“And the young trumpeter Jonathan Powell is brilliant. At times listening to Powell makes one think of a young Freddie Hubbard tempered with Lester Bowie’s flair for unpredictable phrasing and melodrama.” Duck Baker, Jazz Times
“Powell’s crackling range and the electricity of his imagination reminded me of the first time I heard Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown. His voice is his own …” Nat Hentoff, Jazz Times
Born in Largo, Florida, Jonathan Powell took up the trumpet at the age of twelve. In high school, he excelled as a featured member of the All-State Band and All-State Jazz Band and progressed under the guidance of Raymond Mase at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he met three like-minded students who were on the same path and formed the group Quantum, which earned the award for Best Student Jazz Group in the Downbeat Student Awards (1998, 1999).
After high-school, Jonathan returned to his hometown to explore the Florida music scene and performed with many groups, including Bogus Pomp (one of the top Frank Zappa repertoire bands), SHIM (avant-garde jazz), Rocksteady @ 8 (Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady) as well as his own groups.
In 2001, he moved to New York and landed a gig with the Colombian Band, La Creacion. In 2003 he earned praise for his participation in Sam Rivers Fluid Motion and was named, Best Latin Jazz Trumpeter by the The Latin Jazz Corner in 2007.
The same year he formed the group, Nu Sangha, which means "community" in Tibetan and released the highly acclaimed Transcend, a fusion of Rock and Electronica Infused Jazz.
Jonathan’s most recent recording titled, Beacons of Light draws inspiration from jazz icons past and present, including John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, the Brian Blades Fellowship and Pat Metheny among others. The music is a meditation and tribute to spiritual and revolutionary minds of our age, including the Dalai Lama, the Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to name a few.
When he's not leading his group, Jonathan performs with a wide variety of artists, including Eddie Palmieri and his Latin Jazz Septet and Salsa Orchestra, Arturo O' Farrill's Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Miguel Zenon, Gregorio Uribe, Pedro Giraudo, Ricky Martin and JT Taylor of Kool and the Gang.
Jonathan sums up his musical philosophy: “The new album is a tribute to people who have done amazing things. If people dig the music and get hip to people they’ve never heard of I’ll feel like I’ve done my part. As a bandleader, I want to create music that helps people and inspires them to search within themselves.”
Jonathan Powell is a man on a mission, an artist on the rise, a name to watch. Expect great things from him in the years to come.
Bio written by: Tomas Peña
All photos by Ami Omiya unless otherwise noted