Gene Jackson (NYJAM)
- 2000: Round Again (NYJAM)
- 2002: Centered Trio in Banff with Boris Kozlov and Hugh Sicotte (Real Artist Works) Unreleased
- 2005: 4tets + Dewey Redman (Real Artist Works) cdbaby.com
- 2006: Avenue Standard Solo Piano (Real Artist works) Juno Award Winner cdbaby.com
- 2006: Ever Since Now Solo Piano (Real Artist Works) cdbaby.com
- 2009: Duo WIth Devin Grey (Real Artist Works) Unreleased
- 2010: New Trio Live at the Rochester Jazz Festival, Unreleased
- 2012: Twent Accident Free Workdays (Real Artist Works) Juno Award Nomination cdbaby.com
- In the Key of Eh! Canadian Jazz Piano (1996)
- DUOS: the jazz sessions (1999)
- SOLOS: The Jazz Sessions (Bravo! Canada 2006)