Artist Profile: Jonathan Kessler

Jonathan Kessler is a musician with many facets. His command of the Doumbek drum is extraordinary. A trained and licensed psychotherapist, accomplished teacher, published author, specialist in E-Learning, and virtuoso performer, he brings his wealth of experience to all of his musical and creative endeavors.

Jonathan has been playing music professionally since the age of 15, and has been performing Middle Eastern music since 1981. He has performed with many of the worldís greatest Arab, Turkish, and Armenian musicians, including Necati «elik, John Bilezikjian, and Jallaledin Takesh. His compositions on the CD "At the Court of the Chera Kings" have received national radio airplay and have been featured in a documentary film. His solos on the Farabi albums "Travels with Farabi" and "Taverna" have been used by numerous bellydance teachers for classes, workshops and performances nationwide.

Jonathan spent 10 years performing, recording, and teaching Bass Guitar. His teaching credits include teaching several sessions at the prestigious Bass Institute of Technology in Hollywood, CA. As a bassist, he toured and performed with a variety of successful world music bands including Irie, The One Heart Band, and Batiki Beat. Since the early 1980ís Jonathan has explored Middle Eastern Percussion, focusing on the Doumbek. He studied with Souhael Kaspar of the Aleppo Conservatory, working on classical Arab technique and learning rhythms from Turkey, Armenia, and the Arab world.

Jonathan has taught Doumbek drumming for the University of California, Santa Barbaraís Middle East Ensemble. He has taught in numerous classes and workshops, and is in demand to play for Middle Eastern dancers throughout the United States. Most recently, Jonathan Kessler has been featured on The Doumbek Video, an instructional tape of Arab drumming styles. His warm, personable teaching style and intricate knowledge of Middle Eastern drumming have made his workshops popular with drummers of all levels of ability.

Jonathanís articles and reviews have been featured in DRUM! Magazine, Percussive Notes (The Journal of the Percussive Arts Society), RMM Magazine, and Habibi. His interest in the culture of the Middle East led to his publishing an article on traditional Turkish and Persian Archery in Traditional Bowhunter magazine. He has been interviewed on local and national radio and has been profiled in Notes, the newsletter of Musicianís Institute. In addition to teaching doumbek drumming, he leads workshops on psychotherapy and trance.

Artist's Statement

"I may be naive, but I strongly believe that by playing music from other cultures, and sharing our own musicality and experiences, we lessen the distance between ourselves and others. There is magic in music, and that magic is to bring people together. At present, I am fulfiling this healing, ecstatic aspect of music playing Turkish and Gypsy music with Farabi, and with various world music fusion performing and recording projects, as well as explorations of Kezmer and Ladino music.

"I have recently been featured in an instructional video for the doumbek, entitled " The Doumbek Video", and I am excited about sharing the magic of this drum with a wider audience".

"Other recent involvements include a wonderful musical collaboration put together by producer Kavi Alexander of Waterlilly Acoustics. The record that came from this session, entitled At the Court of the Chera King, is a beautiful blending of musicians from around the world. It features vocals and instruments from the Hindustani and Carnatic traditions, along with European Cello, jazz Violin, Amercian Dobro, a variety of African instruments, and Middle Eastern Percussion. There is a purity to keeping within the bounds of a given musical tradition, but there can also be some truly beautiful music made when people from diverse backgrounds get together with no preconceptions and the sincere desire to communicate."

For more information about Jonathan Kessler, visit his homepage.

Feel free to contact Jonathan at:
Changes last made on: October 2002
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