Music, Performing Arts
MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2020
Artist StatementPerforming as a group for twenty years, the applicant, has created seven unique studio and live recordings. Spanning rich jazz traditions, their current direction represents a departure of purpose. In their own words, their latest work is, "wrapped around a spiritual center." The new focus explores the marriage of jazz and gospel that comes out of the African American diaspora of sacred music. The current complexities of our world have opened a well-spring of creativity; collaborative work that inspires, comforts and heals. Though the music origins are from traditional gospel, the applicant's jazz framework makes the work uniquely their own.
For almost two decades, The Eric Byrd Trio (EBT), pianist/vocalist Eric Byrd, bassist Bhagwan Khalsa, and drummer Alphonso Young, Jr., have traveled the world as enthusiastic ambassadors of jazz. Rooted in swing and be-bop, The Trio also embraces gospel and the blues as core elements of their expansive performance style. Their body of work spans seven unique studio and live recordings on which they shine as a Trio and as collaborators with an expanded 8-piece ensemble they call The Eric Byrd Trio: Brother Ray Band, in tribute to The Genius of Soul icon Ray Charles. On each recording, they take a rigorous, modern approach to standards as well as original compositions, playing with great acuity within the broad and rich jazz tradition.
The Eric Byrd Trio are apart of the prestigous Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster , a listing of Maryland-based performing artists who are experienced, organized and professional. Artists who are appointed to the Touring Roster have been selected through a peer review process in which they are rated on artistic merit and on a demonstrated history of successful touring engagements. The Maryland Touring Grant is available to eligible Maryland non-profit organizations that may apply for funding to help defray costs associated with presenting artists listed on the Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster
Collectively, The Trio has played with jazz trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Randy Brecker, jazz guitarists Charlie Byrd and Mike Stern, jazz saxophonists Bob Berg, Buck Hill, David “Fathead” Newman, and Cecil Payne, jazz pianists George Colligan and Kenny Drew, Jr., jazz saxophonists and flautists Sonny Fortune and Gary Thomas, be-bop jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist, flautist, and saxophonist Ira Sullivan, jazz steel pan player Othello Molineaux, jazz vibraphonist Warren Wolf, gospel harpist Jeff Majors, jazz vocalists Vanessa Rubin and Rebecca Parris, gospel vocalist Yolanda Adams, and Cuban American singer/songwriter Jon Secada.
Eric, Bhagwan, and Alphonso are educators with advanced degrees in Music History, African American Music, and Jazz Performance. They frequently give clinics on music history, jazz, and the relationship between the spirituals/gospel, blues, and jazz. Because of their immense knowledge of music, commitment to music education, and ability to teach diverse and international audiences, they have been sponsored by the Untied States Embassy as Kennedy Center/U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassadors touring South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern & Western Europe, and the Middle East. The Trio has also delighted audiences across the globe at the historic Montreux Jazz Festival and in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dubai, Estonia, Honduras, Italy, Peru, Scotland, and Trinidad and Tobago.