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!
It was an honor and joy to work with Trineice Robinson, “Dr. Trineice,” as she is known in the music education world where she is a leading voice teacher in African American singing, the author of So You Want to Sing Gospel: A Guide For Professionals (published by Rowman and Littlefield in collaboration with National Association of Teachers of Singing), founder and director of Soul Ingredients , a college professor and Executive Director of the African American Jazz Caucus. I was so happy to be able to produce this streaming concert with Jazz Power Initiative, the National Jazz Museum and Jazzcorner while also featuring saxophonist, arranger, educator Don Braden, bassist Paul Beaudry, drummer Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax, and yours truly on piano and special guests including JPI Teaching Artist Victoria Ortiz and Trineice’s daughter on bass!
In between songs, Trineice talked about her work as a musician, education and leader in our community. I was particularly knocked out by these remarks:
“Being able to be a culture bearer…let me show you there’s a scientific aspect to this but there’s also a cultural element that you need to know that is quite nuanced that if you limit it to just the notes you’re going to miss the point. So I tend to bring the cultural elements into everything that I’m doing. Awareness of legacy is important…with the African American Jazz Caucus…and I see Dr. Larry [Ridley] here in the audience…I took Dr. Larry’s place as Executive Director [African American Jazz Caucus]…it’s all about creating legacies, it’s about maintaining, supporting legacies, promoting jazz, promoting the present of jazz, promoting the future of jazz, and really bringing this rich heritage to generation and generation. So, sharing cultural identity, cultural memory, is very important in my teaching. But most importantly understanding that this way of teaching, this methodology of teaching is really about making sure that the person, you are your unique voice, and how do you bring these culture bearers with you along your journey and have them help you support what you have to say and tell your stories.” Dr. Trineice Robinson, featured artist on Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam.
Jazz Power Initiative at Summerfest/Jazzmobile 2021 by Jim Cummins
What a tremendous way to emerge from quarantine with our Harlem premiere of Message From Saturn, the jazz musical about discovering and sharing the healing power of the blues. Our Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam: Message From Saturn concert was presented this past Friday at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, New York City by Jazzmobile’s Summerfest, to 1000+ audience members who responded with a standing ovation for our multi-generational cast of musicians, dancers, and actors from ages 10-68.
Photos by Jim Cummins
Directed by singer, actor, dancer and producer Ty Stephens, Message from Saturn was introduced by Jazzmobile veteran vocalist Antoinette Montague and select members of Jazz Power Initiative’s youth program with a 100th Birthday Tribute to Jazzmobile’s founder, Dr. Billy Taylor with choreography by Mickey Davidson.
Zah! Jazz Power Youth, our advanced training ensemble led the company to tell the story of three young people who go on a mission to outer space to learn how to heal the universe by tapping into the strength of blues rhythm, groove, harmony, melody, and emotional expression. On their journey, they encountered and learned from the musicians including Sun Ra Arkestra veteran saxophonist Knoel Scott.
Along the way, the youth were guided by flaming asteroids including Zah! member Joie St. Hubert on violin and voice and Terese Francois who doubled as the narrator. Kimberly Teyengua played the role of Mary, leader of the Zodiac club. Kimberly is currently a rising senior at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. She is also an alum of Louis Armstrong Middle School where Message From Saturn by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson was first presented in 2001!
Swing dancers Candice Franklin and Sam Coleman gave the children a lesson in groove and drummer David F. Gibson relayed wisdom about the power of the beat.
Zah! member Jonathan Hernandez-Jimenez in the role of the sage Bebe brought down the house with his guidance in “Music Holds the Key” and Zah! member Marquise Neal was joined by JPI Teaching Artist Victoria Ortiz for the romantic duet “You Can Call Me Louise.”
We are so grateful to have had this opportunity to cap our season of tremendous growth during a most challenging time of pandemic. We thank all of our sponsors, board members, and individual supporters who make this work possible. We thank all the artists, parents, and students who devote countless hours toward honing their craft and sharing their best in support of our community. Finally, we thank Jazzmobile, the oldest nonprofit organization founded by a jazz musician and still running strong for nearly 60 years! Thank you for blazing the trail, believing in us, and welcoming us to your sacred stage in the historic Marcus Garvey Park. We will treasure this experience forever and continue to work hard toward spreading love for this tremendous art form – jazz.
Have a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing you in the fall when we resume our youth education and community programs LIVE IN PERSON.
This song “Catch You the Next Time (for Bob Porter)”, is dedicated to Grammy Award-winning record producer, heralded jazz and blues authority and author, legendary WBGO announcer, Bob Porter, passed away on April 10, 2021. I had the good fortune to work with him for eight years as his producer on Portraits in Blue and learned a ton listening to the blues with him. I decided to dedicate this song to Bob (originally titled “The Way Things Are Now” inspired by Ellington’s “Things Ain’t the Way They Used To Be”) just before this performance and both bassist Lonnie Plaxico and saxophonist Jon Irabagon immediately got in the spirit. Everybody in jazz knows Bob Porter and his theme, “Bolo Blues” by Jimmy Forrest. Jon Irabagon immediately started quoting Forrest…I didn’t even realize it until after the fact. Jon’s a lot quicker than me no doubt. And still, I’m so glad we got to play this tribute to the mind behind Portraits in Blue. Bob helped shape our ears and hearts for the blues for years to come! And we will always remember Bob’s famous sign off when we play “Catch You the Next Time.”
Produced by: Jazz Power Initiative, in partnership with The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
Jon Irabagon, saxophone, composer
Lonnie Plaxico, bass
Eil Yamin, piano
Rafael Gell, videographer
Jeff Jones ” The Jedi Master”, audio producer
Jonathan Hernandez-Jimenez, assistant audio producer, video editor
Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam will stream live on Sunday, May 9 at 3pm from Upper Manhattan.New York City, April 21, 2021 –Jazz Power Initiative (JPI) continues its 2021 season of INTERGENERATIONAL JAZZ POWER JAM on Sunday, May 9, 2021 at 3 PM EST on Facebook Live and YouTube. In collaboration with The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, “Creativity, Community and Connection” is our May Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam. In collaboration with The National Jazz Museum in Harlem and Jazzcorner, “Creativity, Community and Connection” – our May 2021 Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam is produced by Jazz Power Initiative, the uptown New York City based non-profit organization transforming lives through jazz arts education and community programs.Tune in through Facebook and YouTube Live at jazzpower.org/powerjam2021 at 3 PM EST.Hosted by Jazz Power Initiative’s Managing and Artistic Director Eli Yamin, our May Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam is a fun,family-friendly celebration featuring performances by Jon Irabagon, (saxophone),Lonnie Plaxico (bass) and Eli Yamin (piano). For our audiences of all ages: Help us to showcase you at the May Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam!PASS THE MICDancers, musicians, singers, and poets are all invited to participate by submitting a video from 10 seconds to 3 minutes here, to spotlight their own Creativity, Community and ConnectionWith our thanks to our supporters: The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with the New York City Council and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez; the Hispanic Federation; The Miranda Family Fund; The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; The 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’s individual supporters. Chicago-born, first generation Filipino-American Jon Irabagonis one of the most diverse saxophonists, bandleaders and composers of his generation, intensely studying the jazz tradition while championing and embracing experimental and modern atonal directions in his bands. Irabagon has been an integral member of many of today’s notable ensembles, including the Dave Douglas Quintet, the Mary Halvorson Quintet, Septet and Octet, Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor, Ralph Alessi’s This Against That and Moppa Elliott’s Mostly Other People do the Killing. He has also shared the stage with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Kenny Wheeler, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Barry Harris and many more. He has over a dozen albums as a leader ranging from solo saxophone outings through to large ensemble compositions, with most of his albums being released by his own record label Irabbagast Records. Irabagon has been honored with grants and support from New Jazz Works at Chamber Music America, a touring grant from the Jazz Roads program from South Arts and an international touring grant from USArtists as well as commissions from the Shifting Foundation and the Stone at National Sawdust Commissioning Series. Jon Irabagon
The middle child in a family of musicians, Chicago-born bassist Lonnie Plaxico inherited a gift for music that was discovered and nurtured early. By the age of twelve he had taught himself to play the electric bass, and he was soon venturing into Chicago’s music scene, renowned for its mix of jazz, funk and blues. It was not long before the young musician made his first recording, featuring his family’s band. At the age of just fourteen, having already performed alongside several prominent Chicago jazz figures, Lonnie Plaxico turned professional, playing the electric and acoustic bass with equal facility.In 1980 Plaxico moved to New York and soon began to appear with such artists as Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon and Wynton Marsalis. His first extended tenure was with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: between 1983 and 1986, Lonnie performed on twelve of Blakey’s albums, including the Grammy Award–winning, New York Scene. In 1986 he joined Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, continuing with that group until 1993. Presently, Plaxico is the musical director and featured bassist for Cassandra Wilson; their critically acclaimed and award-winning collaboration has now spanned fifteen years.Plaxico’s recording and performance catalog is equally impressive for its caliber, depth and diversity. He has appeared with such luminaries as Sonny Sitt, Junior Cook, David Murray, Alice Coltrane, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Sample, Abbey Lincoln, and Dizzy Gillespie. Just as noteworthy are his performances with younger artists — among them Steve Coleman, Rachelle Farrell and Dianne Reeves. Lonnie has also recorded with Bill Cosby, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ravi Coltrane and Barbara Dennerlein, as well as his Grammy-winning collaborations with Art Blakey and Cassandra Wilson. He has also recorded 13 critically acclaimed albums as leader: Plaxico (1989), Iridescence (1990), Short Takes (1992), With all Your Heart (1993), Emergence (2000), Rhythm and Soul (2003), Live at the Jazz Standard (2004), Live At The 5:01 Jazz Bar (2002), Mélange (2001), So Alive (2004), West Side Stories (2006), and Ancestral Devotions (2009).Lonnie Plaxico’s musicianship is probably best expressed in his masterful integration of different forms — combining the rigorous technique of classical, the improvisation of jazz, and the rawness of funk into one exhilarating musical experience.Lonnie PlaxicoLonnie Plaxico
Pianist, composer, host and producer Eli Yamin has dedicated his life to performing, teaching and building community through jazz. He has performed and toured as a jazz ambassador for the United States in over 25 countries, and at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the White House. He co-founded and now directs Jazz Power Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming lives through jazz arts education and performance. His three youth–centered musicals have been performed internationally and across the U.S. includingMessage From Saturn, about the healing power of the blues, to be presented with Jazzmobile this summer. Eli’s book, So You Want to Sing the Blues: A Guide For Performers was published in collaboration with the National Association of Teacher of Singing (NATS). He holds a Masters in Music Education from Lehman College, City University of New York and is working towards his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Stony Brook, State University of New York.About Jazz Power InitiativeJazz Power Initiative (JPI) is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2003. Jazz Power serves thousands of 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 and performing artists who are award-winning jazz, theater and dance professionals, JPI offers multidisciplinary training, scholarships and performance opportunities to New York City youth, ages 8-22, 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 hundreds of 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 workshops at the United Palace; our monthly Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem; local community senior center workshops, and our annual Jazz Power Summer Institute at Lehman College (CUNY) for artists and educators.About The National Jazz Museum in HarlemThe 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.Media Contact: Janny Gonzalez, JPI Director of Business Affairs(917) email@example.comFollow us!Facebook: fb.com/jazzpowerinitiative Instagram: @jazzpowerinitiativeWeb: jazzpower.org###Eli Yamin (photo by Ayano Hisa)
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.
Name: Janny Gonzalez
Title: Director of Business Affairs
Phone: (917) 818-1759
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.