Position: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Jazz Piano
Employed Since: 2021
B.A., Western Maryland College; M.M., Lancaster Bible College; M.A., Morgan State University
For twenty years, the Eric Byrd Trio (EBT), pianist/vocalist Eric Byrd, bassist Bhagwan Khalsa and drummer Alphonso Young, Jr., have traveled the world as enthusiastic ambassadors of jazz. Rooted in swing and be-bop, the trio also embraces gospel and the blues as core elements of their expansive performance style. Their body of work spans seven unique studio and live recordings on which they shine as a trio and as collaborators with an expanded 8-piece ensemble they call the Eric Byrd Trio: Brother Ray Band, in tribute to the Genius of Soul icon Ray Charles. On each recording, they take a rigorous, modern approach to standards as well as original compositions, playing with great acuity within the broad and rich jazz tradition.
In 2020 the Maryland State Arts Council bestowed upon the Eric Byrd Trio a $10k Independent Artist Award (IAA) for notable artistic achievement.
Their new recording “TWENTY” has just been released. It is available on all streaming platforms. “TWENTY,” 10 songs they’ve re-recorded and updated and 10 brand new songs, celebrates their 20 years together as a jazz trio.
The Eric Byrd Trio is part of the prestigious Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster, a listing of Maryland-based performing artists who are experienced, organized and professional. Artists who are appointed to the touring roster have been selected through a peer-review process in which they are rated on artistic merit and on a demonstrated history of successful touring engagements. The Maryland Touring Grant is available to eligible Maryland nonprofit organizations that may apply for funding to help defray costs associated with presenting artists listed on the Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster.
Collectively, the trio has played with jazz trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Randy Brecker, jazz guitarists Charlie Byrd and Mike Stern, jazz saxophonists Bob Berg, Buck Hill, David “Fathead” Newman, and Cecil Payne, jazz pianists George Colligan and Kenny Drew, Jr., jazz saxophonists and flautists Sonny Fortune and Gary Thomas, be-bop jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist, flautist, and saxophonist Ira Sullivan, jazz steel pan player Othello Molineaux, jazz vibraphonist Warren Wolf, gospel harpist Jeff Majors, jazz vocalists Vanessa Rubin and Rebecca Parris, gospel vocalist Yolanda Adams, and Cuban American singer/songwriter Jon Secada.
Eric, Bhagwan, and Alphonso are educators with advanced degrees in music history, African American music and jazz performance. They frequently give clinics on music history, jazz and the relationship between the spirituals/gospel, blues and jazz. Because of their immense knowledge of music, commitment to music education, and ability to teach diverse and international audiences, they have been sponsored by the Untied States Embassy as Kennedy Center/U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassadors touring South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. The trio has also delighted audiences across the globe at the historic Montreux Jazz Festival and in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dubai, Estonia, Honduras, Italy, Peru, Scotland, and Trinidad and Tobago.