Jonathan Pena

Playing alongside Kevin Eubanks

One of my game changing moments happened while I was in high school. I had known my school was associated with something called "Thelonious Monk Institute", but I didn’t know what it was all about. One day, the bass player approached me and told me "Hey I got a call from Daniel Seeff (works with Monk Institute) and he needs a drummer to play with some guitar player". Of course I said "Yes" and my bass player and I went to rehearsals in the valley.

When I got there I see this short guy playing on the piano and Daniel Seeff introduces me. He said "Jonathan this is Kevin Eubanks musical director for the tonight show". I was in total shock a man I had heard play guitar since I was a little kid was standing right in front of me shaking my hand. I had the opportunity to rehearse with him for 3 days and in those three days my whole approach to music changed. The words he told me captivated me and my playing style. He said "We aren’t here to play the tune; we are here to make music and create something from nothing". He told me to drive the band where I needed to and they would follow. Ever since then, my playing has been more musical and groove oriented and after listening to his advice I have been offered many gigs and small tours around the United States. I am forever indebted to the Thelonious Monk Institute and Kevin Eubanks for the words they gave me and the opportunity to play with amazing musicians.

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