One of the most accomplished drummers of his generation, Johnathan Blake has had years of live and studio experience across the aesthetic spectrum. Heralded by NPR as “the ultimate modernist,” he has collaborated with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Tom Harrell, Hans Glawischnig, Avishai Cohen, Donny McCaslin, Linda May Han Oh, Jaleel Shaw, Chris Potter, Maria Schneider, Alex Sipiagin, Kris Davis, and many others. For nearly 15 years, Blake has been a member the Kenny Barron Trio.
Born in Philadelphia in 1976, Blake is the son of renowned jazz violinist John Blake, Jr. After beginning on drums at age 10, Blake gained his first performing experience with the Lovett Hines Youth Ensemble. Later he worked with saxophonist Robert Landham in a youth jazz ensemble at the Settlement Music School. He graduated from George Washington High School and went on to attend the highly respected jazz program at William Paterson University, where he studied with Rufus Reid, John Riley, Steve Wilson, and Horace Arnold, and began working professionally with the Oliver Lake Big Band, Roy Hargrove, and David Sanchez. In 2006, Blake was recognized with an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award and in 2007 he earned his master’s from Rutgers University in composition.
Blake has contributed to multiple leader releases from Blue Note artists including Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Breathe (2021), All in My Mind (2018), and Evolution (2016) in addition to Kenny Barron’s Concentric Circles (2018). His debut release on Blue Note Records Homeward Bound (2021) features Blake’s band Pentad, a quintet of musicians comprised of the core trio: longtime collaborator and friend Dezron Douglas and Cuban-born keyboardist David Virelles on piano, Rhodes, and Minimoog. Immanuel Wilkins and Joel Ross complete the multigenerational quintet on alto saxophone and vibraphone.