Rajiv Halim
Gig Seeker Pro

Rajiv Halim

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Jazz World




"CD Review of Rajiv Halim - Foundation"

Saxophonist Rajiv Halim at 26 has already done more playing than some will do in a lifetime. Coming up through JIC’s Jazz Links program and having already played with the hip-hop group Kids These Days, in Robert Irving III’s Generations, and in a bunch of other ensembles, he’s obviously integrated pieces of all of it into his playing. The results, as heard on Foundation, are fascinating. Latin jazz, afro-beat, R&B, hip-hop and the sounds of jazz both classic and modern are all integrated into one pretty exhilarating whole. And if Rajiv is indicative of what’s happening with the younger folks on Chicago’s jazz scene these days, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Any great album has three components: great songs, great players and thoughtful interaction. Foundation has at least two of these going for it. This band is tight, and the quality of the players on this session couldn’t possibly be in question. Great songs? As in melodies I can remember and hum? There are a couple. But the performances are so fiery that even on the songs where a more indelible melody would seal the deal, it just doesn’t matter; I’ve found myself coming back for the solos and the grooves anyway. It doesn’t hurt that the roster here is a who’s who of younger players in town: Victor Garcia (who plays trumpet on the vast majority of Foundation) comes from CALJE, the impressive Latin jazz ensemble that finds themselves on a hiatus right now; Marquis Hill (who busts out the trumpet on a couple of songs here), the winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk competition; Scott Hesse, who is without question one of a handful of truly wonderful guitarists in town; Kevin Kozol who plays brilliantly in Spare Parts; and Junius Paul, who has been ubiquitous throughout Chicago for a while now. Only Michael Pilote’s name was new to me, and damn can that guy play. He is a thrilling drummer to listen to, and I hope I will be hearing more of him for years.

Foundation comes roaring out of the gate with “The Wise Man.” An up-tempo jam, this one takes no prisoners. Halim solos like a man possessed here (and really throughout, but noticeable on this song, one with the most teeth to it). Things take on a more R&B flavor on “The Hard Worker,” written for Halim’s mother, proof that contemporary need not at all mean smooth. This is full of grit, peaks and valleys and might be my favorite cut. “Slim” sounds straight out of afro-beat with some killer soloing. “Pasatiempo” is full of Brazilian flavor without sounding like a bossa nova rehash. “Baby Bop” comes off like a suite, and is well executed. Hearing Halim tell the story behind it at a gig is more than enough reason to get out and see him sooner than later. Really, only “Donna Lee” falls flat, and it’s not because it’s a bad arrangement. Actually, the arrangement of the “A” section is rather clever. But instead of letting it be clever, Halim beats you over the head with it. Once it gets to the solos, everyone sounds great, especially Scott Hesse, who throws a few bold ideas out into the ether. But, still, if out of nine tunes, only one is a not entirely great, your batting average is still pretty phenomenal. And as a first effort out of the gate, that’s remarkable.

I’ve been saying it for a while now, but there must be something in the water these days in Chicago, because the last couple of generations of players coming have had some absolute monsters come up through the ranks. Rajiv Halim is one of those players, and I am looking forward to hearing more from him in the future. Foundation is easily recommended.
—Paul Abella - Chicago Jazz Magazine

"A Labour Day weekend well-spent at the 2015 Chicago Jazz Festival"

(excerpt from the full article; for full article, see link above)

Some straightahead Chicago revelations

If you’ve heard of Rajiv Halim and Victor Garcia, you know your Chicago jazz better than I do. Halim, a 24-year-old saxophonist and Garcia, a 32-year-old trumpeter, were the frontline in Halim’s quintet, which provided my first taste of made-in-Chicago jazz on Friday afternoon. I heard two high-energy pieces from this band, both drawn from Halim’s new album Foundation.

The two pieces, the calypso-tinged Slim and Baby Bop, were harmonically stripped-down vehicles for torrid soloing that assigned different musical sections to Halim and Garcia for their stretching-out pleasure. Both hornmen were commanding and exuberant players, with Garcia showing off lots of instrumental range and a way with ear-catching motifs. The rhythm section of guitarist Scott Hesse, bassist Junius Paul and drummer Michael Piolet laid down big-beat accompaniment and knew how to keep the open, vamping feel of solos growing and tumbling. - Ottawa Citizen

"Rajiv Halim"

Rajiv Halim
When: Sun., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $10, $5 students
This young Chicago saxophonist has already made himself a fixture on local bandstands, but his recent self-released debut, Foundation: Rajiv Halim, demonstrates his skills as a leader, even if it does occasionally show off too many ideas (a common occurrence with jazz debuts). Though his sound is rooted in complex, hard-hitting postbop, Halim makes a bunch of stylistic detours: “Slim” includes bracing Afrobeat grooves, the duet with electric pianist Kevin Kozol called “Hailm’s Dream” is a slightly watery ballad, and “Pasatiempo,” which features guest trumpeter Marquis Hill, has a decided bossa nova feel. Halim’s excellent working band—Kozol, guitarist Scott Hesse, trumpeter Victor Garcia, bassist Junius Paul, and drummer Michael Piolet—provides versatile support throughout, demonstrating ease in traveling wherever the leader might map out a path. The group interplay is at its most heated and confident during the brisk updated bebop stuff, including a hyperactive reharmonization of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” and a slashing original, “Baby Bop.” Halim will lead his regular sextet tonight, though Xavier Breaker will sub for Piolet. — Peter Margasak - Chicago Reader

"Ernest Dawkins' tribute to Mandela kicks off Jazz Fest"

For the past decade, Chicago bandleader-composer Ernest Dawkins has been composing vast suites dealing head-on with some of the most turbulent chapters of American history.

Works such as "UnTill Emmett Till" (about the murder of its title character), and "Misconception of a Delusion and Shades of a Charade" (on the Chicago Seven trial) emerged as searing jazz dramas in clubs and concert halls alike.

Dawkins' newest opus kicked off the 36th annual Chicago Jazz Festival on Thursday night at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and extended the composer's perspective far beyond our shores. "Memory in the Center, an Afro Jazz Opera" was conceived as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died last December at age 95, and received its world premiere before a large and appreciative audience. The roughly 90-minute suite proved musically gripping and held some of Dawkins' most ingenious writing, but its dramaturgy and production techniques were clearly in need of work.

The piece opened unconventionally, with a soliloquy performed by South African pianist Neil Gonsalves. For those who already knew that Dawkins had decided to tell Mandela's story in reverse chronological order, it was possible to conclude that this solemn-but-serene piano solo amounted to a kind of elegy for a fallen leader. What a surprising, poetic, soft-spoken way to open an evening-length work.

Dawkins' big band next marched onto the stage playing a buoyant, South African-tinged parade theme, suggesting that the composer was celebrating Mandela's triumphs. Having survived 27 years of imprisonment, Mandela refused to condemn his jailers and went on to lead South Africa out of apartheid, becoming the country's first black president at age 75. Here was one of Dawkins' most elegantly composed pieces, a virtually seamless merger of South African dance rhythm and ebullient Chicago jazz. In effect, this jubilant music exulted in Mandela's achievements while invoking Dawkins' intense connection to South Africa, where he has performed prolifically through the decades.

As the evening progressed, "Memory in the Center" deepened, thanks to a clever use of the otherwise overwhelming LED screen on the stage of the Pritzker Pavilion. Instead of merely showing overly bright, Godzilla-sized images of the musicians on stage, the screen displayed black-and-white shots from Mandela's extraordinary life. The juxtaposition of Dawkins' oft-blues-drenched music with stark scenes of South African apartheid represented a high point in Dawkins' career and inspired high hopes for "Memory in the Center."

Unfortunately, the visual counterpoint was far too stingy, with too few images on view. Though Dawkins chose wisely in opting to project onto the screen the libretto that Khari B. wrote and performed, the supertitles were constantly out of sync with the poet's recitation. This disconnect between what we saw and what we heard diminished the impact of "Memory in the Center."

Some of Dawkins' orchestral writing, on the other hand, startled the ear, particularly fast-flying passages in which his ace ensemble dispatched cascading triplets with remarkable precision and rhythmic impact. Incendiary solos from trumpeter Maurice Brown, profound statements from saxophonist Brent Griffin, Irvin Pierce and Rajiv Halim and explosive work from baritone saxophonist Aaron Getsug contributed greatly to the more successful passages of "Memory in the Center."

Yet when the band was playing full tilt – which was often – the words that the great Dee Alexander sang were rendered virtually indecipherable. In effect, the reverse-chronology story line that "Memory in the Center" established at the start virtually disappeared. The work's vivid beginnings devolved into a wash of sound without apparent narrative focus. Yes, the music was rousing, but the dramatic center of what was billed as an opera was gone.

Even calling "Memory in the Center" an opera is a stretch – it's really more of a vocal-instrumental suite. If Dawkins can make the second half of the piece as clear and purposeful as the first, while also dealing with the production woes that cropped up early in the evening, "Memory in the Center" could stand as one of his more important creations.

But there's work to be done. - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

"Rajiv Halim Quintet live at The Velvet Lounge"

When considering Charlie Parker would have been 90 years old in August 2010, it puts life's blessings into perspective. The 1950s, after-all, seem more than many lifetimes ago when Bird sunk into eternal slumber. With the median average life expectancy for African American men today being 73, Bird's early demise at 35 was unusual for any era.
None-the-less in keeping with those blessings, relative youngster Rajiv Halim and his also youthful cohorts did themselves and Bird quite proud. Only days before Bird's celebrated birthday, on a misty Thursday night down at the Velvet Lounge, Halim's quintet lit up the jazz universe with some stratospheric sounds from yesteryear above and beyond. They spoke in the not too ancient herald tongues of the bebop language with a renewed freshness and mined fervor.

Making a name for himself, the alto saxophonist has been gaining steady ground around town as perhaps one of the best and brightest of jazz players in some time. (Halim along with another young saxophone wonder, Dudley Owens have taken a back seat to no one). The quintet's Charlie Parker tribute that night couldn't have been a more perfect setting. Not three months removed from the late owner Fred Anderson's death, housed in the Velvet are photos and portraits of Bird draping the rooms walls like patron saints symbols warding over the comings and goings of all that enter. Ironically Anderson's first venture as a club owner some 20 odd years hence was naturally christened in honor of his musical hero, "The Birdhouse."

Lest we forget impresario Joe Segal's foresight designating each and every August since Bird's passing "Charlie Parker Month", it is a proverbial cold slap upside the head to awake, rise and shine - and recognize the true genius and importance of such a significant chapter and man in America's history.

Going about the business of keeping the flame, Rajiv Halim's group "with no shame in their game," as is said in the hood, did just that! They took care of business.

The quintet's rhythm section - highly tight and swinging note for note - includes bassist Andrew Voight's insightful, bountiful buttress, along with drummer Xavier Breaker holding it down - and they take a back seat to no one. Breaker, a new name to these eyes and ears is a smooth whirlwind of motion and rhythm. Not overwhelming, but yielding that right touch to command torrents of thunder and no-nonsense ease of swing, he called to mind the outright back beat bashing of a Jack DeJohnette, and the downright groove of a Papa Jo Jones and J.C. Heard. Breaker has the right name for a drummer, because he damn near broke open the drums with pure movement and able grace. He's a very musical drummer as well, who listens to every nuance of band-mates, particularly that of pianist Michael King, whom he seem to zero in on every step of the way.

King is also a new name and someone to watch out for. He is a thought-provoking soloist who seems to be content investigating the symmetrical harmonic intricacies of the music's melodic content. He takes chances and seemingly devilish dares at times that can throw one's sensibilities into a cacophonous tizzy. He's very much akin to the intellectual vices of an Andrew Hill and/or atmospheric Herbie Hancock. King forces you to listen carefully, and in this regard he can be somewhat mysterious, oddly frustrating, yet hip and sparklingly original.

Out front is Halim's musical soul mate in trumpeter Marquis Hill. One could ask for no more of a complimentary partner. Hill is world class talent. No question about it. He can conjure up images of the brawny bluster of Lee Morgan as well as the searing no holds barred note bending rapidity of Chicago legend Billy Brimfield (the late Anderson's sparring foil). Hill would easily fit the front line of any Jazz Messenger band of any era. He is quite a joy to hear.

Leader Rajiv Halim's distinctive quality is of that an attentive listener and all aware presence. Armed with a big fat, beautiful sound akin to long gone masters like Cannonball Adderley, Halim's thrilling solos can fill the heart, mind and any room (with or without air), with a joyous revelry and emotive fluidity. Halim has a take-no-prisoner approach - something very much like Bird did - playing every solo with undeniable passion and artistry. A young master in the making, Halim seems to breeze through a program of Bird fare such as "Passport" and "Chi Chi" and several other long shelved chestnuts. He is the delightful balladeer and soulful wailer on originals such as "The Hardworker." He is fluid with a creative stream of consciousness that comes from some unknown wellspring within. He is an incredibly thought provoking and insightful soloist.

With the quintet's median average age hovering around 30-years-old, there is no limit in sight. That is a real blessing. Charlie Parker tributes will abound, and so will picturesque landscapes of Ellingtonia to Ornette to maybe even vistas of the late Fred Anderson. We can only hope so, for the music is in the artistically able bodied head, heart and hands of Rajiv Halim and his men. - L.A. Ememari III, JazzChicago.net

"Rajiv Halim Sextet Live at Room 43"

The future of Jazz in Chicago is in good hands if the March 10th Hyde Park Jazz Society's weekly set at Room 43 on the South Side is any indication. Alto saxophonist Rajiv Halim and his band of twenty- something (minus one) bandmates really wowed this sophisticated audience. These young men played with passion and poise while thoroughly entertaining those in attendance. Band leader Halim burst on the scene over a year ago when he accompanied his mentor, trumpeter Orbert Davis

on stage in this same room and continues to develop as a musician, composer and leader.
Joining Rajiv on this evening was trumpeter Marquis Hill, keyboardist Martez Rucker, bassist Lane Beckstrom, vibraphonist Justin Thomas, and veteran drummer extraordinaire Charles "Rick" Heath. Some of these young phenoms have been gaining valuable experience in recent years jamming with the likes of Orbert Davis, Ari Brown and Corey Wilkes to name a few. But on this Sunday evening, Rajiv and his sextet were in charge. In addition to standards, several selections played were numbers penned by Rajiv.
They opened the evening with Cannonball Adderly's "Money In The Pocket." Both trumpeter Hill and Rajiv warmed up with solid extended solos, followed by the "cool" keyboardist Martez Rucker. It became obvious early on as they played Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," that all ensemble members would play a major role in making this gig a success. Vibraphonist Thomas took advantage of his first solo to the amazement of the crowd. His rapid action attack took some by surprise as he quickly had the attention of all present. This listener is certain that most audience members had not seen most of these young men before, but their first impression was positive. Not to be upstaged by these "youngsters," veteran timekeeper Heath showcased a smooth, fluid commanding solo toward the conclusion of this "hot" number.,
Marquis and Rajiv alternated lead on Bill Lee's beautiful ballad, "Again Never." Marquis used his flugelhorn to express himself while Rajiv blew sweet notes with his alto. The entire ensemble again stretched on long solos on Joe Henderson's "Serenity." The crowd responded with a rousing ovation.
"Wise Man," a number Rajiv wrote for his father saw him at his best as he blew fast, bright flourishes with a bold attack on each note. Thomas provided the highlight of the evening on the vibe when he followed with passionate playing while going into overdrive. Mr. Heath also got a piece of the action on this number.
Being the "wise man" that he is, Rajiv also played "The Hard Worker," a number he wrote honoring his mother. Bassist Beckstrom, finally had an opportunity to demonstrate his skill while Thomas again stood out.
What a fine evening of music played by some of Chicago's up and coming stars. This listener honestly did not know what to expect, yet these young men played with the poise of veterans and
passion of the youth. Kudos to the Hyde Park Jazz Society for their continued effort to expose the community to new and unheralded musicians as they strive to find their place in the Chicago Jazz scene. - James Walker Jr., JazzChicago.net

"Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Brings Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education Program to Salt Lake City"


Los Angeles, Calif. – The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz will introduce its “Peer-to-Peer” jazz education programs in Salt
Lake City public schools March 17-20. Combining performance with information, these “informances” will be presented by six
exceptionally gifted high school jazz students from Chicago’s Gallery 37 Center for the Arts along with internationally
acclaimed saxophone recording artist Antonio Hart, vocal sensation Lisa Henry, and renowned jazz educator Dr. J.B. Dyas.
Each school visit will include a concert for all students followed by a jazz workshop for each school’s jazz band with the
Chicago students playing alongside and sharing ideas with their SLC counterparts.
“As young people are so influenced by kids their own age, who better to expose them to this great American art form than those
of their own generation?” said TS Monk, the Institute’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees and son of legendary jazz pianist and
composer Thelonious Monk. “And with Antonio Hart and Lisa Henry - two of the most exciting jazz performers on the scene
today - in the mix, it’s truly an extraordinary opportunity for everyone concerned: students, teachers, musicians, non-musicians –
Besides playing jazz at a level that belies their years, the Chicago students will talk with their Salt Lake City peers about what
jazz is, why it’s important to America, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. They also will talk about some
of the important values jazz represents: teamwork, freedom with responsibility, unity with ethnic diversity, hard work and goal
accomplishment, and the importance of finding a passion early in life and being persistent.
The six Chicago students selected to participate in the Salt Lake City tour include bassist Joe Duncker, 16; pianist Michael
King, 17; tenor saxophonist Erick Mateo, 17; trumpeter William Miller, 17; alto saxophonist Rajiv Orozco, 17; and drummer
Michael Piolet, 17. “We are really looking forward to the tour,” said King, one of the best jazz pianists for his age in the
country. “Not just having the awesome opportunity to perform with and learn from Antonio Hart and Lisa Henry, but especially
having the opportunity to play and hang with kids our same age in a city we’ve never been to that we know has got to be a lot
different than Chicago.” The students will teach and learn from one another not unlike Thelonious Monk did with his fellow
musicians during the bebop era 60 years ago. They’ll all learn about each other’s cities and culture.
The weeklong tour will conclude with a performance open to the public on March 21 at the Wine Cellar Concert Hall above
the Wine Cellar Jazz Club, 2550 Washington Blvd in Ogden where area residents and visitors are invited to enjoy an evening
of music with Hart and Henry alongside jazz's future “young lions.” The sextet will perform standards, jazz classics, and
contemporary jazz, as well as compositions from Hart and Henry’s latest CD releases. Shows are at 8:00 and 9:30 PM; tickets
are $10. All proceeds go to support jazz education in Salt Lake City and beyond. For more information call 801-399-3600 or
visit www.winecellarogden.com.
The school “informances” are a component of the Monk Institute’s Jazz in America outreach program (www.jazzinamerica.org)
which includes the national Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education initiative. Through this program, the Institute provides jazz combos
comprised of music students from selected public performing arts high schools across the nation with a week-long peer-to-peer
jazz informance tour. The young musicians gain invaluable performance experience playing alongside internationally acclaimed
artists while they, in turn, help educate young audiences in public schools throughout the US about America’s indigenous art

Antonio Hart, one of the top alto saxophonists on the scene today, has come a long way since elementary
school when he chipped his first reed by carrying it around in his sock. Born and raised in Baltimore, Hart was
classically trained at the Baltimore School for the Arts, studied jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston,
and later earned his Master’s degree in Music Composition and Performance at Queens College in New York.
While at Berklee, he teamed up with classmate Roy Hargrove with whom he would later tour the world and
make a number of critically acclaimed recordings. In 1991, Hart made his debut recording as leader, For the
First Time, on RCA/Novus. He has since gone on to perform around the globe and record over 80 albums with
such eminent jazz artists as Nat Adderley, Monty Alexander, Terence Blanchard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ray Brown, Cyrus
Chestnut, Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Dave Holland, Christian McBride, Wallace Roney, McCoy Tyner, and
Nancy Wilson. Hart’s 1997 release, Here I Stand, was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. Besides
being an internationally acclaimed performer and prolific composer, Hart is a renowned educator and enjoys working with upand-
coming young jazz artists. He currently serves as Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the Aaron Copland School of Music at
Queens College. www.antoniohart.com
Lisa Henry is an engaging vocalist with a combination of swingin’ cool and down home class. A Kansas City
native, she began by singing gospel music in the Baptist church, and by age 12 was singing the music of Billie
Holiday and Miles Davis. Henry was a winner of the 1994 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals
Competition and named an International Jazz Ambassador to Africa. She toured Chile, Argentina, and Peru
with the Monk Institute in 1998, performing for 34 Heads of State at the Summit of the Americas. And, last
year, she performed for an esteemed presidential dinner at the White House, celebrating the Institute's 20th
Anniversary. Over the past 15 years, Henry has performed around the world, sharing the stage with such artists
as Kenny Barron, Kenny Garrett, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Kevin Mahogany, TS Monk, Lou Rawls,
Wayne Shorter, Clark Terry, and Bobby Watson. Her latest recording, Live from 18th and Vine, has received critical acclaim.
Dr. J.B. Dyas has been a leader in jazz education for the past two decades. Formerly the Director of Jazz Studies
at New World School of the Arts and Executive Director of the Brubeck Institute, Dyas currently serves as Vice
President for Education and Curriculum Development at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles.
He oversees the Institute’s education and outreach programs including Jazz In America: The National Jazz
Curriculum (www.jazzinamerica.org), one of the most significant and wide-reaching jazz education initiatives in
the world. Throughout his career, Dyas has performed across the country, taught students at every level, directed
large and small ensembles, developed and implemented new jazz curricula, and written for national music
publications. He has served on the Smithsonian Institution’s Task Force for Jazz Education in America and presented numerous
jazz education events nationwide with such artists as Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock. Dyas received his masters degree in
Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Miami and PhD in Music Education from Indiana University, and is a recipient of the
DownBeat Achievement Award for Jazz Education.
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is a non-profit education organization established in memory of Thelonious Monk, the
legendary jazz pianist and composer. Monk was one of the primary architects of bebop and his impact as both performer and
composer has had a profound influence on every genre of music. His more than 70 compositions are classics that continue to
inspire artists in all disciplines. Monk believed the best way to learn jazz was from a master of the music. The Institute follows
that same philosophy by bringing together the greatest living jazz musicians to teach and inspire young people, offering the most
promising young musicians college level training by America's jazz masters through its fellowship program in Jazz Performance
at Loyola University in New Orleans, and presenting public school-based jazz education programs around the world. Helping to
fill the tremendous void in arts education left by budget cuts in public school funding, the Institute’s school programs are
provided free of charge and use jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image, and
respect for one’s own and others' cultural heritage. Jazz great Herbie Hancock serves as chairman. www.monkinstitute.org
Jazz in America (www.jazzinamerica.org) is the Institute’s Internet-based jazz curriculum available to all 5th, 8th, and 11th
grade public school students in the United States. Designed to be integrated into social studies and American history classes, Jazz
in America is the first jazz curriculum to use state-of-the-art Internet technology and be offered free of charge on a national basis.
Beginning with what jazz is and how it began, each set of age-appropriate lesson plans examines characteristics of various jazz
styles and highlights contributions of important performers and composers. They also explore the social, economic, and political
contexts within which jazz evolved, providing vivid and engaging new ways to study American history. Each lesson connects
content areas, promoting interdisciplinary instruction and stimulating further communication among teachers, students, parents,
and the public. All pertinent content, audio and video examples, student handouts, and assessments are contained within and are
easily downloadable.

Culturally located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts Advanced Arts Education Program is a
tuition-free, fully accredited Chicago Public Schools program that offers specialized instruction in dance, music, theatre, visual
arts, and culinary arts. Students participating in the AAEP are selected by audition or portfolio review, attend their respective
high schools in the morning, take their advanced arts classes at Gallery 37 in the afternoon as part of their regular school day,
and receive honors credits toward high school graduation. Currently, over 200 AAEP students coming from 38 Chicago public
high schools attend the Program, enjoying an art-inspiring diversity reflective of the city. Since its inception nine years ago under
the leadership of Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley and in conjunction with After School Matters, a City of Chicago initiative
offering teens hands-on job training in the arts, sports, technology, and communications, the AAEP has enjoyed a standard of
excellence second to none. The school’s principal is Carolyn Levystein; saxophonist Jarrard Harris and trumpeter Rodney
Clark direct the jazz program.
Gallery 37 Center for the Arts Jazz Sextet
(from left: Joe Duncker, 16; William Miller, 17; Michael Piolet, 17; Michael King, 17; Rajiv Orozco, 17; Erick Mateo, 17)
-photo by Justus Roe-

EDITORS: For more information, full-length bios, and photos, please contact: J.B. Dyas at jbdyas@monkinstitute.org or (323)

Salt Lake City Peer-to-Peer Informance Schedule 2008
Date Event Time Location
Monday, March 17 Assembly Program 9:40 AM Highland High School
Jazz Band Workshop 11:15 AM 2166 South 1700 East
Jazz Vocal Workshop 11:15 AM Salt Lake City, Utah 84106
Tuesday, March 18 Assembly Program 9:30 AM East High School
Jazz Band Workshop 10:50 AM 840 South 1300 East
Jazz Vocal Workshop 10:50 AM Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
Wednesday, March 19 Assembly Program 9:20 AM West High School
Jazz Band Workshop 12:45 PM 241 North 300 West
Jazz Vocal Workshop 12:45 PM Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Thursday, March 20 Assembly Program 8:40 AM Bryant Middle School
Jazz Band Workshop 9:40 AM 40 South 800 East
Jazz Vocal Workshop 9:40 AM Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
Friday, March 21 Concert (two shows) 8:00 PM Wine Cellar Jazz Club
9:30 PM 2550 Washington Blvd
Ogden, Utah 84401
- Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

"Jazz’s new wave on tap"


How will the future of Chicago jazz sound?

You can find out for free Friday evening at Tuley Park, on 501 E. 90th Pl., when a new generation of jazz musicians performs in an aptly titled program, “Young Lions.”

With the exception of their leader-mentor – the established Chicago bassist Lorin Cohen – these Young Lions are little known to the general public. Most recently graduated from college; one just started.

Yet if history is any indicator, the Young Lions soon will be playing high-profile engagements in Chicago and around the world, just as their predecessors have. Ascending Chicago musicians such as trumpeter Corey Wilkes, alto saxophonist Jabari Liu, pianist Justin Dillard and saxophonist Aaron Getsug all once played under the imprimatur of the Young Lions program, organized by the non-profit Jazz Institute of Chicago.

“We’re trying to create the next generation of musicians – as well as the next generation of audiences,” says Daniel Melnick, programs manager at the Jazz Institute. “We keep an eye on young talent.”

That’s putting it mildly. For in addition to Young Lions, the Jazz Institute runs the Jazz Links program, which encourages still younger lions (8th-graders to college sophomores) to play in jam sessions directed by virtuoso Chicago musicians. In effect, Jazz Links preps teenage musicians to become Young Lions, who in turn become the next wave of jazz musicians.

This ingenious feeder system helps explain why Chicago audiences are hearing new bursts of jazz talent these days.

Decades ago, a vast network of clubs nurtured aspiring jazz artists. But as jazz increasingly has become a concert music, clubs have shuttered, leaving young musicians lacking in venues where they can sit in with the pros.

Through ventures such as Jazz Links and Young Lions, the Jazz Institute helps fill the gap, tapping nascent gifts that otherwise would be ignored.

“We’re doing everything we can to help these musicians reach a level where they can be introduced on the circuit as professional jazz musicians,” says Lauren Deutsch, executive director of the Jazz Institute.

Fortunately, the Jazz Institute isn’t forced to do all the heavy lifting by itself. Chicago’s vast network of colleges and universities – most with growing jazz programs – further the cause.

“The jazz education industry has sparked some great talent,” says bassist Cohen, pointing specifically to the jazz program at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, led by the estimable Ron Carter.

Three of Friday’s young lions – pianist Willerm Delisfort, drummer Shirazette Tinnin and trumpeter Marquis Hill – have played together at NIU. Alto saxophonist Rajiv Orozco studies at Orbert Davis’ jazz studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I never had heard of these kids before – I had no idea what level they were going to be at, until I started rehearsing with them,” says Cohen.

“They’re all basically already kind of professional. … They’re serious, they’re strong.

“And it’s not just in Chicago. I just came back with Ryan [Cohan] from a tour of Russia and Ukraine, hearing college-age kids who were incredible. It’s all over the world.”

For Friday evening’s concert, the Chicago musicians will be pushed to meet an international standard: Bassist-bandleader Cohen won’t let them relax with tried-and-true standards. Instead, they’ll bring their own compositions, with Cohen pushing them to achieve new sounds, articulate original ideas.

And though the event takes place far from the glitter of the Loop, it attests to the way young people respond to jazz, when given half a chance to hear it and play it.

“There’s something about the music that, when it clicks with kids at a certain age, they find the pull irresistible,” says programmer Melnick.

“When you talk to these kids, it’s a compulsion: They have to play jazz.

“The kids in our program are getting a chance to perform a well-paying gig with professional musicians. That’s the goal of what we’re doing, and this concert is proof that the concept is working.”

Also worth catchingFred Anderson, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; free; 312-280-2660. The MCA’s appealing “Tuesday on the Terrace” series begins with a bona fide Chicago jazz icon, saxophonist Anderson. On a balmy summer’s day, there’s no sweeter place to catch an early-evening jazz set.

Eldar, Friday through Sunday at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.; $20-$25; 312-360-0234. The jazz-piano prodigy – whose full name is Eldar Djangirov – has become a young adult. Can he live up to the media hype? He leads a trio, a format that will place the artistic onus squarely on his shoulders.

Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble, 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy’s Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $15; 312-642-4805. Dawkins’ band plays as a sextet on this occasion, celebrating New Horizons’ 30th anniversary.

Dee Alexander, 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday at the Checkerboard Lounge, 5201 S. Harper Ct.; $10; 773-684-1472. Though Alexander sounds sumptuous in almost any setting, the chance to hear her at close range at the Checkerboard is particularly alluring.

Tatsu Aoki’s Miyumi Project, 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak Rd.; $5-$15; 312-791-9050. Why does Aoki’s East-meets-West band get so much work in Chicago? The cross-cultural mix – free-form jazz improvisation plus ancient Japanese music – proves difficult to resist. Aoki will be joined by reedists Mwata Bowden and Edward Wilkerson, Jr., plus Hide Yoshihashi and Amy Homma on taiko drums and other percussion.

Joey DeFrancesco Trio, Tuesday through June 7 at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.; $20-$25; 312-360-0234. Not many touring soloists can fill the Showcase for five nights ¿ DeFrancesco can. The leading jazz organist today continues to set a new standard for Hammond B-3 virtuosity.

- Chicago Tribune

"Monk’s protégés bring jazz to the people"


March 21, 2008
Standard-Examiner staff
Thelonious Monk was an eccentric jazz pianist/ composer with a style all his
own. He gave the music world such standards as “Straight No Chaser” and “
’Round Midnight,” and also helped his art form by training young maestros in his
own band.
“That was how you learned jazz, from the masters,” said J.B. Dyas, vice
president of education and curriculum development at the Thelonious Monk
Institute in Los Angeles.
“There also used to be a jazz club on every corner, where you learned to play
— but now the clubs are mostly gone. So instead, we are doing the same thing
in schools.”
Founded by Monk’s family and carrying on his belief that the best way to learn
was through an apprenticeship, the institute brings together gifted young players
with accomplished jazz artists to study and tour, learning the ropes and teaching
others in the process.
The institute also features a free-of-charge, Internet-based curriculum
(www.jazzinamerica. org) designed to be integrated into social studies and
American history classes
The institute may be best known for sponsoring a jazz competition each year.
“It’s as prestigious as the Van Cliburn championship is to the classical-piano
world,” said Dyas. “But even the contest is mainly about education and
For their peer-to-peer program, the institute picks a handful of the best young
players from performing arts high schools in the country and gives them
scholarships to study at Loyola University in New Orleans.
“There, they take all the classes as a group, learning much as Thelonious and
his cronies did, by studying with a jazz master, and then by playing with their
peers,” said Dyas. “We have them work with the heaviest hitters, and then they
are on their own for a week to explore what they’ve learned. Then in return, they
go out and do jazz outreach.”
Six Chicago students from the program have spent the past week teaching at
Salt Lake City’s Highland High School, East High School, West High School and
Bryant Middle School.
Tonight, the week’s work culminates with two all-ages concerts at the former
OJAM restaurant in Ogden. All proceeds go to support jazz education in Utah.
Through the ages
The student performers from Chicago are bassist Joe Duncker, 16; pianist
Michael King, 17; saxophonists Erick Mateo, 17 and Rajiv Orozco, 17; drummer
Michael Piolet, 17; and trumpeter William Miller, 17. The six, who study at the
Gallery 37 Center for the Arts in Chicago, were handpicked to work this program.
Also coming into Ogden, working as journeymen instructors, are Antonio Hart
and Lisa Henry — both modern masters of the jazz game.
Hart is an alto saxophonist and professor of jazz saxophone at the Aaron
Copland School of Music at Queens College in New York. He has performed
internationally and appeared on over 80 albums.
“I deal mainly with grad students at the college, so I find it refreshing to deal
with these younger musicians,” said Hart, speaking from Queens College. “They
are more open to receiving information, so I am definitely looking forward to that.”
Based in Kansas City, Henry is a vocalist of the cool swing style. She won
first runner-up in the institute’s challenging jazz vocals competition in 1994, and
has performed for heads of state and been an ambassador for jazz in Africa.
“I’ve always had a passion for teaching and youth,” said Henry, in an e-mail
“I really enjoy traveling with the kids. It’s a real treat to watch them make new
discoveries about themselves and the music business. Through touring, the
students get the real-world experience of being on the road as a working jazz
As an added bonus, longtime Ogden saxophonist Joe McQueen will take the
stage with the younger players.
“Joe McQueen is a legend,” said Dyas. “These kids are gonna love this — this
is really the torch being passed down. ...
“A guy like Joe McQueen learned the blues the real way, the true way —
these kids can understand that, by seeing him play.”
A week of work
Learning goes both ways between the student teachers and their peers. The
touring students get to learn about a new culture, and perhaps discover regional
music as well.
Added Dyas: “Young players might not know Ron Carter, but they see some
16-year-old bass player tearing it up, or hear someone their own age just burnin’
on sax? The message they get is jazz represents teamwork, unity with ethnic
diversity, and the correlation between heart-and-goal accomplishments. There is
no better example of these things working together than a jazz group.”
The Gallery 37 Jazz Sextet will first present to the whole student body, then
break off to work individually with their jazz peers.
“They give a message to all students — ‘Hey man, you need to have
something special in life and stick to it, it doesn’t have to be music, it can be
anything that makes you passionate — cars, medicine, sports — but do get into
it and stick to it and become the best you can,’ ” said Dyas.
One night only
A couple of the musicians who play the Wine Cellar put Dyas in touch with
the club’s proprietor, Walter Mitchell, when word came through that the institute
was looking for a place for a jazz gig in Utah.
Mitchell said he was pleased with the idea. His private club now features a
monthly jazz jam, as well as local and touring jazz artists — but only for those
over 21. He’s long wanted to bring this music to the younger set.
“I have a lot of friends who want to bring their young adult kids, under 21, to
see music here, to see Mr. McQueen and the (Legendary) Porch Pounders and
all that,” Mitchell said. “But we can’t do that with the laws being what they are
now. So I hoped for just one night we could let in the under-21 crowd to see their
peers play.”
Mitchell managed to get a permit for an all-ages show in the room above his
club — formerly the OJAM soulfood restaurant.
“I got crazy and changed the name for a day to the Wine Cellar Concert Hall,”
Mitchell said. “We’ll make it an inviting nightclub atmosphere, but for everyone,
and will have these wonderful musicians of all ages playing for them. I really think
that the kids need to be exposed to this kind of thing, to learn that there is more
than hip-hop out there. I don’t have anything against hip-hop or rap, but there is a
whole big world of music out there, too.”
Justus Roe Chicago’s Gallery 37 Jazz Sextet includes (from left) William Miller,
Erick Mateo, Michael King, Michael Piolet, Joe Duncker and Rajiv Orozco. They
perform tonight with Antonio Hart, Joe McQueen and Lisa Henry (below) at the
Wine Cellar concert hall in Ogden. - Standard-Examiner


"Foundation" (Self Released/MILAH Productions) - Released August 25th, 2015



Rajiv Halim is a saxophonist, composer, and educator from Chicago, IL. He was born to immigrant parents from Belize on September 15, 1990, incidentally the same birth day as saxophonist, Cannonball Adderley. However, it was Charlie Parker who became the beacon that sparked Rajiv’s love for improvisation and creative music.

The Rajiv Halim Quintet performs regularly in the greater Chicagoland area and features trumpeter Victor Garcia, guitarist Scott Hesse, bassist Junius Paul, and drummer Michael Piolet. Rajiv’s debut album “Foundation” was released in August 2015 and is available for digital purchase worldwide. Rajiv also performs with well-known local bands such as Ron Haynes’ Game Changers, The Xavier Breaker Coalition, and Robert Irving III’s Generations.

Early in his career, Rajiv was the saxophonist for the eclectic band Kids These Days (KTD, now defunct). KTD started out as a jam band, but they eventually produced original songs that got the group of misfit musicians national recognition. Released in June 2011, KTD’s EP “Hard Times” was recognized by the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and Huffington Post. KTD opened shows for artists ranging from Snoop Dogg to Raphael Saadiq, and the band, “Chicago.”

Internationally, Rajiv has performed in Canada; in Poznan, Poland at the Made in Chicago Festival in both 2011 and 2016; in Belize at The Bliss Institute for Performing Arts; and in Taichung City, Taiwan at the 2014 Taichung Jazz Festival. Nationally, Rajiv has performed and/or recorded with many great musicians: Jennifer Hudson, Chance The Rapper, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Ernie Watts, Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Cory Henry, Richard Gibbs, Curtis Lundy, Antonio Hart, Lisa Henry, Von Freeman, Mike Stern, Crucial Conflict, Martha Reeves, Bob Mintzer, The Four Tops, Ernest Dawkins, Maggie Brown, Orbert Davis, Maurice Brown, Corey Wilkes, Marquis Hill and others. Locally, Rajiv has also performed in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Chicago Jazz Festivals. A highlight of Rajiv’s recording career came in 2016 when he contributed saxophone parts to the composition “Finish Line” by Chance the Rapper for his project “Coloring Book”, which won the 2017 Grammy Award for “Best Rap Album”.

Rajiv has also won awards as a solo artist. He placed second at the first annual “Saxophone Idol” International Competition (2013), organized by the Keilwerth Saxophone Company; the judges included legendary saxophonist Ernie Watts. Rajiv also competed in the 2014 Taichung Saxophone Competition in Taiwan. After the first round of elimination, twenty-nine contestants were invited over to Taichung City, Taiwan from eight countries, spanning three continents for the final rounds; Rajiv took second place in this international competition.

When Rajiv isn’t writing, playing, or practicing, he can be found at Oak Park River Forest High School teaching private saxophone lessons, at St. Patrick High School, teaching saxophone sectionals and giving private lessons, and at Terra Sounds School of Music & Arts in, teaching private woodwind lessons.

Rajiv is an endorsing artist for Jody Jazz Saxophone Mouthpieces and plays them exclusively.