By Andrew Poretz . . .

Jonathan Arons first came to this writer’s attention at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland Jazz. There, dressed in a form-fitting yellow bodysuit and playing trombone, he wowed the crowd in an over-the-top bit that at one point had him on the floor, playing his trombone with his feet. You can call him a novelty act—he’s even authored a book by this name—but you’d be missing the big picture. 

The star is a firebrand of a performer, and there’s simply no one like him.  Jon is an ace trombonist in multiple genres. He has played with the likes of Stevie Wonder and The Charles Mingus Big Band and recorded on The Dave Holland Big Band’s Grammy-winning album Overtime. Jon is a terrific singer with a bari-tenor voice. He also dances, and is quite funny. He’s a non-stop Energizer Bunny of frenetic, kinetic and sometimes provocative movement, something like Jim Carrey in Mask from the neck down. 

In the Horn is a tribute to the famous bands and artists who feature horn sections, and Jon wrote or adapted the arrangements for his seven-piece backup band. Bassist Thomas Gooding, drummer Beza Gebre, keyboardist Howie Robbins and guitarist Tony Ormond comprised the rhythm section. Trumpeter Jimmy Rose and trombonist Harry Phillips made up the brass section, while Bryan Cowan was a one-man reed section on alto and baritone sax, as well as flute.

Jon bounded to the stage dressed in a dazzling white dinner jacket with black trim, black tuxedo pants and a white shirt. With nonstop energy, this “dancing trombonist” played and danced his way through a “Shake Your Body” medley of Michael Jackson songs. “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” could be taken as a declaration, as this set the high bar for the rest of the set.

Tony Ormond

With the audience revved up, the high-octane performer led a terrific medley of songs by the 70s group Chicago, including Tony Ormond’s sizzling guitar solo on “25 or 6 to 4.” 

“I wasn’t always this cool,” Jon told the packed crowd. He was a nerdy kid interested in big band music, he claimed.  His parents, who were present, were instrumental in his musical development.  Jon’s mom was his voice and piano teacher. His father played guitar, and the family jammed together.

A Sinatra medley of “Fly Me To The Moon,” “Summer Wind” and “New York, New York” showed off Jon’s crooning chops. After a Blood, Sweat & Tears/Tower of Power medley, Jon got down and funky with some James Brown music. This flexible fellow executed the first of several splits! (His pants eventually proved to be not quite as flexible.)

The star described himself as “Darth Vader into salsa.” In one of several multimedia sections, clips were shown from Jon’s appearances on shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” including an hysterical trombone battle between Chewbacca and Darth Vader on “Tequila,” with Jon in the Vader costume. He used the movie screen as a shoji screen to change into his yellow bodysuit and headband.

Jon got everyone dancing for the disco part of the show, with a well-played Earth, Wind & Fire medley. 

Jon Arons and Bryan Cowan

A most memorable segment was a battle of the trombone versus the alto sax. Jon and Bryan Cowan took turns musically sparring, with the audience deciding who won each challenge.

The star showed his vulnerability, telling the story of his deceased sister. This made him and the audience quite emotional; he began the next number with tears dripping down his face.  

Jon continued to dance and play his way through performances of songs like “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” and “Uptown Funk.” He made several costume changes, sometimes right on stage. He received a sustained standing ovation. For an encore, he split the audience down the middle to teach them their singing parts, for a lively “Sweet Caroline.”

Jonathan Arons is one helluva entertainer. His tremendously entertaining show is a must-see act that the small Triad stage can barely contain. Vegas, anyone? You can find Jonathan Arons on TikTok @dancingtrombone and on Instagram @jonathanarons, or his website,

Jonathan Arons: In the Horn took place on January 19 at The Triad Theater, 158 West 72nd Street between Broadway and Columbus Avenue (

Photos: Andrew Poretz