Jazz Power at Teatra Latea, “What Happens To A Dream,” devised theatre directed by Kena Onyejekwe w/ music by Eli “Dr. E” Yamin jazz and blues band and Zah! Jr.

2023 Jazz Power Institute for Artists and Educators

Free registration here.

Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam Festival: Uptown! A Latin jazz and swing fiesta!

More information and free registration here.

Jazz Power Community Workshop

Grownups ask me all the time, “when are you doing a class for us?”

This is it, and it’s FREE. Register here.

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!

Eli

Dr. E Digs Deep – blues roots bring sweet fruits

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.

Dr. E Digs Deep

Barry Harris Birthday Celebration

I am so excited to produce and play for this celebration of my mentor, Barry Harris!

December 15th, 2022 (Barry’s actual birthday!) at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center in Washington Heights and December 18th, 2022 at 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.

What a trip to learn the Charlie I taught years ago in NJ is now a mega-pop star!

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”) Quartet breaking new ground Downstairs at Bond 45

Eli Yamin (aka Dr. “E”), piano and vocals

Zaid Nasser, alto saxophone

Elias Bailey, bass

David F. Gibson, drums

Dr. E in the house!

Dr. Eli Yamin

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!

 

Eli Yamin after Stony Brook University hooding ceremony.

Professor Tom Manuel, Gabriel Vicens (DMA colleague), Eli Yamin, Professor Ray Anderson, director of jazz studies

 

 

Meditations On Integration, my final DMA recital

When the world continues to make little sense and human beings resort to violence against one another, music offers hope, insight, and healing space. Charles Mingus stands as one of America’s greatest 20th century composers and he has few peers in confronting senseless violence with music. April 22, 2022 will be the centennial of his birth.

For the past month, I’ve been immersed in his extended composition, “Mediations On Integration,” otherwise known as “Meditations On A Pair of Wire Cutters,” or “Praying With Eric.” The piece premiered 58 years ago this month in March of 1964 at a concert at Cornell University. It was played and recorded again live at Town Hall in early April followed by an extensive European tour that tragically ended up being Eric Dolphy’s last performances with Mingus. Dolphy died due to medical malpractice in a German hospital two months later. Mingus made a quartet recording of “Mediations” Live at the Jazz Workshop in June of ’64 then re-orchestrated it for eleven pieces to premiere at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September earning an extended standing ovation.

The piece captures some of the intense emotions of the period when peaceful calls for racial justice and equality were often met by hatred and violence. It is unique in its length and its combination of scored material and extended improvisations and iconic in that it previews much of what happened next in jazz. Even so, the piece is not often performed perhaps because of its fluctuating nature. Many live recordings exist and no two of them are close to being the same. In this way it is a perfect jazz work pulling together the known and the unknown, leaving just enough space for the performers to bring their unique take on the music, emotions, social content and present moment.

“Meditations On Integration” is just as potent and relevant now in 2022 as it was in 1964 and we will make our best effort to convey that experience to listeners at my upcoming final concert to earn my Doctorate in Musical Arts (DMA) at Stony Brook University, to be held at The Jazz Loft on April 19th, 2022 on the 58th anniversary of Mingus’ Paris Concert.

For those far away from Stony Brook, stay tuned for information about a second performance of the work that will be streamed on April 22, 2022, the centennial of Charles Mingus’ birth.

Thank you to all my teachers, especially Ray Anderson, director of jazz studies at Stony Brook, for shepherding me through the DMA as well as teaching an old dog some new tricks!

Thank you to my mentors, especially Walter Perkins who first showed me the fire of Mingus as he knew it having played with him on LP Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, as well as Barry Harris, who split the planet this past December but lives on in the work of hundreds of us around the globe doing our best to pass on his rich legacy of music and learning.

And may the music continue to heal us all and keep our spirits up while we strive to make a better world for each other and those coming down the pike.

Hug and help someone soon as you can and I hope to see you soon,

Eli