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The Evolution of Music: A Conversation with Contemporary Jazz Artist Jonathan Michelle

In a captivating interview with DETV Music, Ivan sat down with Jonathan Michelle, a contemporary jazz artist known for his deep musical insights and vibrant performances. They discussed the evolution of music and the industry, Jonathan’s creative process, the influence of spirituality on his art, and his experiences in Philadelphia’s dynamic music scene. Jonathan also shared details about his debut album “MDR” and an upcoming Imani Records jazz festival.

Jonathan’s Musical Journey

From the outset, it was clear that Jonathan’s musical journey has been a profound and evolving experience. When asked about the challenges of evolving as an artist, Jonathan explained that it’s difficult to assess one’s growth while immersed in the creative process. “You have to participate and be immersed in the process,” he said.

Reflecting on the changes in the music industry from 1982 to 2024, Jonathan noted that while the business models have evolved, some older practices still linger. He acknowledged that artists today don’t make as much money from album sales as they used to, but touring costs have increased, adding to the financial strain.

Creative Process and Spirituality

Jonathan’s creative process blends influences from various artists and bands he collaborates with, synthesizing these experiences into his own unique compositions. “I absorb different musical influences and then synthesize those experiences into my own compositions and arrangements,” he explained.

Spirituality plays a significant role in Jonathan’s life and music. Through practices like prayer, meditation, and exercise, he centers himself to be an open vessel for creative expression. “For me, spirituality helps center me for creativity,” he shared.

Debut Album and Upcoming Projects

Jonathan’s debut album, “MDR,” was released in 2018. He is working on his second album, which promises to build on his unique sound and philosophical approach to music. Jonathan describes his music as “a barbecue, church, Juneteenth history lesson party,” blending messages about ancestry, Blackness, and Philadelphia’s influence with an invitation to dance and celebrate.

Philadelphia’s Musical Influence

Moving to Philadelphia was transformative for Jonathan. He immersed himself in the city’s rich musical heritage, particularly influenced by its renowned bass players and drummers. Veteran musicians like Edgar Bateman and Julian Pressley mentored him, encouraging him to bring his electric bass into traditional jazz settings.

“Philadelphia’s musicians poured into me,” Jonathan said, describing how the city’s vibrant music scene shaped his approach.


Upcoming Imani Records Jazz Festival

Jonathan Michelle highlighted an upcoming Imani Records jazz festival on August 31 in Washington Township, Pennsylvania. He invited the audience to attend, providing details on how to find information and purchase tickets through the Imani Records Facebook page.

A Philosophical Approach to Music

Currently, Jonathan is most in love with the philosophy of music. He sees it as an important part of the social fabric, serving different purposes and audiences. His approach to music is deeply philosophical, considering it a calling rather than just a profession.

As the interview wrapped up, it was evident that Jonathan Michelle is not just a musician but a visionary artist deeply connected to his roots and committed to his craft. His journey, insights, and upcoming projects promise to leave a lasting impact on the contemporary jazz scene.

For more information about Jonathan Michelle and the Imani Records jazz festival, visit the Imani Records Facebook page. Don’t miss the chance to experience Jonathan’s unique blend of jazz and philosophy live!


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