A Reason to Live

Suggested price: $20.00

A Reason to Live is an event curated by J.Michael Harrison featuring Teodross Avery, Bria Skonberg, Robin Eubanks and Jean-Paul Bourelly.

Minimum price: $3.00


J. Michael Harrison

J-Michael Harrison’s first radio show, WPEB’s, “Is That Jazz” launched in June of 1993. In 1994 he began volunteering with WRTI as a production assistant. In 1996 J. Michael started his own show, The Bridge, which continues to air on Friday nights to this day.

The Bridge was selected as Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best Radio Program” in 2002, and in 2007, the Philadelphia City Paper called it the “Best On-Air Reminder That Jazz Didn’t Die in 1965.” The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and the Performing Arts made him a Stakeholder in 2016. He was presented the Above & Beyond award for Outstanding Contributions to Arts & Culture by the People’s Emergency Center in 2017, that same year the Jazz Journalist Association named him a “Jazz Hero.”

Since 2008 he has taught a master music journalism class at the University of the Arts. He’s presented lectures to students in the Philadelphia school system, Temple University, Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania. He has written liner notes, has sat on and moderated panels, has curated series, produced events, and hosted concerts in Philadelphia, NJ, New York City, and New Orleans.  He was executive producer on Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s 1999 CD BrotherZone. He’s worked closely with the Philadelphia Jazz Project, Jazz Philadelphia, Jazz Bridge, Jazz Near You and other organizations. “Music is truly my sanctuary, a reason to live, and a bright moment” he says.

Recently he has contributed to NPR’s Station Breaks, Slingshot and Jazz Night in America series and serves as executive producer for WRTI’s jazz video content on NPR’s Live Sessions, Facebook and YouTube.   Since 2018, he’s been dedicated to nurturing and cultivating a growing WRTI community engagement initiative in partnership with the Rainey Family of the POV documentary film Quest, directed by Jonathan Olshefski.


Teodross Avery

While deeply immersed in Hip Hop culture, breakdancing in particular, Teodross Avery heard John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ and quickly switched from poplocking to the saxophone.

After moving to New York City he performed and/or recorded with artists such as Amy Winehouse, The Roots (The Jimmy Fallon show), Masters At Work, Lauryn Hill, and Mos Def & Talib Kweli (Blackstar). His new album, Life And Musik, is a fusion of Hip Hop, Soul, uptempo Dance rhythms and Jazz.


Bria Skonberg

To most of us, the adventures of trailblazing triple threat trumpeter, singer and songwriter Bria Skonberg are borderline unbelievable. Born in British Columbia, Canada and now residing in New York City, the Juno Award winner for Best Vocal Jazz Album has performed hundreds of festivals and stages the world over, including New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and Montreal Jazz Festival. Described as “one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation” (Wall Street Journal), she has performed the music of Aretha Franklin alongside Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, played with U2 at the Apollo, sat in with the Dave Matthews band, was a featured guest with Jon Batiste and sang the “Star Spangled Banner” at Madison Square Garden for a NY Rangers game. Bria has been featured on over 25 recordings and recently released her sixth studio solo album “Nothing Never Happens” featuring mostly original compositions; Her music has garnered over 10 million streams online. Called the “shining hope of hot jazz” by the NY Times, Bria has been at the forefront of a revival of classic American music as both a performer and educator, programming concerts and workshops for students of all ages; She is currently developing educational activities for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and co-directs the New York Hot Jazz Camp she co-founded in 2015. A 6x Downbeat Rising Star, she tours constantly bringing her own signature sounds of fiery trumpet playing, smoky vocals and story-telling together with adventurous concoctions of classic and new.


Robin Eubanks

Robin Eubanks is an internationally renowned jazz trombonist, composer, and educator. Whether performing with his groups Mental Images or EB3, The SF Jazz Collective, or the Dave Holland Quintet/Big Band, Robin’s impact on audiences has proven powerful and lasting. Robin was born into a very musical family: His brother, Kevin Eubanks, was the musical director for “The Tonight Show”; their mother Vera is a music educator; another brother, Duane, is a renowned trumpet player; and their Uncle Ray Bryant was a prominent jazz pianist. Robin’s musical education began at the age of eight and continued through college, when he graduated cum laude from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. As a student, he studied trombone, Music Theory, Harmony, Composition and Arranging. Following his graduation, the young trombonist moved to New York City where he began a career that has yielded an amazing array of collaborations with such notable artists as Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Eddie Palmieri, Sun Ra, Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones, and Talking Heads. He’s won Grammys for his performances on Michael Brecker’s “Wide Angles” and Dave Holland’s “What Goes Around” and “Overtime.” In 2014, Robin won the Jazz Times Critics Poll for Best Trombonist and is a multiple winner of Downbeat’s Readers and Critics Polls for Trombonist of the Year. He’s also won compositional grants from Chamber Music America and an ASCAP Composer’s grant. Robin’s compositional interests are as diverse as his performing career. His compositions transition smoothly between odd meters in varying styles— from Swing or Funk, to Latin, 11/8, or 7/4 — without sounding forced or awkward. “This allows me to draw upon all of my experiences. I have the freedom to create forms that unite diverse influences into new structures that are organic.” Robin taught at The Oberlin College Conservatory for 20 years. He was a tenured Professor of Jazz Trombone and Jazz Composition. He also taught at Berklee College of Music and at New England Conservatory. In addition, he taught at Prince Claus Conservatoire in The Netherlands for five years. His compositions and arrangements are popular with colleges and universities throughout the United States and have been performed and recorded by many outstanding American Jazz bands, such as The Mingus Big Band, SF Jazz Collective, Dave Holland Quintet and Big Band, etc. He has recorded nine albums as a leader and contributed his talents to hundreds as a sideman. Robin has become a popular lecturer and Yamaha clinician and conducts Master Classes at leading institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad. Eubanks toured Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Croatia, Serbia, and the UK in 2019 alone.


Jean-Paul Bourelly

Jean-Paul Bourelly is an innovative and experimental guitarist, composer, and producer who excels at blending and bending various musical styles into cohesive expression. His thick assertive guitar sound is informed by his Haitian and blues roots growing up on Chicago’s south side.

He has led over 20 recordings as a guitarist, including Truth to Power, Stone Raiders with longtime associate bassist Darryl Jones, Boom Bop featuring the late Abdourahmane Diop and soon to be released debut Citizen X w poet Sadiq Bey. His work continues to lead him in a variety of areas including reworking the harmonics of the blues and a quest to formulate work inspired by west african, blues, dream states and groovy otherness.

Bourelly appeared on the album “Amandla” by Miles Davis as well as in bands with Reunited with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Pharaoh Sanders. He worked with rappers like D-Nice, created projects with noise guitarist Elliott Sharp, Vernon Reid, Dennis Chambers, TM Stevens, Melvin Gibbs and Cindy Blackman, and produced albums for Cassandra Wilson. His label and production studio JPGotMangos serves as a creative outlet for his most progressive projects and collaborations including his latest release Kiss the Sky.


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