Recent UChicago alumnus Jontan (real name Jonathan Gardner) released his debut album, The Orange Book, on August 17th. Jontan credits his 2020 BA project, which he completed under the mentorship of former UChicago composition professor Anthony Cheung, as the sonic blueprint for his recent album.
The Orange Book features samba-soul, pensive soft rock, and left-field pop. In addition to performing most of the instruments on the home-recorded album, Jontan sets his songs apart with lush, homemade cello arrangements.
Jontan self-describes his personal journey to developing a compositional style that harks back to 1950s Rio de Janeiro: “At the beginning of college, I acquired a taste for old Brazilian music, and found myself picking up Portuguese by translating lyrics, watching interviews with 70's MPB stars, and taking Portuguese classes. It all culminated in my accepting a Foreign Language Acquisition Grant from UChicago to study in Bahia, Brazil in 2019. That's the history behind the second track, my first original song in Portuguese, which is an homage to the artist Jorge Ben Jor.”
The Orange Book can be streamed on Spotify, Bandcamp, Apple Music, YouTube, and SoundCloud. Jontan is currently recording his second album which showcases quiet, subtle songwriting alongside a tightened production style.