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Elijah Jamal Balbed

Washington, DC's "Best New Jazz Musician" of 2010, member of BCJO and Donvonte McCoy Quintet, and one of the last sax players to play with the Godfather of GoGo, Chuck Brown.

About Me

Saxophonist and composer Elijah Jamal Balbed hails from Washington, DC, having studied with the area's top educators Paul Carr, Charlie Young, and Fred Foss. Named Best New Jazz Musician of 2010 by the Washington City Paper, Balbed's credits reach beyond the district, having performed in several cities in the United States (Austin, Philadelphia, NYC, to name a few), and in 4 cities in Japan (Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagano, and Karuizawa). Elijah attended Howard University from 2008-2011, where he played in the Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE) and the HU Jazztet. At Howard, Elijah has appeared on 4 albums with HUJE, 1 album with the Jazztet, and performed with Bunky Green, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Bennie Maupin, and Larry Willis. In May of 2011, Elijah had the rare opportunity to perform with music legend and Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown. Over the next year, he served as a part-time member of Mr. Brown's band until his passing in May of 2012, having performed with him in Raleigh, Harrisburg, Richmond, Cramton Auditorium, 9:30 Club, LOVE, Ibiza, and several other local Go-Go venues. In July of 2011, Elijah was given a residency at the legendary jazz club, Bohemian Caverns. It was this residency that prompted the idea for a recording session. This idea quickly spawned into 2 spirited recording dates in August, 2011, and a successful Kickstarter Campaign in September, which led to the creation of Elijah's debut album, "Checking In". The album was named #4 Best Jazz Album of 2012 by Capital Bop, and the title track was a finalist in the jazz category of the 2013 International Songwriters Competition. Elijah continues to perform with his own band, dubbed the "EJB Quintet". This group, with a few variations, performed highly successful concerts at Bohemian Caverns, Kennedy Center, and Strathmore. In addition to gigs as a leader, Elijah is also a current member of the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra (BCJO), Donvonte McCoy Sextet, and the Chuck Brown Tribute Band. Donvonte McCoy's band was named Best Jazz Small Group in 2012 by the Washington City Paper. Also in 2012, BCJO received a Mayor's Arts Award for Best Emerging Artist. In addition to his recent release as a leader, Elijah has appeared on albums such as "Bright Moments", "Moonwalk", and "Ode to Life" (HUJE), "Reign" (HU Jazztet), "Dhyana" (Andrea Wood), "Under the Sun" (Christos), "Cosmic Collisions" (Lydia Lewis), "Lovely Changes" (Lena Seikaly), "Stairway to the Stars" (Integriti Reeves), and the film "Oxygen for the Ears" by Dr. Stefan Immler, which also features Ravi Coltrane, Esperanza Spalding, Chuchito Valdes, and the late Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson and Dr. Billy Taylor. Most recently, Elijah was accepted into the Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead program, a two-week career development residency hosted by the Kennedy Center that Betty Carter started at Brooklyn Academy of Music in the 1990's. The program is focused on jazz performance and composition, and has an extensive list of notable alumni. Immediately following this residency, Elijah jumped into another one at the historic DC club, Bohemian Caverns, where he is featured every week for the month of April. For more info on Elijah, go to

My Jazz Story

In 5th grade my mother wanted me to play an instrument so bad that once we decided it was sax I was going to play, she went out and bought (not rented) a horn. I didn't practice very much at first. One early morning before school, that horn was left at a bus stop and I thought it was gone forever. 3 weeks later, a homeless man who had retrieved the sax came up to me and returned it. It was so miraculous, that I never had to be told to practice after that day. Now I'm a full time musician!