July 5, 2015

Welcome to the Jazz Drama Program site!

Our Mission:

The Jazz Drama Program is a non profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to improving young people’s lives and their communities through experiences in jazz and theatre.

What We Do:

1. THE MATERIALS – We write and develop original, age appropriate jazz musicals with engaging stories that incorporate the cathartic power of swing and blues and can be presented by students and community groups anywhere.

2. THE METHODS – We develop and employ unique teaching methods that engage the whole child through immersion in jazz arts including storytelling, acting and dancing, along with healthy and expressive singing guided by the principals of Somatic Voicework, the LoVetri Method.

The Jazz Drama Program (JDP) was founded in 2003 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by jazz musician Eli Yamin and teacher Clifford Carlson to get young people involved in and excited about jazz.  By commissioning new jazz musicals, recording CD’s and distributing scores and scripts and offering professional development for teachers and workshops for students, The Jazz Drama Program is building new audiences and stakeholders in the jazz arts through the mediums of storytelling, music, theatre, dance and visual arts.  To date, Jazz Drama Program musicals have seen over 80 performances in fourteen states and four countries literally involving thousands of young people and their families in sustained exposure and involvement in the jazz arts.

Latest News

Zah! Ensemble 2015 Spring Rehearsals In Session

Zah! Ensemble 2015 Spring Rehearsals in Manhattan with Dance Director Shireen Dickson, Theatre Teaching Artist Katherine Ella Wood, Music Teaching Artists Cindy Hospedales and Judd Nielson and Artistic Director Eli Yamin.

Dancing and Singing Master Class Held

A DANCING & SINGING OPEN JAZZ ARTS MASTER CLASS with teaching artist and Choreographer Shireen Dickson and Artistic Director Eli Yamin was held on February 23 where young performers age 10-17 got to dance, learn improvisation and the keys of singing soulfully in the styles of jazz and blues.

The workshop was be held at Pearl Studios NYC at 519 Eighth Avenue at 36th Street.

Syncopation was the theme for this master class. Great job to everyone who accented the unexpected!

2014 Benefit Concert Digest

The Jazz Drama Program held its Annual Fall Benefit Concert hosted by Rondi Charleston, an Emmy and Peabody Award winning journalist and Motema Music recording artist. The event, which was held on October 7th at The DiMenna Center Concert Hall, raised over $23,000 for the nonprofit’s many programs and services.

The Jazz Drama Program used the occasion to honor WBGO’s Dorthaan Kirk. The widow of jazz saxophone genius Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dorthaan’s deep connections and trust within the jazz community was critical to the launching of WBGO-Jazz 88 in 1979 and to its growth into the country’s premiere jazz radio station.  Dorthaan has worked at WBGO ever since, tirelessly hiring, producing, and publicizing jazz and for over 25 years she has produced the WBGO Children’s Jazz Series. Dorthaan also produces Jazz Vespers at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark and Dorthaan’s Place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

The evening featured performances by Eli Yamin (co-founder and Artistic Director of the Jazz Drama Program), New Orleans style clarinetist extraordinaire Evan Christopher, Catherine Russell (Grammy Award winning jazz and blues vocalist) backed by the Eli Yamin Trio. Catherine Russell and Evan Christopher performed the song Eli and Evan wrote called “Let His Love Take Me Higher” and “It’s the Way That You Talk,” from The Jazz Drama Program musical, Holding the Torch For Liberty.

The evening also featured very special performances by the Jazz Drama Program Vocal Ensemble, a group of students who on scholarship received extensive training through the Jazz Drama Program’s unique vocal workshops. The training and rehearsals culminated in singing at the recording session of the cast recording for the Jazz Drama Program’s musical, Message From Saturn. Their vocal talents were on display as they performed “Bright Moments” for Dorthaan Kirk, the honoree.  The song was written by Dorthaan’s late husband, the genius saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk with lyrics by Todd Barkan, the legendary producer and jazz soul keeper who was in attendance for the benefit.

As a surprise bonus, there was a premiere screening of a 5-minute short by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Phil Bertelsen whose crew documented the vocal recording session with the students at Avatar Studios.

After a dynamic rendition of “Music Holds the Key” from Message From Saturn performed by NYU Freshman Andrew Farella, board Member Jeanie LoVetri, founder of Somatic Voicework, the Lovetri Method™, gave a passionate and eloquent speech about why it is so important to support The Jazz Drama Program, pointing to the young talent on stage.

For the grand finale, the Jazz Drama Program Ensemble students brought everyone to their feet to join in on The Jazz Drama Program classic, also from Message From Saturn, “A Healing Song.”

Proceeds from the benefit will allow The Jazz Drama Program to complete and release the cast recording of Message from Saturn and to hold another series of vocal workshops for the next class of up & coming vocal talent from the Tri-State area.

We are all very grateful for your attendance at the Benefit Concert and for your generous contributions. The Benefit Concert was chaired by Kareen Laton.