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Piano at 6, Voices at 7, Everyone at 8
Come one and come all. Let’s make it something special.
Alianza is near the 168th train station. #1 and A trains.
Looking forward to seeing you!
This new project draws on the blues songs that have sustained me through the pandemic. I’ve been playing and singing the blues everyday and I can’t wait to play and sing for you. We’ll do songs by Willie Dixon who famously said, “The blues is the roots, everything else is the fruits.” Elizabeth Cotten whose music literally installed the blues in my bones when I heard it as a child, Mahalia Jackson, whose majesty continues to inspire, Elvis Presley, one of my early heroes and then songs by yours truly, carrying the tradition to today. I hope you can join us at one of these shows with my dear band mates: Zaid Nasser, the most soulful alto saxophone you’ll ever hear, Elias Bailey, bass with a beat that can’t be beat, and David F. Gibson, powerhouse of swing and shuffle and vital life force of percussion. We’ll have special guests too at both shows Alianza in Washington Heights and National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
Jazz Power Initiative celebrates Dr. Barry Harris (1929-2021), the Internationally renowned jazz pianist, composer, educator, community builder and keeper of the bebop flame. This program is produced by Dr. Eli Yamin and celebrates the legacy of Dr. Harris with an intergenerational group performing his vocal arrangements and compositions including “Autumn in New York,” “Conception,” and “Nascimento.” We will also a premier “More Completely You,” a song composed by Eli Yamin in dedication to his mentor, Barry Harris.
Dr. Harris, was born in Detroit and moved to New York in the 1950’s where he became a prolific performer and recording artist including collaborations with Cannonball Adderley, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and Illinois Jacquet. He founded the Jazz Cultural Theatre in the 1980’s and became the most prominent bebop exponent in the late 20th and early 21st century. He had a close relationship with pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and is the recipient of the 1989 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award as well as honorary doctorate degrees from Northwestern University, Lewis College of Business and the Manhattan School of Music. His recordings and teaching are widely available online including a series of teaching videos he recorded for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy with Jazz Power Initiative’s own Dr. Eli Yamin.
Dr. Harris will always be remembered as an extraordinary leader in our community, and we are honored to celebrate him with the help of longtime friend and collaborator, conductor and pianist Phil Bingham, internationally known bassist and fellow Barry Harris disciple Ari Roland, and JPI’s young professional group, Zah! Ensemble.
I was floored to learn this week that the Charlie Puth I taught at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, NJ years ago is the same guy now writing and performing his songs for millions of fans streaming his tunes billions of times. He said “He [Eli] was one of the first piano teachers to show me jazz voicings, and even from an early age I found similarities between jazz music and pop music…I wanted to incorporate my learnings of jazz and Count Basie, obviously, and integrate that into the pop music I loved.” Wow. Thanks The Asbury Park Press and Chris Jordan for publishing the story!
Here is the article by Chris Jordan for The Asbury Park Press.
Here is a photo of us together when he was 12. I’m trying to figure out what chord I was showing him. Obviously, it was the right one!
Eli Yamin (aka Dr. “E”), piano and vocals
Zaid Nasser, alto saxophone
Elias Bailey, bass
David F. Gibson, drums
This past May I graduated from Stony Brook University, State University of New York with a doctorate in musical arts (DMA) specializing in jazz piano. I completed my studies under the mentorship and inspiration of Ray Anderson, the director of jazz studies. It was a gift to have this opportunity in mid-life to receive time and mentorship in developing my art and I made the most of it composing 13 new pieces, a big band arrangement which I produced a recording of with the University Big Band as well as mixed it in Logic (a first for me). I performed five concerts including a duo with Ray Anderson and trio adding Darrell Smith on drums, a solo piano concert, a quartet concert with Ray on trombone, Chris Lightcap on bass, and Jeremy Carlstedt on drums of all originals plus one by Jon Irabagon, a duo with violinist Curtis Stewart, and a final concert featuring the Charles Mingus iconic work, “Meditations On Integration,” along with other pieces by Kenneth Morris, Elizabeth Cotten and myself performed by James Zollar, trumpet, Ray Anderson, trombone, Melissa Slocum, bass and Jeremy Carlstedt on drums. My academic requirements included a challenging musicianship course which strengthened my ear, an ethnomusicology seminar, and a course in post tonal analysis. I gave a lecture-recital untitled “The Unmistakable Sound of Thelonious Monk,” and completed a DMA paper entitled “Calibrating the Canon: A Case For Integrating African American Music and Aesthetics in the American Music Academy,” which I presented at the JEN Conference in Dallas earlier this year and will present again at the upcoming “Theorizing African American Music Conference” at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. While at Stony Brook as a TA I taught classes in jazz piano, blues and jazz voice and instrumental improvisation. I am happy to say that my efforts towards integrating the academy had an impact in the Stony Brook Music Department in that the tonal analysis graduate seminar taught by Professor August Sheehy which once featured only Beethoven’s music now presents Duke Ellington’s and Beethoven’s music side by side to illustrate exemplary practices in tonal music. I do expect we will see more of this kind of thing in the future both at Stony Brook and elsewhere and its been a long time coming.
Here’s to all my teachers, mentors, guides, angels, friends and family who helped me reach this milestone. I’m thinking especially of Amiri and Amina Baraka who believed in me from the first time we met when I was 18, opened their home to me, and encouraged me to continue seeking truth in jazz and presenting my ideas by hook or crook like they did! I am also thinking about Barry Harris who helped reveal some of the secrets of tonal harmony to me by putting it in a framework my kind of mind could digest – SLOWLY. I could have never made it this far without this. I’m also thinking especially about my wife – Lorraine, who has always encouraged me to be my best self. I will never forget her sacrifice in running our household–cooking, cleaning, coaching- while I ran off to Stony Brook to do coursework or remained at Stony Brook in my mind while still home. Thanks darlin’. I owe you. I know.
To everyone else, I want to say, you can do it if you set your mind to it. Whatever your long term goal is, whether academic, artistic, spiritual. The main thing is just like Duke Ellington said and I’ll say it again. NEVER GIVE UP. And of course, we DO love you madly!
I was so happy to welcome my friend, the clarinet wizard Evan Christopher to his new residence in Upper Manhattan with this holiday celebration showcasing the interplay between Evan and trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso. These guys have been going at it for 30 years and we had a ball. Also, guest appearances from Jazz Power emerging artists Joie St. Hubert and Angie Pastor as well as veteran queens of swing Whitney Marchelle and Antoinette Montague. Happy Holidays everyone and here’s to a brighter 2022!
You can still view the stream here.