A deeply nuanced world -- Jonas crafts a richly expansive sound that stresses subtle timbral shadings and tersely composed phrases punctuated by sudden bursts of flavorful improvisation... Distinctive, accessible, simple and achingly beautiful.

- Michael Kremer, Jazziz

Sun Spits Cherries

Sun Spits Cherries (composer, performer, band-leader)

Sun Spits Cherries was my primary band during the final years in NYC late 90s and early 2000s. This was a vehicle for composition and ensemble ideas during that time and it still exemplifies the pocket of musical exploration I love to this day: simple timbral objects situated together in a complicated space.

Chris Jonas, soprano saxophone, and composition
Joe Fiedler, tenor trombone
Chris Washburne, bass trombone
Andrew Barker, percussion

PDF to score here

Anthony Braxton

Anthony Braxton
I first worked with Anthony Braxton in 1989 when he was faculty at Mill’s College in Oakland, CA. In 1996, I became his assistant as a composition grad student at Wesleyan University, where I helped to produce an opera and various festivals and concerts of his works. After he received a MacArthur Award, I was part of the group that started the first iteration of the Tri-Centric Foundation. During this time I also joined numerous ensembles performing his “Ghost Trance” compositions, touring and recording internationally until 2002. In 2008, Taylor Ho Bynum restarted the Tri-Centric Foundation and invited me to rejoin the board, where I have since functioned as President and Vice President. Over the years since, I have participated in a wide variety of projects, as a saxophone player, producer, conductor, section leader, and video artist.

Anthony has been a lifelong mentor and collaborator. At the heart of his work, which has so informed my own, are the following ideas: Creative work is a means to create an example and a framework for being a community, inclusive of and made powerful from our differences. Creative work is an adventure both inside and outside us, seeking constructions that make us more human, vulnerable, and therefore more capable of making things that are beyond the norm of culture and practice. Fresh creative forms provide opportunities for new experiences for performers and audience alike, revealing ways of illuminating the world and one another in new and therefore relevant ways.

I have worked with Anthony as a sideman in concerts, ensembles, on CDs; as a collaborating artist, conductor, and video artist; in creation of the Braxton archives; on production of his operas Trillium R (Shala Fears for the Poor) and Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables), and other large projects, festivals, and events over the past years, including the Braxton/Sonic Genome projects.

Anthony Braxton Saxophone Quartet - European Tour 2022  

  Photo - Dawid Laskowski (Anthony Braxton, James Fei, Chris Jonas, Ingrid Laubrock)

Anthony Braxton’s Saxophone Quartet featuring James Fei, Chris Jonas, Ingrid Laubrock, and Andre Vida perform in Europe in Late May and Early June 2022

The music of the Saxophone Quartet is highly structured and carefully conceived. Much of this structure comes from Braxton's use of live interactive electronics in the ensemble, uniquely developed by Braxton using the SuperCollider program. The electronics function almost like an improvising fifth member of the ensemble.

Anthony Braxton: alto sax, soprano sax, sopranino sax and electronics
James Fei: alto sax and sopranino sax
Chris Jonas: Soprano and tenor sax
Ingrid Laubrock: Soprano and tenor sax
and for one show, André Vida: bass sax and tenor saxes

2022-05-29 Jazz Club – Vilnius
Anthony Braxton Saxophone Quartet feat. James Fei, Chris Jonas and Andre Vida

2033-06-03 Teatro San Leonardo – Bologna
Anthony Braxton Saxophone Quartet feat. Ingrid Laubrock, James Fei and Chris Jonas

2022-06-05 De Singel – Antwerp
Anthony Braxton Saxophone Quartet feat. Ingrid Laubrock, James Fei and Chris Jonas

2022-06-07 Casa del jazz – Roma
Anthony Braxton Saxophone Quartet feat. Ingrid Laubrock, James Fei and Chris Jonas

You can read more about the Saxophone Quartet on All About Jazz here

 Photo - Dawid Laskowski (Anthony Braxton, James Fei)

  Photo - Daiva Kloviene (Anthony Braxton, James Fei, Chris Jonas, André Vida)

  Photo - Dawid Laskowski (Anthony Braxton, James Fei, Chris Jonas, Ingrid Laubrock)

   Photo - Margherita Caprilli (Anthony Braxton, James Fei, Chris Jonas, Ingrid Laubrock)

   Photo - Margherita Caprilli (Chris Jonas)

    (Anthony Braxton, James Fei, Chris Jonas, André Vida)

    (André Vida, Chris Jonas, James Fei, Anthony Braxton, Judita Bartoševičienė)

    (Anthony Braxton, James Fei, Chris Jonas, André Vida)

Braxton/Sonic Genome

Braxton/Sonic Genome (conducting)

In 2015 and again in 2019 I was a section leader and then a conductor for Anthony’s Braxton’s massive 6-8 hour Sonic Genome projects, first in the Museo Egizio (the Egyptian Museum) in Turin, Italy, and then as one of the three main conductors at the Berlin Jazz Festival in the Gropius Bau museum.

Cecil Taylor

Cecil Taylor (music director, performer)

In 1995, I had the opportunity to audition for and join Cecil’s large ensemble for a concert at the Knitting Factory in NYC. On and off over the next two years I functioned as Cecil’s musical director and as a regular bandmate, helping to arrange and prepare a wide variety of small and large groups for concerts worldwide. Very few of these remarkable compositions Cecil write during this time were ever performed. After developing and rehearsing sets of music before each concert and just as we were going onto stage, Cecil would tell the band “instead of playing the music, let’s improvise.” And these compositions are a part of Cecil’s music that is almost completely unknown.

Spending so many months playing and writing with him, his influence remains central to my concepts of line and form, and an understanding of the fire and access to other domains possible in music.

Here’s a wonderful Burning Ambulance piece on my experience in Cecil’s band.

• Cello – Tristan Honsinger
• Double Bass – Dominic Duval
• Drums – Jackson Krall
• Piano, Composed By – Cecil Taylor
• Soprano Saxophone – Harri Sjöström
• Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Chris Jonas
• Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Elliot Levin
• Trombone – Jeff Hoyer
• Trumpet – Chris Matthay
Total Music Meeting on November 2, 1996 at the Podewil in Berlin.
Photo by Mike Heffley


Rrake (composer, performer, band leader)

In 2006, I assembled an ensemble to perform at that year’s Santa Fe High Mayhem Festival. I wanted it to be a tantrum about the surrounding world. Groove-based but exploring multiple meters at once, Rrake was raucous and immersive. Broken and sexy. Its basis was a double rhythm section—each with its own pulse to explore, horn and strings front-line, and percussion.


BING (co-composer, performer, bandleader)

This was the ensemble Molly Sturges and I co-led from 2002-06 in Santa Fe, writing original sets of music and creating soundtracks for silent films and Circus Luminous. This band was built as a means to explore musical arenas that were obsessions at the time: including, Ethiopian pop/jazz from the early 1970s, and Music from the Outskirts of Jakarta: Gambang Kromong (Smithsonian Folkways Music of Indonesia, Vol. 3). Both were conversations across musical cultures. With Molly Sturges on vocals, guitar, button accordion, and composition; myself on tenor and soprano sax and composition; Mark Weaver on trombone and tuba; Tim “Tiger” Gagan and later Ben Wright on guitars; Nina Hart on bass; Dave Wayne, then Peter Breslin, and in the end Brandon Draper on drums.