June 26, 2017


Eli Yamin (Artist Director and Founding Board President)

Eli Yamin is Artistic Director of The Jazz Drama Program and head of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy. He is a jazz and blues pianist, composer, singer, educator, broadcaster, and Steinway artist. After participating last spring in the first White House Jazz Studio hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, Eli was invited back three times to perform music from his latest CD, You Can’t Buy Swing, in the East Room.

eli.jazzdrama.159.wEli has also performed at top concert halls and festivals in Western Europe and the United States and in Brazil, Chile, Mali, India, China and the Balkans as a cultural ambassador touring on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. Eli teaches jazz worldwide to business leaders, middle school students, K-12 teachers, college professors and performing artists. He is a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts, Fordham University Graduate School of Business and WBGO Radio.

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.

Eli’s jazz musicals for children have been performed for thousands by hundreds of young people. They include Message From Saturn, a space odyssey about the healing power of the blues and Nora’s Ark, a modern retelling of the biblical tale. The CD of Nora’s Ark, the jazz musical by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson will be released this fall – a collaboration between The Jazz Drama Program and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy of New York City.

Eli has played and taught with Barry Harris, Walter Perkins, Illinois Jacquet, Wynton Marsalis, Perry Robinson, Kate McGarry, Claire Daly, Ari Roland, Chris Byars, Evan Christopher and Bob Stewart. Eli holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Lehman College, City University of New York and lives (with his wife and young daughter) in New York City.

Clifford Carlson (Co-Author)

Clifford CarlsonClifford Carlson is a writer and co-founder of The Jazz Drama Program.  In college, he was mentored by author Virginia Hamilton and later studied under playwright Tina Howe. Early in his career he collaborated with Touchstone Center for Poetry founder Richard Lewis and for ten years studied at The Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education. In 1990, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Children’s Theatre which was spent in residence with The British American Youth Festival Theater under the direction of actor/director Robert Shampain.

He and jazz composer and educator, Eli Yamin co-founded The Jazz Drama Program (JDP). The JDP is a non-profit arts education program that combines jazz music and theater to create lasting, formative experiences for young people. In the process of creating five original jazz musicals, (Nora’s Ark, Holding the Torch for Liberty, Hear My Voice, Message from Saturn and When Malindy Swings) Clifford and Eli have developed new pedagogical practices in the field of jazz education. By combining jazz music and storytelling, the duo have brought their groundbreaking new concepts in arts education to thousands of children.