Eli Yamin

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About Eli Yamin


As a pianist:

Eli Yamin, a Steinway artist, is an internationally acclaimed jazz and blues pianist, singer, composer and bandleader. As a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State, Eli has performed with his quartet and his blues band in Mali, India, China, Brazil, Chile and the Balkans. In the past year he has performed at venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center (New York City), Blues Alley, (Washington D.C.), Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival (Moscow, Idaho), The Riley Center (Meridian, Mississippi) and the Cultural Arts Center (Podgorica, Montenegro). He has appeared several times at the Obama White House.

His quartet’s acclaimed CD, You Can’t Buy Swing, airs nationally on Sirius XM and his new Blues Band recording, I Feel So Glad, has just been released.

As a composer:

Eli composes lyrics and melody, such as “A Healing Song,” about the healing power of the blues and “Rwandan Child” reflecting the wisdom and importance of our children. He has also written scores for films such as Phil Bertelson’s Around the Time and chamber music, Rickshaw in the Rain for clarinet, viola and piano, by Pia Clava, premiering at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Eli, with Clifford Carlson, has co-written five jazz musicals for children, including Message From Saturn about the blues and Nora’s Ark, a retelling of the biblical tale with swing, bebop and the blues. He recently released a CD of Nora’s Ark featuring his quintet and the Grammy Award Winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus produced by The Jazz Drama Program. He lives in New York City with his wife Lorraine and daughter Manika.
As an educator:

Eli Yamin co-founded and serves as artistic director of The Jazz Drama Program, a non-profit 501c3 organization that creates, records and licenses original jazz musicals for children to perform for their peers. Eli is also the head of instruction at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy and, as training specialist, designs and delivers workshops for artists, teachers and executives, in association with Fordham Graduate School of Business.

Early Career:

Eli was born in 1968 in East Patchogue, Long Island and grew up in a house full of music enthusiasts. He heard folk greats Elizabeth Cotten, Pete Seeger, Arlo Gurthrie; classics by Bach, Mozart, Sinatra; and blues by B. B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Taj Majal. He spent his first 10 years as a young professional pianist working with masters such as drummer Walter Perkins and saxophonist Illinois Jacquet. On the bandstand, Eli absorbed the blues into every molecule of his being playing with Walter Perkins. He learned how you play the blues to make people feel good. On the road in Europe with Illinois Jacquet’s Big Band, Eli deepened his knowledge of swing, drama, the power of the big band and being well prepared. Eli also worked closely with director/choreographer Mercedes Ellington when, at 24, he served as musical director/pianist for the tenth anniversary tour of Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies. As a radio producer and announcer for WBGO he met countless other legends, interviewing them, and learning valuable life lessons.

Eli Yamin joined the JazzTimes community on Jul 03, 2011