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 various 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 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 Chuck Brown - The JoGo Project. Most recently, members of JoGo Project 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 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!