Elijah Jamal Balbed is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator from Washington, DC. An alumnus of Howard University's legendary Jazz program, Elijah has been named Artist of the Year (2016), Best Tenor Saxophonist (2013) and Best New Jazz Musician (2010) by the Washington City Paper, and has participated in residencies at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead), DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (202Creates), Strathmore, the historic (and now defunct) Jazz club Bohemian Caverns, and a month-long stint at Jazz at Lincoln Center in Doha, Qatar. In addition to the Middle East, music has taken Elijah all over the world including places like Russia (Moscow, Kaliningrad, & Orenburg), Japan (Tokyo, Nagano, Karuizawa, & Yokohama), Jamaica (Ocho Rios & Kingston), South America (Panama & Costa Rica), the U.K. (London & Kent), and many states in North America. Over the last decade, Elijah has established himself as a versatile saxophonist, having performed with a wide array of artists including Winard Harper, Bennie Maupin, and Cyrus Chestnut, all the way to Lalah Hathaway, Eric Benet, The Blackbyrds, and even Fantasia from American Idol. Elijah is best known for having worked regularly with the late, great, Godfather of Go-Go music, Chuck Brown for the last year of his life (2011-2012).
In 2012, Elijah released his debut album "Checking In". The title track awarded him a semi-finalist slot in the International Songwriting Competition (2012). On International Jazz Day 2015, Elijah released his second album - an homage to the DC Jazz scene and community entitled "Lessons From the Streets". Both albums were named among the best jazz releases their respective years by CapitalBop, the leading jazz publication in DC. In addition to jazz, Elijah is equally dedicated to the preservation of Go-Go music - Washington, DC's indigenous style of music created by Chuck Brown. In 2014, Elijah formed a band dedicated to continuing the legacy of The Godfather - The JoGo Project. In addition to the band name, "JoGo" (Jazz + Go-Go) is also a concept of keeping the jazz elements of Go-Go strong and present - something Chuck Brown always made sure to do. Members of JoGo Project recently served as ambassadors on behalf of the U.S. State Department on a cultural diplomacy tour in Russia. JoGo has also been highly acclaimed in DC and the surrounding areas, having performed at venues such as Strathmore, Kennedy Center, Club Bonafide (NYC), Beyu Caffe (Durham, NC), and festivals including DC Jazz Festival, H Street Festival, Art All Night, and two appearances at the Labor Day Weekend Music Festival sponsored by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Elijah is a voting member of the Washington, DC Chapter of the Recording Academy. Follow on social media to learn more!
- Sitali Siyolwe / Juju House (March 2017)
- Chuck Brown Band - Show Me Love (May 2016)
- Mark Meadows - To The People (April 2016)
- Mike Phillips - Pulling Off The Covers (2016)
- Sam Prather - Groove Orchestra Christmas (2015) (2 AM Music)
- Elijah Jamal Balbed - Lessons From the Streets (2015) (EJB Jazz)
- Tim Whalen - Oblivion: The Music of Bud Powell (2015)
- Pete Muldoon - The Score (2014)
- Samuel Prather - Groove Orchestra (2014) (2 AM Music)
- Integriti Reeves - Stairway to the Stars (2014)
- Christos - Long Road (2014)
- Elijah Jamal Balbed - Checking In (2012) (EJB Jazz)
- Kim Jade Fry - The Good Thing (2012)
- Yusef (Joseph Jordon) - Jazz and the Joint Forces (2012)
- Lena Seikaly - Lovely Changes (2011)
- Christos - Under the Sun (2011)
- Lydia Lewis - Cosmic Collisions (2011)
- Dhyana, Andrea Wood (2011)
- Howard University Jazz Ensemble - Ode to Life (2011)
- Howard University Jazz Ensemble - Moonwalk (2010)
- Sitali - Aluta Continua (2009)
- Howard University Jazztet, Reign (2009)
- Howard University Jazz Ensemble - Bright Moments (2009)
"...a hard swinging set of songs in the classic jazz tradition, played with precocious energy."
-Luke Stewart, Capital Bop/WPFW
(From a 2012 review of Elijah's debut album)
- House of Cards - Season 4, Episode 11 (2016)
- Lighters - Chuck Brown Band Music Video (2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMhpIQrIqfQ
- Oxygen For The Ears, directed by Dr. Stefan Imler (2012) - A documentary about the status of jazz in today's society, from Washington, DC's perspective