Jonathan Kay is a virtuosic multi-woodwind instrumentalist that has created a respected name for himself in the thriving music scenes of Toronto, Canada and Kolkata, India. Being involved in many different circles of performing musicians, Jonathan offers a creative and unique voice in a diverse range of musical situations. Jonathan started studying and performing on the tenor saxophones at the age of 11, and naturally cultured the ability to express himself on many other members of the woodwind family including flute, bansuri (Indian classical flute), dizi (ancient Chinese flute), clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano, alto and baritone saxes.
Throughout Jonathan’s musical life he has been fortunate to learn and perform with some of the world’s greatest western musicians including, Pat LaBarbera, Kenny Garrett, Seamus Blake, Lenny Pickett, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dave Douglas, Ingrid Jensen, Paquito D’Riviera, Phil Woods, Greg Osby, Mark Dresser, Vijay Iyer, Steve Gorn, Phil Dywer, David Mott, Mike Murley and family member Alastair Kay.
Indian Classical Raga Music
In 2006 Jonathan traveled to Kolkata, India in search of understanding the concepts of Indian Classical Raga music. It was at this time that Jonathan was initiated into the traditional Guru-Shishya Parampara training under Guru Pandit Shantanu Bhattacharyya, one of India’s premier Classical vocalists. In 2009, he returned to India understanding of the importance of immersing himself in the tradition and lifestyle of Hindusthani Raga Music. By sincerely devoting himself to intensive riyaz (practice) and focusing on the spiritual nature of Raga music the subtle nuances of each Raga began to express themselves through his western soprano and tenor saxophones, as well bansuri and dilruba. In his pursuit of Nada Brahma and the study of Raga Consciousness, Jonathan is exploring higher ideals of creativity and expression and its purest application to his western musically. His dedicated Sadhana has already helped him emerge as an innovative contributor to the evolution of Raga music performance. It is his rendering of Ragas in their entirety on saxophone, in both the vocal and instrumental styles, that has innovated saxophone techniques and created a style of playing the saxophone hitherto un-attempted. His research and development have produced the first non-tempered saxophone designed to more accurately express the subtle shruti’s (mirco-tones) of the Ragas.
Jonathan’s travels in India he has performed many concerts playing Raga music and Indo-Jazz. He has been blessed to learn from and collaborate with some of India’s greatest maestros including Ajoy Chakrabarty, Rashid Khan, Bickram Ghosh, Tejendra Majumdar, Dhruba Ghosh, Subhankar Banerjee, Nityanand Haldipur, Ronu Majumdar and Ranajit Sengupta.
Jonathan is culturing a deep understanding of Eastern philosophy and music, and aims to unify the fabrics of both Eastern and Western music and culture in a harmonious and innovative expression. His research includes composition and performance in a variety of large and small ensembles with the use of eastern and western instruments.
Alongside brother Andrew Kay and bassist Justin Gray, the trio formed “Monsoon”, a collective of creative musicians bonded by their joint vision of an innovative East-West synthesis. Monsoon has received international acclaim over their 6 years together has featured many wonderful guest artists including their guru, Pandit Shantanu Bhattacharyya, Ingred Jensen, George Koller and Alastair Kay.
Jonathan has also played saxophone and bansuri with some of the world’s best Indo-Fusion artists including world music pioneer Bickram Ghosh’s “Rhythmscape” and “Across Boarders”, Tejendra Majumdar, Subhankar Banerjee and Rashid Khan’s “Nsemble”, Ronu Majumdar Shubhen Chatterjee’s “Karma”, and Ravi Naimpally’s “Tasa”.
Western and Creative Jazz Music
Internationally recognized for his musicianship at age 17, Jonathan has emerged as a creative and innovative artist. His beautiful tone and melodic approach has proven him to be mature and sophisticated musician. Jonathan has had extensive experience traveling and playing many forms of music but focuses on the pursuit of his own creative voice through creative modern jazz and Indo-jazz. He composes music for a variety of ensembles and always strives to push the creativity and artistry of contemporary music while respecting and relating to the traditions of the past masters.
For many years Jonathan and his modern jazz band “The Peddlers” were featured on a weekly basis at clubs all over Toronto. He utilized this opportunity to internalize and expand his jazz vocabulary, maturing him into the exceptional jazz saxophonist and bandleader he is today. Alongside his brother Andrew, Jonathan co-founded “Kayos Theory”, a cordless “Coltrane” inspired quartet that explores more contemporary and worldly approaches to composition and expression.