Jonathan Gee first appeared on the London Jazz Scene when he was awarded ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ at the 1991 Guardian/Wire British Jazz Awards.
He had previously MD’d three Edinburgh Festival shows, written songs for TV, had a past as a rock singer/guitarist, had a famous light music violinist grandfather, Harold C. Gee, and a father Dr Micheal Gee, GP by day, painter and Bartok transcriber by night.
In the early nineties he led a trio featuring Thad Kelly on bass and Pete Fairclough on drums, which toured the UK and released an acclaimed album on cassette, ‘Blah, Blah, Blah Etc Etc‘, as well as a trio featuring bassist Wayne Batchelor and long-term collaborator, drummer Winston Clifford.
At this time he worked constantly in London and around the UK with Bobby Wellins, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Ed Jones (also in Italy, Sweden and Germany), Mornington Lockett, Steve Williamson (including in Israel) Orphy Robinson (including in Greece) Dave Cliff (including in Paris) Claire Martin, Christine Tobin, Bukky Leo, Eddie Parker, Iain Ballamy, Dylan Fowler’s 'Frevo', Wayne Batchelor, Tim Whitehead and many others, recording albums and doing broadcasts with many of them.
From the mid nineties he started to be called to play with visiting New York names, such as Teddy Edwards, Ted Curson, Art Farmer, Mark Murphy (including a memorable tour of Spain), Marlene Shaw, Houston Person and Sonny Fortune.
Two octet tours with David Murray led to an Arts Council-funded big band tour featuring James Spaulding and poet Lemn Sissay, which in turn led to British Council tours of Cameroon and Singapore.
In the late nineties Jonathan was very busy with his trio featuring Steve Rose on bass and Winston Clifford on drums who were called to play with Joe Lovano for a week at Ronnie Scotts, Time Out’s ‘Jazz Gig of The Year’ in 1997. From this they became a fixture at the club, playing the trio support sets or with luminaries such as Benny Golson. They recorded three acclaimed albums, including a live set on the Ronnie Scotts label. They also toured Italy, and were invited by the British Council to play in Azerbaijan.
From the new millennium Jonathan started forging musical friendships abroad. Following a festival appearance in Eilat on the Red Sea with trumpeter Damon Brown, they formed a quartet with Zaaki Levi and Yorai Oron, touring Israel and the UK and releasing an album, ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’.
In Italy he formed a trio with bassist Danilo Gallo and drummer Alessandro Minetto — Gee Gallo Minetto — which played many clubs and festivals in the UK, Italy, Ireland and France and released ‘Cream of Mandarins’ on the noted label Artesuono.
In France he joined the Didier Conchon/Ray Layzelles Quintet featuring Wayne Dochery which played all over France and released ‘Falling Rocks’.
In Finland he worked extensively with trumpet and producing star Mika Myllari. They played a week at Pori Festival, ran the jam session for a number of years at Helsinki Espoo Festival, and created the electronic project 'Northern Star People', playing music inspired by the metaphysical properties of the snooker ball. This created so much interest on sports websites that Ronnie O’Sullivan was asked his views on the band in an interview in The Guardian.
Meanwhile Jonathan had begun intensive study of the music of Thelonious Monk with his neighbours, Tony Kofi and Ben Hazleton. After a couple of years of rehearsal they started touring as the Tony Kofi Quartet, until Jonathan had the ‘bright idea’ of performing the complete works over a six-hour period. This was taken up by the London Jazz Festival and in 2003 (listed by them as one of THE gigs of the last 25 years), toured around Italy the same year, was reprised for Monk’s 90th birthday in 2007, and in 2017 for his centenary with special guest Charles Tolliver. The quartet also released two award-winning albums, and performed in, for instance, New York, Shanghai, Tel Aviv and Berlin.
From 2005 Jonathan started visiting New York twice a year, playing and listening as much as possible. Out of these visits came his trio with Joseph Lepore and Nasheet Waits which toured the UK and recorded the album ‘Dragonfly’. In 2014 his trio played sell-out shows at Dizzy’s Lincoln Centre and at Rochester Jazz Festival. With Lepore he has played regularly in the UK and Italy, most recently at Alexanderplatz, Rome.
The last few years has seen extensive work with Tim Whitehead, Jean Toussaint, Cleveland Watkiss, Julian Fenton, Jay Phelps/Micheal Mwenso, his various trios, notably with Larry Bartley/Ernesto Simpson, Sylvan Richardson/Richard Spaven and Marcus Vergette/Andy Trim, a memorable two-piano concert with one of Jonathan's heroes, Mike Westbrook, and tours with Craig Handy and Howard Britz/Will Vinson, and a life-changing European tour with Pharoah Sanders.
Currently Jonathan is focusing on his singing, with an album being prepared for release soon. His teaching includes work at the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy, in Oxford and Eastman, NY.
His more commercial work includes gigs and sessions with Coppe, Alison Moyet, US3, Jeremy Hardy and Harry Hill.
Since 2018 he has been performing regularly in the UK and Italy with saxist Gaetano Partipilo, bassist Guiseppe Bassi and drummer Fabio Accardi, all from Bari, collectively called lsashiburi. They have an album due for release in Autumn 2019 playing their own music and reimagined Beatles songs.