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,


Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam Holiday Celebration!

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. 

Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam with Trineice Robinson, Executive Director of African American Jazz Caucus

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.


Eli presenting “Calibrating the Canon” at JEN National Conference in Dallas in January 2022

DMA Recital #4 Eli Yamin, piano and Curtis Stewart, violin

Jazzmobile/Summerfest 2021!

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.

Eli Yamin

Managing and Artistic Director

Jazz Power Initiative

“Catch You the Next Time (for Bob Porter)” by Eli Yamin

(photo by Linda Porter)

YouTube Preview Image

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: Creativity, Community and Connection

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 Awardwinning, 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 youthcentered 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 afterschool 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) 818-1759info@jazzpower.orgFollow us!Facebook: fb.com/jazzpowerinitiative Instagram: @jazzpowerinitiativeWeb: jazzpower.org###Eli Yamin (photo by Ayano Hisa)