New York City, March 2, 2021 – Jazz Power Initiative (JPI) continues its 2021 season of INTERGENERATIONAL JAZZ POWER JAM on Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 3 PM EST on Facebook Live and YouTube, in collaboration with The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, with “Swinging Into Spring Dance Jam,” showcasing the art of improvisation and featuring acclaimed dancers and choreographers Mickey Davidson, Shireen Dickson, Ximena Salgado, and Max Pollak. Audiences of all ages are invited to participate!
Hosted by Jazz Power Initiative’s Managing and Artistic Director Eli Yamin, March’s Intergenerational Jazz Power Dance Party Jam is a fun, friendly-family celebration featuring performances by the duos of dancer Mickey Davidson and pianist Frank Owens; dancer Ximena Salgado and percussionist Annette A. Aguilar; dancer Max Pollak and bassist Jennifer Vincent; dancer Shireen Dickson and pianist Eli Yamin.
Celebrating the creative, improvisational experience between diverse musical and dance traditions of the African diaspora, these intergenerational performances reflect its wide range and vitality across the Americas today, from swing and tap to mambo and merengue, with insightful conversation about how music is made for dance.
For our audiences of all ages:
Help us showcase your moves at March’s Intergenerational Jazz Power Dance Jam!
Dancer, musicians, singers, and poets are invited to participate in our jam dance party by submitting a video from 10 seconds, to up to 3 minutes here, to highlight.
Supporters: New York City Council and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez; the Hispanic Federation; The Miranda Family Fund; The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; New York State Council for the Arts; The National Jazz Museum in Harlem; The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; and Jazz Power Initiative individual supporters.
Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam will stream live on Sunday, February 14th at 3pm from Upper Manhattan.
New York City, February 8, 2021 – Jazz Power Initiative (JPI), a not-for-profit organization, continues its 2021 season of INTERGENERATIONAL JAZZ POWER JAM on Sunday, February 14th, 2021 at 3 PM EST on Facebook Live and YouTube in collaboration with The National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
Hosted by Jazz Power Initiative’s Managing Artistic Director Eli Yamin, this Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam will feature a duo performance by Chris Byars and Eli Yamin as well as lively conversation about Byars’ current work as Team Leader for NYC Test and Trace Team 76 and recorded video performances from Byars colorful career, spanning from a Bud Powell commission for the WDR Big Band to a guest appearance with an Algerian expat folk orchestra performing in Algeria for the first time in over 50 years.
Composer and saxophonist Chris Byars has released 15 CD’s as a leader and toured over 50 countries as a jazz ambassador. His segment will be followed a Jam featuring performances by artists of all ages including Byars’ saxophone student from Lebanon performing Thelonious Monk’s favorite hymn “Abide With Me” in honor of Black History Month.
To submit a video of a music, dance or poetry performance for the Jam up to 5 minutes, artists of all ages can fill out this survey here.
“As the pandemic continues we are encouraged by community minded artists like Chris Byars who use their music and other skills to uplift spirits and lend a hand to those who need it most.” Eli Yamin, pianist and Artistic Director of Jazz Power Initiative.
New York City Council and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez; the Hispanic Federation The Miranda Family Fund; The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; New York State Council for the Arts; The National Jazz Museum in Harlem; The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; and Jazz Power Initiative individual supporters.
Chris Byars is an award-winning saxophonist, bandleader, arranger/composer, conductor, and educator based in New York City. He has been performing festivals, concerts, educational workshops, and jazz clubs since 1987. His 15th commercially-released CD as a leader, On the Shoulders of Giants, was released in March 2020.
A frequent guest of German Radio Jazz Orchestras, he was recently the arranger for WDR Big Band’s Tribute to Bud Powell, starring guitarist Pasquale Grasso in April 2019, and NDR Big Band’s Bird @100 in August 2020. He has composed extended works for WDR, NDR, Riverdale Sinfonietta, Harlem in the Himalayas, and the Chamber Music America New Works Program.
As a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, Chris has traveled to over 50 countries. His most memorable performance was with the Algerian folk group El Gusto! who invited him as a special guest in their 2015 Homecoming Concert in Algiers.
Faced with the total shutdown of live performances, Chris turned to civil service in 2020, fulfilling roles as Census Enumerator, Election Day Spanish Interpreter, and Bilingual Contact Tracer. Chris currently works as Team Leader for NYC Test and Trace Team 76, interviewing New York City residents to elicit information about close contacts and provide support for their households.
In addition to his own groups, Chris Byars has performed extensively with the Ari Roland Quartet, John Pizzarelli, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, John Mosca, Neal Miner, Lapis Luna, Eli Yamin, John Colianni, Zaid Nasser, Chris Flory, and John Marshall. He has also served as musical director for Bryant Park’s Christmas Skate-tacular (2016-2018), and performed with Wynton Marsalis, Teddy Charles, Hilary Kole, Joe Lovano, Betty Carter, Jerry Dodgion, Barry Harris, Lou Donaldson, Leroy Williams, Frank Hewitt, Jimmy Lovelace, Charles Davis, David Berger, Vince Giordano, John Hicks, and Freddie Redd.
Eli Yamin, a community-oriented pianist, composer and educator based in Upper Manhattan has performed as a jazz and blues ambassador for the United States, in over 25 countries and in the U.S. at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the White House. His recordings include You Can’t Buy Swing with his jazz quartet; I Feel So Glad, with his blues band; Louie’s Dream, with New Orleans-based clarinetist Evan Christopher, and Live In Burghausen with jazz icon, Illinois Jacquet. His three youth-centered musicals: Nora’s Ark on climate crisis and collaboration, Holding the Torch For Liberty about women’s rights and Message From Saturn, about the healing power of the blues have been performed internationally in four languages and across the U.S., bringing diverse communities together through jazz and blues to tell socially uplifting stories. Eli is the co-founder and Managing Artistic Director of Jazz Power Initiative and the author of So You Want to Sing the Blues: A Guide For Performers published by Rowman and Littlefield in collaboration with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).
About Jazz Power Initiative
Jazz Power Initiative (JPI), a non profit, 501 (c) (3) organization since 2003, serves over 3100 New Yorkers and visitors annually – students, teachers, artists, seniors and general audiences, ages 8-80+, to promote youth development, and build more creative and inclusive communities through jazz music, theater and dance education and performance. Led by highly experienced teaching artists who are award-winning jazz, theater and dance professionals, JPI offers multidisciplinary training, scholarships and performance opportunities to New York City youth, ages 8-19, from every economic and social milieu at low or no cost to families, with extended outreach to students in under-served New York City public schools in Northern Manhattan. We currently engage over 500 students and their teachers annually, providing after-school instruction mainly in Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood (where our offices are located) and the Bronx. Our programs include after-school youth masterclasses at the United Palace; our monthly Jazz Power Jam at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem; local community senior center workshops, and our annual Jazz Power Institute at Lehman College (CUNY) for artists and educators.
About The National Jazz Museum
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem is a thriving center for jazz that stimulates hearts and minds, and reaches out to diverse audiences to enjoy this quintessential American music. The Museum is committed to keeping jazz present and exciting in the lives of a broad range of audiences — young and old, novice and scholar, artist and patron, enthusiast and curious listener. Each year, the Museum produces and presents nearly 100 free programs in New York City, engages hundreds of professional jazz artists and reaches nearly 20,000 people from around the world.
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I’m so excited and honored to perform at the Clean Energy For America Inaugural Ball tomorrow night in the Virtual Jazz Club following speeches on clean energy and greening our country. My longtime and dear colleagues Antoinette Montague, Lakecia Benjamin, Jennifer Vincent, and Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax, will be joining me along with two members of Zah! Jazz Power Youth, my longtime students Terese Francois and Jonathan Hernandez-Jimenez, who is also doing a heroic job as our assistant producer, audio engineer and video editor. I’m grateful to my cousin Dan Reicher for recommending me for this incredible opportunity and the Board and Staff of Jazz Power Initiative for their support.
Years ago I had the good fortune to correspond with Dave Brubeck. He wrote to me with very encouraging words for my work in education. It meant a lot to me and still does. In 2014, producer Seton Hawkins of Jazz at Lincoln Center asked me to create a series of fun and informative performance/education videos for their online Jazz Academy. As Brubeck’s legacy at 100 is honored all over the world, here are 7 takes on some of his most well-known compositions. Please enjoy and share with a teacher you know so more people around the world will get to know and love the artistry and soulfulness of this magnificent pianist, composer, and bandleader.
In partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Stony Brook University, Eli Yamin presents:
Eli Yamin: Solo Piano
Live Stream from Eli’s Living Room, Inwood, New York City
Well You Needn’t by Thelonious Monk (1917-1982)
Remember Rockefeller at Attica by Charles Mingus (1922-1979)
Shelter in Place by Eli Yamin (1968-)
Light Blue by Thelonious Monk
Free Improvisation #1
Lift Every Voice and Sing by J. Rosamund Johnson (1873-1954)
Adagio cantabile, Pathetique Op.13 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Crepuscule With Nellie by Thelonious Monk
Free Improvisation #2
Monk’s Point by Thelonious Monk
Evidence by Thelonious Monk
Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk
Maple Leaf Ray based on Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin (1868-1917)
I Cover the Waterfront by Johnny Green (1908-1989), made famous by Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
Me and Lulu by Eli Yamin
Eli Yamin – Managing Artistic Director @Jazz Power Initiative Eli Yamin, an imaginative and community-oriented pianist and composer from New York, has performed with his jazz quartet and blues band as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State in Albania, Brazil, Chile, China, Greece, Guatemala, India, Mali, Montenegro, Romania, and Russia. A Steinway Artist, Yamin has also performed at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and scores of international festivals including The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, The St. Petersburg Jazz Festival in Russia, The Guatemala Jazz Festival in Guatemala City and Jazz in Marciac in France. He also appeared several times with his band at the Obama White House. Eli’s recordings include You Can’t Buy Swing with his jazz quartet; I Feel So Glad, with his blues band; Louie’s Dream, dedicated to “our jazz heroes,” with New Orleans-based clarinetist Evan Christopher, Live In Burghausen with jazz icon, Illinois Jacquet and Message From Saturn, a jazz musical about the healing power of the blues he co-wrote that was inspired by Sun Ra and Mary Lou Williams. Mr. Yamin was the musical director for the 10th Anniversary tour of Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, directed by Mercedes Ellington, and serves on the board of The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts. He is also the co-founder and Managing Artistic Director of The Jazz Power Initiative, a non-profit organization that transforms lives through jazz arts education and performance. The author of So You Want To Sing The Blues: A Guide for Performers, published by Rowman and Littlefield in collaboration with The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Yamin is working towards his Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University, The State University of New York.
Enid Farber took this photo when I was 21 and working my first professional jazz job at WBGO Jazz 88.3. I was a Board Operator, sub DJ and producer of Jazz From the Archives hosted by the staff of the Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies and Portraits in Blue with Bob Porter. l was incredibly fortunate to learn from mentors Dorthaan Kirk, Wylie Rollins, James Browne, Michael D. Anderson, Rhonda Hamilton Carvin, Becca Pulliam, Gary Walker, Chico Mendoza, Larry D’Albero, Duke Markos, Alfredo Cruz, Paul Fowlie, Jim Anderson, Loren Schoenberg, Dan Morgenstern, Vincent Pelote, Ed Berger, Bob Porter, and the many artists who came through. Working at WBGO was an essential part of my journey to make a career in the arts and I do my best to pass along what I’ve learned to the next generation through Jazz Power Initiative. In addition, I wrote a blog for parents of children who set out for careers in the arts. Even in hard times like these, I say to parents of young people who strike out on this path. “It’s okay, it’s okay. This world needs the beauty, creativity, unity and strength your son/daughter offers, now more than ever. Just help them be prepared to be flexible, pay some dues, and listen carefully. In this way they will know how best to be of service to the community and keep working.”
Eli Yamin presenting at Maxine Greene Institute at The New School, NYC. Photo by Holly Fairbank
“I hope you think about the wonder of multiple perspectives in your own experience. I hope you think about what happens to you when it becomes possible to abandon one-dimensional viewing, to look from many vantage points and, in doing so, construct meanings scarcely suspected before… Our object…where young people are concerned, is to provide increasing numbers of opportunities for tapping into long unheard frequencies, for opening new perspectives on a world increasingly shared. It seems to me that we can only do so with regard for the situated lives of diverse children and respect for the differences in their experiences.” Maxine Greene, Variations on a Blue Guitar (pp. 187, 189)
It was an honor to present a lecture at the Maxine Greene Institute at The New School this past Sunday, December 15. The event was organized by my dear colleagues Holly Fairbank, Heidi Upton and Jean Taylor who serve on the board of The Greene Institute and remain actively involved in educating people around the world about Greene’s essential work.
The lecture gave me a precious opportunity to look back at the past 20 years of my teaching practice since I met Maxine Greene at Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education in 1999. I was invigorated to see the fruits of seeds she planted with her words, concepts, and models expressed by my students. This is certainly true at Jazz Power Initiative, the organization I co-founded in 2003 and continue to lead. I was happy to share the breadth of our work in this video by Josh Robertson with supervision from Emmy Award Winner, Phil Bertelsen:
I also took some time to review the work I did at Jazz at Lincoln Center when I served as founding Director of the Middle School Jazz Academy and led the program from 2005-2016. Luckily, I came across two videos that boldly illustrate what we accomplished in my time there–the active marriage of skills-based and aesthetic-based arts education through jazz.
The first video from 2014 shows my 11-13-year-old students performing Perdido. This song was composed by Juan Tizol (from Puerto Rico) and made famous by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The arrangement showcases the peak of what these students can play in an ensemble as well as multiple short solos in quick sequence giving multiple perspectives/experiences on the solo art of jazz. The students in this video had been playing a range of 6 months to 2 years when they recorded it. Their progress in that short amount of time is remarkable.
The following video shows many of these same students performing free improvisations in front of abstract works of art by extraordinary African American painters on display at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. The video is 10 minutes and if you hang in there until the end, you will hear amazingly rich comments from the students on their experience at the gallery. At the Maxine Greene Institute presentation, this was the highlight. It’s what we live for in Aesthetic Education–students from diverse backgrounds articulating their experience of complex works of art, taking their own perspective seriously and expressing their intelligence and sensitivity around peers and elders with poise and confidence. Wow, wow, wow…enjoy and please let me know what you think!
Happy Holidays and may 2020 bring new openings and imaginative breakthroughs!
It’s amazing to see this dream come this far–Jazz Power Initiative, the non profit I co-founded in 2003 with Clifford Carlson, is turning 15 years old. Jazz Power is one feisty teenager, let me tell you. Based in upper Manhattan, our uptown programs in Harlem and Washington Heights are thriving with 30 teens receiving scholarships to attend our 12-week training in piano keyboard, singing, dancing and acting. We also continue to host our monthly Intergenerational Jazz Jams at National Jazz Museum in Harlem on the second Sunday and we are gearing up for our 5th Annual Jazz Power Institute, a two-day training for artists and teachers on teaching jazz across the curriculum.
I’ve turned 50 this year and take great delight in seeing youngsters coming up through our programs, embracing jazz culture and sharing the responsibility to spread the brilliance of this music to the next generation as well as our elders. Together we are doing all we can to make a positive difference in the world by bringing joy and fellowship through music. I hope you can join us at our 15th Anniversary Celebration, or another one of our programs or by making a financial contribution to this work I hold so dear at Jazz Power Initiative.