Jonathan Mills is an active jazz musician, percussionist, and educator currently based in Atlanta, GA. He attended Georgia State University and earned a Master of Music in Jazz Studies in 2015. Before that, Jonathan earned a dual degree in Music Education and Percussion Performance from Slippery Rock University in 2013. His primary instructors include Justin Varnes at GSU and Dr. David Glover at SRU.
As a performer, Jonathan works as a freelance jazz musician with Danny and Terry Harper, William Hollifield, Brandon Boone, Emmanuel "Chops" Smith, Drew Lloyd, Brian Reid, Dave Frackenpohl, Luke Weathington, and many others around Atlanta. Each week Jonathan hosts & curates the Ziba’s Sunday Jazz Jam in Historic Grant Park. He is also a member of original Americana group Caleb & The Gents, based in Atlanta and Chattanooga. The Gents tour regionally throughout the southeast and have gone as far up the coast as Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA. When not involved in other projects, Jonathan can be found in the house band at Little Alley Steak, Buckhead with The Brooks Twins Band most weeknights.
Jonathan leads his own Trio/Quartet which focuses on original compositions and arrangements. His compositions primarily draw from the jazz tradition, with influences of funk, rock, folk, and some world music. Find Jonathan’s three latest releases from the Atlanta series, Blue Pickup Sessions, on their Youtube page here.
Some notable artists Jonathan has worked with include George Cables, Grace Kelly, Harold Betters (Louis Armstrong, Slide Hampton, Ray Charles), & Ashleigh Smith (Sarah Vaughn International Vocal Competition winner). While a student at GSU and SRU, Jonathan had the honor of performing with Mike Abene, Joey DeFrancesco, Bobby Shew, Donny McCaslin, Jerry Bergonzi, and Joe Negri (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) to name a few. Jonathan has performed at Rockwood Music Hall NYC, Spivey Hall, the Rialto Theater, the Atlanta Film Festival, Churchill Grounds, Mason Tavern, The Jynx Savannah, Tybee Post Theatre, the Athens Jazz Society, Paris, Fete de la Musique in Toulouse, France, and many other stages up and down the East Coast.
Jonathan’s joy for teaching began with a private studio in 2007 and grew during his student teaching experience at SRU. During his time at GSU, Jonathan held a graduate assistantship where his responsibilities included teaching undergraduate drum set lessons, directing undergraduate jazz combos, assisting with Jazz History courses including guest lecturing, and more. During his time at GSU, Jonathan also co-directed a Rialto Youth Jazz Ensemble with Justin Varnes and worked with the Rialto Jazz for Kids program in Atlanta. He was also honored to work as a guest artist with a jazz combo at Emory University during his final semester at GSU. Following his time at GSU, Jonathan taught for two school years (2015-2017) as Instructor of Music at Miles College in Birmingham, AL. There, he taught the Miles Percussion Ensemble, applied classical/jazz percussion students, and music theory courses. Currently Jonathan maintains a private percussion teaching studio at Carere Music in Atlanta, GA where he’s been teaching since 2015.