John Donaldson started played keyboards and piano in various bands in the 70s including a stint with 'Big Grunt'. Jazz gigs started when he was a student in 1978, being part of the Cambridge Modern Jazz Club's resident trio along with Chucho Merchan and Nic France and backed visiting guest soloists in the city. In 1980 he won the prize for best soloist at the San Sebastian International Jazz Competition.
In 1982 he moved to California. He studied with Joe Henderson, played with Paul Contos, Stan Poplin, Kenny Stahl, Tim Jackson, Randy Masters, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard, Donny McCaslin, Eddie Marshall, Kenny Wolleson, Ben Goldberg, Daniel Sabanovich and played gigs with notables including Eddie Henderson, Red Holloway, John Handy, Richie Cole, Paul Jackson, David Baker, Steve Turre, Laurindo Almeida.
Since returning to London in 1993 he has been active on the UK scene playing in groups led by Iain Ballamy, Art Themen, Clark Tracey, Alan Barnes, Don Weller, John Etheridge, Dick Pearce and Norma Winstone. He has also accompanied visiting soloists, Art Farmer, Conte Condoli, Freddie Hubbard, Buddy de Franco/Terry Gibbs, Scott Hamilton, Ingrid Jensen, Jon Gordon and co-lead the band 'Septpiece' with Dave Mattacks and Andrew Cleyndert.
In 2006 he was the winner of the piano catagory at the Marstons Pedigree British Jazz Awards. 'Live at the Appleby Jazz Festival' was on the Irish Times list of essential CD's of 2006.
"With remarkably little publicity or fuss John Donaldson has emerged as one of Britain's most exciting contemporary jazz pianists with his own distinctive style" - Dave Gelly, The Observer.
"The album is simply superb, fluent, flowing pianistics set against a busy, energetic polyrhythmic drum and bass support. Altogether a magnificent piano album". - Chris Yates, Jazz Rag.
"One of the great piano players of recent British jazz. A patient, absorbing player by no means averse to building Tyneresque tension and release into his solos, but generally more interested in the subtle melodic and rhythmic felicities that can be drawn from them. A fine trio album" - Chris Parker, VortexJazz.co.uk.
"Distinctive take on contemporary jazz piano" a bit like McCoy Tyner with the volume and temperature turned down" - John Fordham, The Guardian.
"Donaldson's interpretations are strongly influenced by Sirkis's fluttering cymbals and tapping percussion, so much so that his dancing notes sound like the wings of butterflies. The tunes feel newly free and mischievous" -- Chris Searle, Morning Star.
Pianist Donaldson turns up in bands led by Alan Barnes or Don Weller and can steal the show even in such company. He turns fleeting cues into triumphs, has a sophisticated harmonic sense and flair for dynamics-all demonstrated on this fine trio date" - Peter Vacher, Jazz UK.
" A strong collection of tunes all round. A direct and assured approach" Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post.
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