Eli Yamin gives online lessons from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy

Eli at Keys turns towards audience by Ed Berger

photo by Ed Berger


Eli Yamin celebrates Dave Brubeck on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy

In mid-december, producer Seton Hawkins from Jazz at Lincoln Center asked me if I wanted to film some lessons on Dave Brubeck’s classic quartet–Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright and Joe Morello.  He said to think about a band who could talk about these great musicians and offer insight into Brubeck’s compositions.  Well, I knew the right drummer in Stefan Schatz because he had told me about studying with Morello some years ago plus I knew he could play the Turkish rhythm that inspired Dave in Istanbul back in ’58. Bassist Paul Beaudry was an easy pick because he is so articulate and swinging.  They there’s Sherman Irby, the lead alto player in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  I thought he would be great because of his sweet and soulful sound.  It turns out, Paul Desmond was the first jazz alto saxophonist he studied and immersed himself in when he first got into jazz from a classical background.

Next, I dove deep into Dave Brubeck’s music. Fortunately I had been practicing “Blue Rondo a la Turk” for some time.  I wrote it out for quartet and mastered the 9/8 rhythm.  Lots of repetition. My friend Dennis from Long Island has been trying to get me to play “Strange Meadlowlark” for the past 2 New Year’s Eve’s.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to write it out and play it with the band.  Hope you like it Dennis.  Paul Beaudry has great things to say about it too.  “Unsquare Dance” is so incredibly hip.  “Take Five” is a must.  And “The Duke” I found out was originally for Dave’s teacher Darius Milhaud as well as his hero and colleague Duke Ellington.  A wonderful collection of music resulted.  And, I started to feel how truly Dave Brubeck has been to me all along my journey in jazz.  Dave once wrote me “I congratulate you for your seeming unlimited patience…”  He was talking about my work with students.  But maybe it was more.  Great things come to those who wait (and keep practicing).


Eli Yamin Quartet at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC

Eli Yamin Quartet at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC

We are thrilled to report 4 sold out shows at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.  Please join us from wherever you are around the globe for the free webcast thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center!

Webcast Eli Yamin & Friends December 18, 7:30-10:45pm EST

I am joined by an amazing cast of All-Stars, LaFrae Sci, drums, Nicki Parrot, bass, Evan Christopher, clarinet, Catherine Russell, voice.  Catherine has been knocking us out with her interpretation of “It’s the Way That You Talk” from The Jazz Drama Program musical, Holding the Torch for Liberty and she is premiering the vocal version of the song Evan and I wrote dedicated to Mahalia Jackson, “Let His Love Take Me Higher.”  It’s a wonderful to celebrate the holidays.  We hope you can tune in!!!



















Celebrating “Louie’s Dream” with New Quartet Live in New York

Eli Yamin Quartet at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC

Eli Yamin Quartet at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC, photo by Ayano Hisa

We had an amazing Louie’s Dream CD Release Celebration last week at Dizzy’s with Nicki Parrot on bass, LaFrae Sci, drums and Evan Christopher, clarinet and Eli Yamin on piano.  It was pure magic with so many old and new friends packing the house for both sets!  If you want some of the music to take home, listen and purchase Louie’s Dream here.

Truly everyone got involved with jazz royalty Mercedes Ellington (Duke’s Granddaughter) and high maestro of the mic, Phil Schaap, joining forces to get everybody snapping in the right place on Dancers in Love.  You better believe, there were no squares HERE.

All photos by Ayano Hisa








2013 Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival

New York jazz musician and teacher Eli Yamin shows his enthusiasm for playing jazz to the the Moscow High School Jazz Band at a workshop at 2013 Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. Photo by Barry Kough Lewiston Tribune

New York jazz musician and teacher Eli Yamin shows his enthusiasm for playing jazz to the the Moscow High School Jazz Band at a workshop at 2013 Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival at University of Idaho                                                     Photo by Barry Kough, Lewiston Tribune

The newspapers wrote, “Jammin’ with Yamin,” and you know, it really was.  It’s my dream and mission for jazz education to feel like the real thing–as creative, adventurous and rapturous as performing it and that’s what’s happening at The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. I’m so grateful for this wonderful festival that provides the opportunity for this to happen for people of all ages.  I loved all the students I worked with from the high school jazz bands in Moscow and Asotian as well as the elementary schools I performed at in Pinehurst and Moscow.  Then there were the hundreds of students attending my workshops in Free Improvisation–what a thrill, and Jazz Culture and Swing Rhythm.  Special thanks to Theresa Meacham of Franklin Elementary for bringing over 60 3rd graders to sing the blues with us.  Your students are fearless and soulful!

And all this led up to the climax of our festival week with the blossoming partnership between The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and The Jazz Drama Program, the non profit I co-founded in 2003.  Now in its third year at the Festival, this time we received the support of the University’s Theater Department and set up shop in the campus’ Hartung theater.  This gave the students the unforgettable experience of working in a professional theater on their production of Holding the Torch for Liberty, the jazz musical about women’s suffrage by myself and Clifford Carlson.  Five schools participated in the production: Clarkston High School, Charles Francis Adams High School (British Columbia), Lincoln Middle School, Moscow High School, and University of Idaho—musicians and teaching artist/mentors.  The students sang, danced, acted and played in the pit orchestra.  Many worked on the songs 3 weeks prior to the festival but then everyone stepped up big time to stage the show in a 5-hour rehearsal the day before the performance.  Hats off to choreographer and co-director, the formidable and spirited Kyle Rustabakke as well as assistant musical director and trumpeter extraordinaire, Kyle Gemberling, vocal coach and featured singer (more and more raucous each time-and that’s a good thing), Rachael Lewis, and dance captain and Miss Liberty with a capital “L”, Brittany Isaacson.  The heavy lifting for production coordination, costumes and everything else was carried out with joy, grace and laser beam focus by Jami Riener.  Also thanks to our partner teachers Bill Legg from Clarkston and Tricia James from Pullman who also served as narrator-2 years in a row! Huge thanks to Education Coordinator Dwina Howey for setting all this in motion as well as Artistic Director John Clayton for his positive vision for the present and future of the festival and the man willing to take a chance and win with Jazz Drama, Executive Director Steve Remington.  Also thanks to Festival Board member Ellen Delevan for her steadfast and enthusiastic support.

With such a whirlwind production schedule,  it was amazing to see how this team of students and pros joined forces to tell the story of the fight for women’s suffrage in the language of jazz.  Jazz and theatre show us the way to work together toward a common goal and find and celebrate our shared humanity.  May this work continue to thrive in communities throughout the Northwest and the rest of the world.

Enjoy the photos from our friend Skyler Patterson….and  highlights from participant surveys…

What was your favorite part of participating in Holding the Torch for Liberty?

“The feeling of being a professional.”

“Working with college students.”

“I loved working with a different kind of music than I’m used to (jazz) and working in a professional setting.  It helped me and I learned a lot.”

“Coming together with several other people from all over.  And the jazz music was really great too!”

Watching the students progress and bond.”–Teacher

“I really liked how professional it was.  Since we didn’t have so many rehearsals, we had to take it upon ourselves to get stuff learned.”

“Incorporating the message while playing, communicating and working together as a team.” –Musician

“Seeing the growth from last year.”–Musician

“Getting to listen to other older voices and being able to work with them.”

“I liked how supportive people were when people made mistakes.”

“Being able to pull together as one group.”

“Meeting and working with new people to make jazz.”

“Efficiency, great music, unity, focus, enthusiasm (from every single person!)

What was different about working on this jazz show compared to other music or theatre shows you have worked on in the past?

“We weren’t babied with everyday rehearsals for weeks and we weren’t given a ‘cookbook’ musical.”

“It’s the only musical that combines jazz with a positive message about American Culture.”—Musician

“The music is jazz and the musicians are an important part of the show.  I just loved the music so much and the awesome improvisation every time…! It was also a great jazz concert.”

“There’s a lot more free movement and attitudes with jazz.”

“The feeling, the soul, the energy.”

“The emotion in the music and the freedom to add things.”

“The art of it and the way it was put together.”

“My favorite part was learning the Wildcat Strut.”

“The improv. of the band added so much emotion.”

“[Jazz] helped us get into character because it gave us feelings to portray.”

“The instrumental music is shared with the vocal music, not just support.  It was fun and helped the actors emote.”

“How everyone put in 100%, and not depending completely on the teacher but on helping one another when help was needed.

Describe one thing you learned:

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself or ask questions.”

“I learned that jazz is isn’t all thinking on the spot.  It is full of feeling that supports you.”

“Things can be learned fast and efficient if you have focus.”

“I learned to work cohesively with total strangers.  It was really FUN!”

“How quick we can learn with no interruptions.”

“I learned more about women’s suffrage.”

“I learned how to swing.”

“I learned that jazz can teach more about life than music [by] itself.”

“Reignited my passion for jazz in general. I learned that playing jazz is not about playing perfectly all the time, but being in a fun conversation with others of similar interest.”—Musician

“Creating communities can be that easy if you put in the effort.”–Teacher

“I learned how to teach kids in a positive way that doesn’t require yelling or negativity!  I also learned to try new things each time I’m on stage.” –mentor

“I learned good vocal things to make my voice better.”

Eli’s blues message in a State Department salute to Black History Month


I’m honored to be featured in this article on the blues on the US Embassy website…

American Blues Music Formed by Pain to Cure Pain
– by Stephen Kaufman

Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert and APAP Showcase

Join us this Saturday night January 12, 2013 in New York City for a great night of music and raising money for a great cause.

We are happy to participate in MOJO’S MARDIS GRAS CONCERT where profits will go to Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts via funds raised by Mecca Shriners and the Mariners Masonic Lodge No. 67 Operating Budget.

LaFrae’s Band 13th Amendment? goes on at 8pm, followed by Eli Yamin Blues Band from 8:40-9:10pm and Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies at 9:30.   We are going to play the blues to get rid of the blues. Please join us!
Tickets are $25 at the door.  APAP Badges gain free admission.  Additional donations are welcome.

Eli Yamin Blues Band Saturday, January 12 8pm

Connelly’s Klub
121 West 45th Street
New York City

Eli Yamin bandleader

Eli Yamin bandleader


Charenee Wade, voice
Charenee Wade, voice
Bob Stewart on tuba

Bob Stewart on tuba

LaFrae Sci

Eli Yamin Blues Band and Okra Dance Company at TriBeca Performing Arts Center

The Eli Yamin Blues Band in performance at TriBeca Performing Arts Center initiating a new partnership between The Jazz Drama Program and The Okra Dance Company. From L to R: Eli Yamin, Mazz Swift, Bob Stewart, LaFrae Sci, Shireen Dickson, Mitchell Wayne

What a gas it was performing with all these cats.  This is what I’m talking about–jazz arts for a better world!  We can do this when we coordinate our minds!  That phrase comes from Don Pullen’s tune, “Listen to the People.”  This is the 20th anniversary of that tune. Everyone needs to know it too…that’s why we play it and live it besides.  Thanks to everyone who came to the concert and thanks to everyone who is with us in spirit.  We need you now more then ever.  Let’s spread this message throughout the world!

Listen to the People by Don and Sandra Pullen


So if we listen to the people

As we go from day to day

Understanding so much better

Stop to see things more that way

Now the world’s losing something

With the will to try and find

All mankind

Come together today

And incorporate our mind


So if we listen to the people

As we try to find our way.

With a world of only sorrow

There must be a brighter day.

Yes the world’s losing something

With the will to try and find

All mankind

Come together today

Let’s incorporate our mind


Come together

Come together today

Two Pianos Two Minds One Message – FREEDOM

Eli Yamin and Damien Sneed

Great times presenting on the music of the Civil Rights Movement this week at Mesa Arts Center with maestro Damien Sneed.  What a pleasure and honor.  Looking forward to next week’s concert with Eli Yamin Blues Band and the Okra Dance Company at TriBeca Performing Arts Center in lower Manhattan, Friday, October 26 at 8pm.  Please do join us if you are in town. This event is co-produced by The Jazz Drama Program.

Eli in Arizona desert drinking the jazz nectar!

The Jazz Drama Program presents New Orleans Music and Culture Professional Development at National Dance Insitute Center for Learning & the Arts in Harlem, USA

Eli Yamin gives professional development to teaching artists at National Dance Institute in Harlem.

What a pleasure and honor it was giving this professional development workshop at National Dance Institute at their beautiful new center in Harlem.  Thanks to music director, Jerome Korman and Artistic Director, Ellen Weinstein for bringing me back to NDI after many years.  What a tremendous group of dancers and musicians ready to give their artistry, passion, devotion, talent and time to the young people of  New York City schools through NDI’s extensive outreach programs.  May your efforts reach all children waiting to breath the fresh air of the arts in their schools!

Jazz Quartet North Country Tour

The Eli Yamin Jazz Quartet with Eli Yamin, Ari Roland, Zaid Nasser and LaFrae Sci

Eli Yamin Jazz Quartet hits the North Country this weekend with Eli Yamin, piano, Zaid Nasser, alto saxophone, Ari Roland, bass, LaFrae Sci, drums

Click on “gigs” for all the details!

Here’s  a teaser from a Montenegro TV show we did a while ago…