Saskatchewan born, Manhattan-based pianist and composer Jon Ballantyne has released 10 albums, won 2 Juno Awards, and has been nominated for 4 Juno Awards, most recently for the collaborative album with fellow Canadian musician Hugh Sicotte entitled Twenty Accident Free Workdays.

Jon is an artist who deftly combines the unknown with the known. Listening to the wondrous sounds he makes at the piano, audiences can never be sure where he will take the music next. There can be a palpable sense that they are hearing a feeling, harmony, melody or rhythm they may be familiar with, and at the same time, they are likely to be figuratively on the edge of their seats, excited, gratified that they are being taken on a musical adventure unlike anything they may have experienced previously.

Jon comes by this strong sense of musical adventure honestly. Having been born with it is the most obvious explanation, but, for example, in performing hundreds of sets with saxophone great Joe Henderson, Jon was never a passive participant. Even when he was ‘laying out’, or ‘strolling’, Jon was observing Henderson (or Roy Haynes, who played with the band on several occasions), with a keen sense and an even quicker ear. The same goes with the great amount of time Jon spent with fellow Canadian pianist Paul Bley. They played, they hung out. They recorded; they played 2 pianos in concert. Very few pianists have played and recorded duo pianos with Paul Bley, aside from Bill Evans ("Jazz in the Space Age"), as Paul pointed out to Jon.

No matter whom Jon has played with, and the list is long, Jon has observed, Jon has listened and learned, all the while honing his own wit and otherworldly musical skills in the company of the masters. This continues unabated today (i.e., recent performances with saxophone greats Dave Liebman, Phil Woods), although there are also now times when Jon is the 'mentor' younger musicians are likely to be paying very close attention to.

Jon Ballantyne’s early interest in studying and playing jazz ultimately led to performances with musicians such as Joe Henderson (Jon was a member of Joe’s quartet from 1989-92), Paul Bley, Dewey Redman, Billy Hart, Roy Haynes, Gene Perla, Pepper Adams, Drew Gress, Seamus Blake, Ingrid Jensen, Phil Dwyer, Alan Jones, George Garzone, Dave Liebman, Donny McAslin, Mark Turner, Matt Wilson, Ray Drummond, Joe LaBarbara, Herbie Lewis, Joe Lovano, Gene Jackson, Boris Kozlov, Yannick Rieu, Kent Sangster, The Mingus Big Band and Ben Perowsky.

In his formative years, Jon played gigs with Pepper Adams, Benny Wallace, PJ Perry, Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd (with guests soloists Clark Terry, Al Cohn, Jimmy Giuffre, Buddy DeFranco, Shorty Rodgers, Red Mitchell, Terry Clarke, Richard Stolzman), Andre White, Jack Sheldon, Neil Swainson and Jerry Fuller among many others.

And before that Jon studied and played with greats like Dave Holland, Lee Konitz, Cecil Taylor, Ed Blackwell, Kenny Wheeler, Ron Carter, Peter Erskine, Don Thompson, Michael Brecker, Elvin Jones, Phil Nimmons, Karl Berger, Steve Coleman, John Abercrombie, Nat Adderley, Bob Mintzer and Emily Remler. He also had several private lessons in New York with Richard Beirach, Barry Harris, Joanne Brackeen, Kenny Barron and Hal Galper.

In the past two and a half decades, Jon has performed critically acclaimed solo piano concerts and with his stellar quartet at venues and major music festivals across Canada, Japan, the USA, The UK, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Holland, France, Germany, Italy and Israel.

In 2012-2013, Jon has again performed in concert with saxophonist David Liebman. He has also recently played with four-time Grammy award winning saxophonist Phil Woods, the stalwart drummer/producer Bill Goodwin, and is a now member of a band led by former Elvin Jones/Sonny Rollins bassist Gene Perla.

Whether he’s performing his original compositions, virtuosic two-handed spontaneous improvisations, or reworking jazz standards in his own innate, organic way, Jon Ballantyne’s openness, originality and inborn creativity always inform his music, much to the delight of his listeners.