You Can't Buy Swing
Eli Yamin

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Track Listing
1. I Want To Be A Teacher (6:09)
2. You Can’t Buy Swing (6:28)
3. Getting Somewhere (4:25)
4. Well, You Better Not (5:27)
8. Bop To Normal (5:10)
6. Rwandan Child (8:34)
7. Just One (5:53)
8. Katiana’s New Start (5:54)
9. Jacquet’s Meditation (6:47)
10. Waltz On The Hudson (5:41)
11. In Walked Barry (1:44)

Detailed Description / Musicians
Chris Byars -- sax, flute, conga
Lakecia Benjamin -- sax
Ari Roland -- Bass
Alvin Atkinson -- drums
Eli Yamin -- piano


In 2007, Yamin and two fellow faculty members made
a State Department-sponsored “Rhythm Road” tour,
hitting eight cities around the world in four weeks.
In Mali, bassist Ari Roland, drummer Alvin Atkinson,
and Eli jammed with the Bamako Orchestra.

Their hosts in Kolkata and Chennai, India, invited
them back; Eli returned a year later. In southern China, the band visited Guangzhou and the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu, which was struck by the huge earthquake less than a year later, in May, 2008.
Once home, Eli decided to take the Rhythm Road rhythm section and two favorite saxophonists into a New York recording studio. Chris Byars has been a musician since he was only six years old. Up to age fourteen, he sang with the Metropolitan Opera
chorus. Since he shifted his full attention to jazz, Byars has rediscovered and beautifully arranged music of several not-well-known instrumentalists (currently vibraphonist Teddy Charles), performing alongside these players when possible. Chris moves among projects with the ease he switches instruments; he plays soprano, alto, tenor and flute on the album.

Before teaching at LaGuardia High School, Eli met student saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, and he wanted her on this project too. Lakecia found time between diverse gigs with drummer Rashied Ali, trumpeter Clark Terry, and yes, the artist Prince. She plays lead on the title track, “You Can’t Buy Swing.”

It took just one day in the studio, with no redo’s or overdubs, to record You Can’t Buy Swing. Chris didn’t choose which saxophone to play on which song until the moment. First he plays soprano on “I Want to Be a Teacher.” The title refutes the old saying “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” By the way, drummer Alvin Atkinson prefers a twist on that saying – “When you teach, you learn twice.” Bassist Ari Roland takes a bowed solo, swinging and cool.

“Getting Somewhere” is a new slant on “Out of Nowhere.” Eli wrote it during cancer treatments (successful). Alvin’s drums set up “Bop To Normal,” with Chris on tenor and Ari bowing another solo. “Rwandan Child” is the heart of the album.

I asked Eli how – when in the studio – he holds onto his concentration through complete takes. Wouldn’t it be easy to charge ahead, to stumble? His answer is that the group dynamics carry this band, and “Just One” showcases the interaction. Benjamin plays the
bluesy alto on “Katiana’s New Start,” and Atkinson’s drum solo is so melodic that it could stand alone as a button on a radio show.

Byars delivers a prayer of a tenor solo on the slower “Jacquet’s Meditation.” Yamin plays the foil as Roland has a dialogue between his arco and pizzicato (bowed and plucked) selves. “Waltz on the Hudson” features Byars on flute.

As all these paths converge at one crossing, the story of You Can’t Buy Swing sounds like the work of a gifted organizer, and it is. In fact, Eli reminds me of Pete Seeger. He’s a musician playing for a better world. As talent scout, opportunity-finder, generation-binder, justice-seeker and audience-builder, Eli Yamin doesn’t want to just play for you. He wants
the essence of his jazz to infiltrate your community. He feels that society has undervalued several generations of musicians who created more than music. Why, just last week Eli was teaching non-musicians on the Jazz at Lincoln Center staff to play Latin rhythms – the clave, cascara and tumbao – and then fit the parts together as a model for teamwork.

So yes, you study – if you’re lucky, with a teacher like Eli. You practice and seek the wisdom of elders, you teach to learn from the next generation, you work out your ideas on the bandstand, and .. you take your band into the studio. Lifted by the moment, time begins to move with a new joy. Everybody’s feeling it! and you smile with a serious purpose
because now you know what it means to say YOU CAN’T BUY SWING

Becca Pulliam,
Producer of JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater from NPR
August, 2008

  Available Items by Eli Yamin About Eli Yamin 

Website: http://www.eliyamin.com

Eli Yamin's enthusiasm for music, creativity and community through song permeates his work as a pianist, composer, broadcaster and educator. Through his energy and intellectual curiosity, he brings a freshness and riotous joy. This feeling is very much present in the collectively led trio, Solar, with Adam Bernstein and Andy Demos. Solar's debut CD, Suns of Cosmic Consciousness, on Aztac Records combines the exciting rhythms of Africa, Brazil, Cuba and India in a stimulating m?lange that radiates with a powerful originality. Time Out New York calls Suns of Cosmic Consciousness "ebullient," and the group continues to perform at New York Area clubs such as Sweet Rhythm and Night and Day.

In the late 1990's Eli Yamin spent two years touring internationally with tenor giant Illinois Jacquet and his big band. The experience of playing classic swing arrangements with a living swing master left an indelible impression on Yamin. In 2004, Eli launched the Eli Yamin Orchestra (EYO) specializing in the early music of Count Basie. Later that year the band was featured on "Count Basie Today" with Avery Brooks on National Public Radio's Count Basie Centennial Radio Project. In 2005, EYO played the JVC Jazz Festival in New York City and featured Eli Yamin, Miles Griffith, Harold Ousley, Claire Daly, James Zollar and Brad Leali. Recently the band performed swing arrangements of classic songs from James Bond films. In 2004-2005 The Eli Yamin Quartet with Eli Yamin, Bob Stewart, Kate McGarry and Lafrae Sci presented The Different Moods of the Blues at over 50 schools in the New York City metro area as repertory of The Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education.

In the early 1990's, Eli Yamin was musical director for the 10th Anniversary tour of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies. Working with director/choreographer Mercedes Ellington sparked what has become a driving force in Eli's work as a composer and educator-the marriage of jazz and theatre. Since 1998, Eli Yamin has co-written with Clifford Carlson, five jazz musicals for children. This work led Yamin and Carlson to start The Jazz Drama Program (JDP) , a tax-exempt arts organization, using the language of jazz to tell stories relevant to children's lives. The subjects of the musicals include the fight for Women's Suffrage circa 1920 (Holding the Torch for Liberty), growing up as a contemporary teen (Hear My Voice), the healing power of the blues (Message From Saturn), a modern retelling of Noah's Ark with themes of cooperation, freedom and survival (Nora's Ark), and an interpretation of a traditional African American coming of age folk tale (When Malindy Swings). Each musical runs between 60 and 90 minutes and draws on the vast musical palette of the jazz canon, from Sun Ra, W.C. Handy and Thelonious Monk to Mary Lou Williams, John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong. Numerous schools throughout New York City have produced Yamin/Carlson jazz musicals, thus involving thousands of children and adults in the language of jazz as a magical, immediate and effective way of telling stories. Jazz Times called Message From Saturn by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson, "the hippest move in jazz education, ever!" Scores, scripts and demo recordings of the songs can be found at www.thejazzdramaprogram.org.

As a result of the success of The Jazz Drama Program, Eli Yamin was asked by Jazz at Lincoln Center, under the artistic direction of Wynton Marsalis, to serve as the director of the first Middle School Jazz Academy at Jazz at Lincoln Center. This program is the first time students have been offered ongoing instrumental music instruction at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall, the first world class concert hall built specifically for jazz. In this position Eli has worked closely with Jazz at Lincoln Center staff and adjunct faculty to build the program from the ground up. Eli teaches Listening and Learning with the Jazz Masters and leads the student ensemble in performances both inside and outside of Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall complex. Recently Lynda Lopez on CBS Saturday Morning interviewed Eli about the program as students from the Middle School Jazz Academy performed live on camera, behind the weather report and in and out of commercial breaks. This prompted Lopez to remark, "we should have live jazz on CBS more often!"

In addition to jazz musicals, Eli Yamin's compositions include chamber works as well as scores for dance, radio and film. Claire Daly with Solar recorded his composition, Jacquet's Meditation, a solemn tribute to Illinois Jacquet, on her 2004 release Heaven Help Us All. Rickshaw in The Rain, for clarinet, viola and piano, and inspired by a trip to India, was premiered by the trio, Piaclava, at Weil Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2002. His jazz score for Phil Bertelson's film, Around the Time, about a biracial orphan's search for his birth mother and the 1960's love affair that led to his conception, screened internationally, on public television, and has received acclaim worldwide.

Just at home behind a mic as he is behind the piano, Eli Yamin has produced and hosted countless jazz and blues programs for WBGO/Jazz 88 in Newark, Sirius Satellite Radio and National Public Radio. These programs include Swing Street, Jazz Play, Jazz From the Archives, Portraits in Blue, 88 Alive and Sunday Morning Harmony.

Eli Yamin was born in 1968 in East Patchogue, New York and grew up on Long Island and central New Jersey. In a household of music enthusiasts he heard folk greats Elizabeth Cotten, Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, classics by Bach, Mozart and Sinatra and blues by B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Taj Mahal. As a young man, Yamin always sought out great teachers and studied with Jaki Byard, Kenny Barron, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, John Kamitsuka, John Corigliano and Eleanor Hancock. Eli received invaluable mentorship from drummer Walter Perkins and is a lifelong student of Barry Harris with whom he traveled twice to the Royal Conservatory in the Netherlands for intensive study and performance. Eli received his Bachelor of Arts Degree at Rutgers University and his Master's Degree in Music Education at Lehman College, City University of New York. He has since lectured and led hundreds of workshops on all levels from pre-K through graduate school, as well as staff development for professionals inside and outside of education.

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