The soulful stylings of James Austin Jr., reveal his jazz pedigree and gospel roots. James, originally from Chicago, is an accomplished pianist and bandleader. He honed his craft under the tutelage of a number of legendary musicians, including extensive study with renowned jazz educator, Barry Harris. In recognition of his highly skilled musicianship, James has received numerous accolades and awards, including the honor of being selected as a semi-finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano competition. James has performed alongside an illustrious list of singers and musicians in diverse settings throughout the world, including numerous celebrity functions and televised shows. He recently served as pianist and arranger for two star-studded concerts at Carnegie Hall under the baton of esteemed musical director, Ray Chew. James is regularly featured in the New York City area as a pianist and bandleader for various live concerts, theatrical performances, and civic and charitable events. He has curated and led the NJPAC Jazz Jam series since its inception. For the past couple of years, he has also served as musical director for jazz phenom Miss Alexis Morrast. Songs in the Key of Wonder, James’ debut album, showcases his tasteful instrumental arrangements of a selection of classic compositions from the songbook of the great Stevie Wonder. James regards Stevie Wonder as one of the greatest composers of our time. Others have covered Stevie’s songs, however, James’ arrangements have a particularly appealing flavor and infectious groove.
Phil Bingham – Vice-President
Phil Bingham is Minister of Music Emeritus for Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, NY. He is also a music consultant with the New York City vicinity School Districts, and the cover conductor of the The Barry Harris 50-Year Concert Retrospective Concert Band, Orchestra and Choir. Mr. Bingham is a composer, arranger, and conference leader. He has conducted professional development workshops for both the secular and sacred music communities. Some examples of his presentations are “Worship Intentionally”, Worship Intonationally”, “Worship Contoured”, and “Worship with a discernible bridge to the various music traditions.” On our upcoming conference, Phil Bingham says, “Music is a potent tool for worship. A song can often touch people in a way that a sermon can’t. Music can bypass intellectual barriers and take the message straight to the heart. This workshop will provide you with valuable tools to assist you in selecting music that sets the theme for worship, enhances the sermon and engages the congregation. Activities may include composing and arranging music.”
Richard Clements – Vice President – Treasurer
Richard Clements is a pianist. In the 1970’s Richard played in various R & B bands in the northern California area. In the early 1980’s, he moved to New York City to pursue his Jazz studies with Jazz master pianist Barry Harris. Richard has worked with Clifford Jordan, Abby Lincoln, Leon Thomas, Charlie Persip and His Super Band, Clarence C. Sharp, Roland Alexander, Melba Joyce, and others. In 1997 Richard moved to Paris, France and joined the band of Archie Shepp. During this time he traveled extensively throughout Europe, Japan, standing with the Archie Shepp Band for five years. During the time Richard lived in Paris, he collaborated with Melvin Van Peebles, providing a piano soundtrack for one of his movies. In 2001 Richard moved back to New York City and directed the vocal workshop at The University of the Streets. Presently, Richard conducts a weekly piano workshop at Bill’s Place in Harlem.
Alan Lucas – Vice President – Secretary
Originally from East Harlem, NYC, Alan Lucas has a professional career that spans 46 years in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He worked as a Senior Systems Computer Engineer and Software Developer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Standard & Poors-McGraw-Hill, Bell Communications Research and AT&T. He also worked as a Project Leader and Senior Manager with the U.S. Federal Government. Alan’s educational background includes: BS Electrical Engineering and an MS Computer Science. He currently has Professional Project Management (PMP) certification with the Project Management Institute. Upon retiring from the Corporate Environment and Public Sector he is currently an independent Senior Project Management Consultant . Alan is the former Board Chair of the Madonna Chorale Organization, Brooklyn, NY and currently a Board of Director Member of the Jazz Arts Project nonprofit organization, located in Red Bank, NJ. Alan first met Barry Harris in 1987 while attending the workshops at the Jazz Cultural Theatre. In 1999 Alan and a work colleague designed and launched the first version of the www.barryharris.com website. Over the years this website evolved and was instrumental in promoting Barry’s schedule performances and teaching workshops. Alan also assisted and helped coordinate Barry’s itinerary and communications with the various program sponsors both domestically and Internationally.
Howard Rees – Vice President
Howard Rees is a Canadian jazz pianist, bassist and educator. He has performed with jazz musicians Charles McPherson, Ray Drummond, Barry Harris, Akira Tana, Leroy Williams, Earl May, Kenny Burrell and Jaki Byard. Howard spent a decade in New York apprenticing with jazz master Barry Harris. Upon returning to Toronto he founded Howard Rees’ Jazz Workshop, a school that has been home to more than 3,000 students over its 38 years. Howard spent a decade in New York apprenticing with jazz master Barry Harris. Upon returning to Toronto he founded Howard Rees’ Jazz Workshop, a school that has been home to more than 3,000 students over its 38 years. Howard produced the critically acclaimed Barry Harris Workshop Video series, the go-to resource for studying the late maestro’s world-renowned methodology. These materials were dubbed the ‘Bebop Bible’ by Tommy Flanagan, and are used by university-level jazz courses throughout the world.