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Composer and multi-instrumentalist, Akili Jamal Haynes, began his career at
the age of 15 as a trombonist under the mentorship of Wynton Marsalis and three
years later was touring with Illinois Jacquet’s Big Band. Early on, Akili embarked
on his pursuit to perform on multiple instruments at high skill levels, to bring
greater levels of excellence to his original compositions.
As a Trombonist, Akili has worked with such notables as the McCoy Tyner Big Band, Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Lenny Kravitz, Roberta Flack, The Mingus Big Band, and many more.
As a Vocalist, Akili was blessed with the opportunity to work with Jon Hendricks, Jimmy Cobb, Honi Coles, Milt Hinton, Gregory Hines, and Panama Francis while still a teenager. Though singing is not the most prevalent of Akili’s abilities, he continued to use his voice into his 20’s with Bill Lee & The Family Tree Singers, The Mingus Big Band, and continues using it today.
Akili has honed his skills and knowledge of Haitian, Ugandan, Brazilian, and Senegalese folklore, music, dance, and drumming. Recently he was musical director for Dr. Glory Van Scott's production of Urban Canaan at the John Hancock Hall in Boston as part of the Boston Arts Academy's 10th Anniversary Celebration. When ever Dr. Van Scott is in the Boston area, Akili is her drummer of choice, and for that he feels very blessed.
Akili currently performs with several ensembles, each with it’s own musical language:
Lamine Toure & Group Saloum www.laminetoure.com , which is lead by Senegalese, Wolof Griot, master drummer and dancer Lamine Toure features a blend of jazz, funk, reggae, and rooted in the Senegalese musical creation called Mbalax (M-ba-lock). Here he contributes as composer, trumpeter, vocalist, percussionist, and has also spent some time as the bands electric bassist, and keyboardist respectively.
Iyeoka & The Rock By Funk Tribe www.iyeoka.com , lead by award winning Nigerian poet/singer Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo. With the opportunity of performing in various settings, Akili performs as a keyboardist, trumpeter, vocalist, acoustic bassist, percussionist, and offers his skills as a musical director. The Rock By Funk Tribe full band sound is Soul and Funk oriented. When Iyeoka and Akili perform duo a jazz sound is more evident, and Akili uses a loop station and performs on all multiple instruments as mentioned previously.
Fred Woodard Trio www.fredwoodard.com , lead by guitarist, educator Fred Woodard. Akili has joined the trio as a jazz bassist along with drummer Yoron Israel.
GiFrants Band Segwe www.gifrants.com , lead by Haitian singer/songwriter/ guitarist/arranger who has dedicated his life to preserving and developing Haitian music, Gifrants. Akili performs Haitian rhythms and other African Diaspora rhythms like Brazilian Samba on multiple congas. He uses two (2) congas when performing with another percussionist, and five (5) congas when he is the only percussionist. Akili is preparing several bands of his own while honing his skills, and sharing his talents with the aforementioned bands. The variety of music Akili is preparing will be as diverse as the musical situations he has placed himself in.
Akili's dance experience includes Southern Chinese dance with Chu Ling Dance Academy; African-Brazilian traditional and modern movement with Isaura Oliveira's group, Iwa Pele; Haitian folkloric dance with Patric LaCroix; and a role in Toussaint Before the Spirits, a Boston Modern Orchestra Project written by Elena Reuhr and choreographed by Nicola Hawkins. Akili’s latest dance inspiration comes from the world of Tap. Recently he taught a very successful class called “Sweet Beats” (For your hands and feet) in tap dancer, and producer Julia Boynton’s Beantown Tap Fest www.beantowntapfest.com
Akili has been a Faculty member of the New England Conservatory of Music’s Preparatory & Continuing Education School for over 14 years, and in 2008 he became Program Director of the Woodwinds & Brass Ensemble Program at NEC at the behest of his mentor Calvin Hicks; He is also Guest Faculty at Berklee College of Music; Affiliated Artist/Composer in M.I.T.’s Dance Theater Department; Instructor at Seaport Campus for Children; Dance Faculty Musician in the Boston Conservatory Dance Division; Dance Accompanist at Jeannette Neil Dance Studios; Accompanist for Prometheus Dance Company; and creator of Chibuzo Music.
Akili was born in Brooklyn, New York and currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.