Jazz and Creative Music Ensemble Showcase

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Banff Jazz participants perform.

Photo by Jessica Wittman.

Co-Artistic Directors Vijay Iyer and Tyshawn Sorey lead world-renowned faculty and participants through an evening of jazz and creative music exploration.

Featuring Mimi Jones, Matana Roberts, Amir ElSaffar, HPrizm, and Carmen Lundy.


TD Bank Group is the generous lead supporter of the

Banff International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music.

Vijay Iyer

Artistic Director

Composer-pianist VIJAY IYER (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) has carved out a unique path as an influential, prolific, and shape-shifting presence in modern music. He was described by Pitchfork as "one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today," by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He received a MacArthur Fellowship, a U.S. Artists Fellowship, the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. He was recently voted the 2018 Jazz Artist of the Year in the DownBeat International Critics’ Poll (his fourth time receiving that honor), and the 2018 Artist of the Year in the JazzTimes Critics’ and Readers’ Polls. His recent releases on ECM Records include Far From Over (2017) with his sextet, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (2016) in duo with Wadada Leo Smith, and Break Stuff (2015) with his trio. His compositions have been premiered by International Contemporary Ensemble, Brentano Quartet, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, So Percussion, Matt Haimovitz, and Jennifer Koh. He holds a lifetime appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University. He is a Steinway artist. 


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Tyshawn Sorey

Co-Artistic Director

Tyshawn Sorey is a composer and musician whose music assimilates and transforms ideas from a broad spectrum of musical idioms and defies distinctions between genres, composition, and improvisation in a singular expression of contemporary music. Sorey was recently named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow and a 2018 United States Artists Fellow. The Spektral Quartet, Ojai Music Festival, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Miller Theater, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Opera Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, and Jack Quartet, among many other ensembles and venues, have commissioned his works. He has also released six critically acclaimed recordings that feature his work as a composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist and conceptualist. As a collaborator he has performed and recorded with many leading creative music figures and contemporary/new music ensembles such as Roscoe Mitchell, Steve Coleman, Muhal Richard Abrams, Vijay Iyer, Anthony Braxton, Ensemble Intercontemporain, John Zorn, Wadada Leo Smith, Butch Morris, Myra Melford, George Lewis, the Lucerne Festival Players, Ikue Mori, WildUp Ensemble, Steve Lehman, Claire Chase, and Marilyn Crispell, among many others. Sorey is an Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, specializing in creative improvised and avant-garde musical performance practices.

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Mimi Jones

Bass | Composition

For the more than two decades she’s been on the scene, bassist/vocalist/producer/label owner and now filmmaker Mimi Jones has reigned supreme, as a side woman to an impressive coterie of musicians and as a leader with three CDs on her own label, (Hot Tone Music) featuring the Mimi Jones Band.

Her newest release for the label, Feet in the Mud, is her most powerful, recording to date. “Feet in the Mud refers to being true to one’s own self despite your race, age, gender, size etcetera,” Jones says.

Jones is supported by an engaging and ingenious collection of musicians including pianist Jon Cowherd, drummer Jonathan Barber, and saxophonist Samir Zarif. Born in New York City of parents from Barbados, and raised in the Bronx, Jones is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory and she has studied with Lisle Atkinson, Ron Carter, Linda McKnight, Milton Hinton and others.

She has toured extensively throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean Islands and is recognized as a U.S. Jazz Ambassador. Her vast work as a side woman includes gigs with Kenny Barron, Frank Ocean, Dianne Reeves, Tia Fuller, Ingrid Jensen, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marc Cary, Toshi Reagon, Rachel Z, Sean Jones, Ravi Coltrane,and Terri Lyne Carrington’sGrammy Award winning Mosaic Project.

Jones also serves as co-director with ArcoIris Sandoval of The D.O.M.E. Experience, a multimedia project created to inspire its audience to become aware of environmental and social issues, within the community and globally through choreography, composition and cinematography.


Matana Roberts

Saxophone | Sound Art | Composition

Matana Roberts has been called “a major talent” (The Wire) and “the spokeswoman for a new, politically conscious music scene” (Jazzthetik). A dynamic saxophonist, composer, improviser, and mixed media sound artist, Roberts’s acclaimed artistic practice aims to expose and celebrate the mystical roots and intuitive spirit-raising traditions of American creative expression. Her innovative work has forged new conceptual approaches to considering narrativity, history, and political expression within music, improvisation and beyond. 


Amir ElSaffar

Trumpet | Santur | Voice | Composition

Trumpeter, santur player, vocalist, and composer Amir ElSaffar has distinguished himself with a mastery of diverse musical traditions and a singular approach to combining Middle Eastern musical languages with jazz and other styles of contemporary music. In addition, he is a purveyor of the centuries old, now endangered, Iraqi maqam tradition, which he performs actively as a vocalist and santur player. As a composer, ElSaffar has used the microtones found in maqam music to create an innovative approach to harmony and melody.

ElSaffar currently leads four critically-acclaimed ensembles: Two Rivers, which combines the musical languages and instrumentation of Iraqi Maqam and contemporary jazz; the Amir ElSaffar Quintet, performing ElSaffar's microtonal compositions with standard jazz instrumentation; Safaafir, the only ensemble in the US performing and preserving the Iraqi Maqam in its traditional format; and The Alwan Ensemble, the resident ensemble of Alwan for the Arts, specializing in classical music from Egypt, the Levant, and Iraq.

A recipient of the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, ElSaffar has worked with jazz legend Cecil Taylor, and prominent jazz musicians such as Mark Dresser, Gerry Hemingway, Marc Ribot, Henry Grimes, and Oliver Lake. ElSaffar has appeared on numerous recordings, and has released six under his own name, Maqams of Baghdad (2005), Two Rivers (2007), Radif Suite (2010), Inana (2011), Alchemy (2013) and Crisis (2015).


Carmen Lundy

Voice | Composition

Jazz singer, composer and arranger Carmen Lundy hails from Miami, Florida and received her B.M. degree from the University of Miami. In 1978, Lundy moved to NYC and in 1985, she released her first solo album entitled Good Morning Kiss, which topped the Billboard chart for 23 weeks.

Currently on the Afrasia Productions label, Carmen released her newest album Code Noir in February 2017, which debuted at #9 on the Billboard Jazz Chart and received both critical and popular acclaim. Carmen’s previous releases including Night and Day, Self Portrait, This Is Carmen Lundy, Jazz and the New Songbook: Live at the Madrid, Come Home, Changes, and Soul To Soul among others, have all topped the Best Albums and Top Ten albums lists on Downbeat and JazzWeek. As a composer, Ms. Lundy’s catalogue numbers over 100 published songs, one of the few jazz vocalists in history to accomplish such a distinction.

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Kyle Austin

Professionally known as HPrizm is an American avant-garde artist, composer, new media artist and performer whose work spans performance art, pop music and multimedia projects. Formally trained as a visual artist, Prizm, later developed from the axis of poetry, hip hop and the experimental arts community of the Lower East Side in the Early Nineties.

Notably cited for evoking images of Sun Ra and Africa Bambatta at once (Jesse Sewer XL8R Magazine) Austin is the founding member of the critically acclaimed Hip Hop collective, the Antipop Consortium. With a career that spans the last 20 years, Prizm has shared the stages with a wide array of artists ranging from The Roots, Radiohead, and MFDoom to Matthew Shipp, Vijay Iyer and Steve Lehman among others. As a composer, his pieces have been installed in the Whitney Biennial (NYC) as well as the Mazzoli Gallery (ITALY)

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