This week on April 20, it's our honor to celebrate the birthday of Joe Bonner on Jazz Appreciation Month! Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Joe studied at Virginia State College, however, he indicated that he learned more from musicians he worked with.
Joe Bonner was a brilliant jazz pianist who collaborated with some of the genre's legends and developed a worldwide reputation for his moving style. He passed away in his sleep on November 20 from heart disease. Bonner moved to Colorado in 1976, when he was 28 years old. By then, he'd been playing professionally for a decade; his résumé included performances alongside Freddie Hubbard and Roy Haynes's Hip Ensemble and a three-year stint touring and recording with legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. He quickly established himself in Denver, playing weekly stints at the Mercury Cafe and a run of sets at the Bay Wolf between European tours.