Johnathan Blake, one of the most accomplished drummers of his generation, has also proven himself a complete and endlessly versatile musician — “the ultimate modernist,” as John Murph of NPR has dubbed him.
Through years-long memberships in the Tom Harrell Quintet, the Kenny Barron Trio, and other top ensembles, Blake has reaped the benefits of prolonged exposure to the greats of our time. Through his powerful, evocative drumming, he’s left a huge imprint on the music of such rising figures in jazz as Hans Glawischnig, Alex Sipiagin, Donny McCaslin, Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, Patrick Cornelius, Michael Janisch, Shauli Einav, and Jaleel Shaw. To date, Blake has appeared on over 50 albums.
Blake attended the jazz program at William Paterson University, where he studied with Rufus Reid, John Riley, Steve Wilson, and Horace Arnold. At this time Blake also began working professionally with the Oliver Lake Big Band, Roy Hargrove, and David Sanchez. In 2006 he was recognized with an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award, and in 2007 he earned his Masters from Rutgers University, focusing on composition. He studied with the likes of Ralph Bowen, Conrad Herwig and Stanley Cowell.
Blake’s playing helped the Mingus Big Band land Grammy nominations for the albums Tonight at Noon (2002) and I Am Three (2005). It has also earned Blake spots in groups led by Russell Malone, Randy Brecker, Joe Locke, Ronnie Cuber, and other seasoned jazz veterans.