The Bahia Band (my most recent foray into the world of "World Jazz") is a project that developed after visiting Salvador (Bahia) Brazil several times during the recording and mixing of the Speak in Tones “Subaro” project (2003-2004). I fell in love with it’s people and it’s music. I have now come to make it one of my homes. This band is basically a continuation of what I’ve been doing along with artists like Graham Haynes, Brice Wassy, Cheick Tidiane Seck, Antoine Roney, Steve Coleman, Lonnie Plaxico, Santi DiBriano, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Roy Hardgrove, Wallace Roney, Leon Parker, Sam Newsome, Cassandra Wilson, Gino Sitson, Elizabeth Kotomonou, Daniel Moreno and Jorge Amorim for more than 10 years now, which is something I like to call “World Jazz”. This is by no means a new concept, groups and artists like Weather Report, Mwandishi, Codona*, Hermeto Pascoal, Okay Temiz, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Palmieri, Jerry Gonzalez, Jack DeJohnette, the Miles Davis electric bands and many more have preceded us and loom over us as huge influences and a continuous source of inspiration; they were the true innovators. Everybody talks about “World” music these days which can mean anything from Siberian throat singing to Afro-Brazilian music and everything in between; what it means to me is universal musical folklore conciousness.

“Jazz” is a word which in my opinion fundamentally means improvisation, and more specifically improvisation stemming from the Afro-American tradition. There are of course other great improvisational traditions, such as Flamenco, and Indian music. I claim all of the above and much more as my influences.

Every combination of influences leads to new aural textures and flavors, and thus a seemingly limitless realm of “multi-kulti” possibilities opens up to us, allowing everyone an original voice. “World Jazz” is not so much a tradition in and of itself, but rather a genre that is defined by the melding of an arbitrary diversity of musical traditions with the world of improvisation.

I am basically an autodidact (self taught) musician and composer.
I did spend some time @ Jazz Mobile, Berklee and the New School back in the day...all @ a relatively elementary level.
Some of my teachers and at times mentors include:
Steve Lacy, Steve Grossman, David Liebman, Billy Pierce, Joe Ferguson, Kenny Rogers and Ernie Wilkins. Clifford Jordan, Alan Silva.

Here is a list of some of the wonderful artists that I’ve had the honor and the pleasure of performing and or recording with over the years:

- John Betsch, Ron Pittner, Brice Wassy, Pheroan aklaff, Terreon Gully, Phoenix Rivera, Bruce Cox, Jun Saito, Toko Hino, Masahiko Togashi, Cecil Monroe, Edik Zizak, Sergei Ostromuov, Sasha Mashin, Jorge Amorim, Jorge Brasil, Marcelo Brasil, Damon Short

- J.J. Avenel, Alan Silva, Cecil McBee, Curtis Lundy, Reggie Washington, Darryl Hall, Mark Helias, Noel Ekwabi, Tamio Kawabata, Benisuke Sakai, Nobuyoshi Ino, Shigeo Sugiyama, Derek Jackson, David Levray Taurus Mateen, Larry Kohut, Igor Ivanushkin,
,
- Bobby Few, Cynthia Hilts, Fabian Reza Pane, Makoto Tereshita, Masahiko Sato, Andrei Razin, Lev Kushnir

- Barry Wedgle, J.F. Kellner, Gustavo Dantas, Brian Carrott

- Graham Haynes, Nicolas Genest, Greg Glasman, Jeff Beer, Jerry Gonzalez, Gileno Santana, Ryan Schultz, Mark Sims, Noah Bless, Freddie Dantes

- Antoine Roney, Tom Alexander, George Garzone, Brad Wheeler, Marcio Tobias,
Jean Michel Couchet, Francois Theberge

- Abdou M’Boup, Biboul Darouich, Bira Reis, Dende, Martihno da Cuica, Ravi Magnifique, Bob Amacker

- Gino Sitson, J.D. Walters, Tatyana Komova, Andrei Mangoush, Bolot

- Memorable sittin’ in experiences include : Mal Waldron, Les McCann, Eddie Gomez

Some of my favorite artists (this list includes all forms of artistic expression) :

- Miles (Davis) (and just about everybody ever musically associated with him)
- Bird (Charlie Parker)
-Trane (John Coltrane)
- Monk (Thelonius)
- Mingus (Charles)
- Duke (Ellington)
- Elvin (Jones)
- Jack Dejohnette
- Woody (Shaw)
- Freddie (Hubbard)
- Dizzy (Gillespie)
- Prez (Lester Young)
- Louis Armstrong
- Muddy Waters
- Cecil (Taylor)
- Ornette (Coleman)
- Bob Marley
- Picasso (Pablo)
- Dali (Salvador)
- Pollack (Jackson)
- Kandinsky (Vassily)
- Stravinsky (Igor)
- Bartok (Bela)
- Debussy (Claude)
- Shoenberg (Arnold)
- Berg (Alban)
- Dutilleux (Henri)
- Schnitke (Alfred)
- Elliott Carter
- Maurice Bejart
- Judith Jameson
- Mihail Baryshnikov
- Rudolf Nureev
- Tanaka Min
- Shiro Daimon
- Fellini (Frederico)
- Spike Lee
- Jim Jarmusch
- Ray Barretto
- Eddie Palmieri
- Jerry Gonzalez
- Gonzalo Rubalcaba
- Brice Wassy
- Cheik Tidiane Seck
- Horace Silver
- Quincy Jones
- James Brown
- Bootsy Collins
- George Clinton
- Gil Scott Heron
- Salif Keita
- Oumou Sangare
- Boubacar Traore
- Billy Holiday
- Sarah Vaughan
- Betty Carter
- Diane Reeves
- Johnny Hartman
- Frank Sinatra
- Cassandra Wilson
- Nat King Cole
- Gil Evans
- Thad Jones
- Bob Florence
- Blue Mitchell
- Steve Coleman
- Bob Mintzer
- Maria Schneider
- Florian Ross
- Bill Hollman
- Graham Haynes
- Antoime Roney
- Joe Lovano
- Charlie Haden
- Don Cherry
- Hermeto Pascoal
- Lakshmi Shankar
- Nusrat Ali Kahn
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Murakami (Hiroki)
- Lucius Shepard
- Hunter S Thompson
- Charles Bukovsky
- Baudelaire (Charles)
- Appollinaire (Guillaume)
- Rimbaud (Arthur)
- TS Elliot
- James Joyce
- Shakespeare
......i'll continue to add to this list as time goes on...

FAVORITE QUOTES as told 2 me:

"Music is magic and logic is the lowest form of magic."
- Cecil Taylor

"...if i didn't think i could hear something I've never heard before every time I perform, I'd stop performing and stay home and compose"
- Ornette Coleman

"...that was perfect, now make it more perfect"
- Alan Silva

more info about Mike Ellis @:
www.bahiaband.com
www.alphapocket.com
www.mikeellismusic.com

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Jaijai, what a wonderful mission you've undertaken to create such a place for artistic minds to meet and share their hearts. A place to renew faded determinations, and revive lessened momentums. A place to display our wares and reconfirm to one another that we actually are on the right track.

I commend you, Jaijai, for caring so much that you created this castle of the heart for all of us. I want to share my praise for all of the new friends as well as old friends that I've met and will meet here in our castle. Here we can garnish the where-with-all, the strength, the conviction, and the selflessness through our symbiosis, to share our gift to the world with an unbiased agenda.

My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says of art: "A beautiful flower delights and refreshes the hearts of all people equally, no matter what soil it grows in. That is the power of beauty. The same is true of great art. It is this spirit that the German poet Heinrich Heine sang of when he wrote that once the peapod bursts open, the sugar peas inside are for everyone to enjoy."

Let's be audacious, my friends!

Buster Williams

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