Special Event | Practicing Empathy: music, poetry, dance, and discussion

Event time: 
Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Off Broadway Theater See map
41 Broadway
New Haven, CT 06511
Open to: 
General Public
Event description: 

Collaborative performance featuring music, poetry, and dance, and discussion

Join little ray (ISM Artist-in-Residence Kenyon Adams) for a new collaborative work, originally developed at Grace Farms Foundation, exploring modes of empathy through artistic collaboration. Enjoy poetry by members of Adams’ student collective Primary Sources, experience performances by dancers Talli Jackson and Jenna Riegel (courtesy of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co.) with musicians led by drummer Jake Goldbas, woodwind artist Pawan Benjamin, vocalist Julia Easterlin, and pianist Fabian Almazan

The culmination of two days of art-making and conversation, this collaborative ensemble will seek to discover and promote the practices of empathy required for the work of advancing justice in our world. 

Video from the Grace Farms performance can be found here.


Jake Goldbas is a New York based drummer known for his innovative approach to combining world percussion elements with the rich tradition of jazz drum set.

Goldbas is a first call drummer for a wide array of musical settings, whether recording with Production duo The Knocks for their debut album on Atlantic Records or performing at the Java Jazz festival in Indonesia with Calypso Jazz Trumpeter Etienne Charles. Recently, Jake’s trio was featured at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola for a week featuring brilliant pianist and long time collaborator Christian Sands.

Jake has recorded and performed with artists as diverse as Dave Brubeck, Candido Camero, Patti Austin, Dave Liebman, Stefon Harris and Christian McBride. He is currently touring with Allan Harris, Olatuja Project, Etienne Charles and The Roy Assaf Trio.

A respected educator and clinician, Goldbas leads a band for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new education program “Jazz For Young People”. In this year’s season, Jake’s band will perform thirty three concerts in different New York City schools. Along with his wife Kate Christopher Goldbas, Jake is co-‐creator of an interactive concert series that reaches audiences with developmental disabilities and the elderly.

Jake earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) as a recipient of a Presidential Scholarship. He has received numerous awards, most notably from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. The Keep an Eye Jazz Competition in Amsterdam awarded Goldbas the Best American Musician of 2012. In 2010 he was nominated for a Grammy Award with Bobby Sanabria and the MSM Afro Cuban Orchestra on the album Kenya Revisited Live!!!


Jenna Riegel, a native of Fairfield, IA, has been a New York-based dancer, performer and teacher since 2007. Ms. Riegel holds an M.F.A. in Dance Performance from the University of Iowa and a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Maharishi University of Management. She has performed and toured nationally and internationally as a company member of David Dorfman Dance, Alexandra/Beller Dances, Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Dancers, johannes weiland and Tania Isaac Dance. Ms. Riegel began working with the Company as a guest artist in 2010 and was ecstatic to join the Company in 2011.


Talli Jackson was born and raised in Liberty, NY. He received his first training with Livia Vanaver at the Vanaver Caravan Dance Institute in upstate New York. He has been a recipient of full scholarships from the American Dance Festival in ‘06 and ‘08, the Bates Dance Festival, and the Ailey School. Since moving to New York City in 2006, Mr. Jackson has had the pleasure of working with Francesca Harper, Paul Matteson and Erick Montes. In 2013, Mr. Jackson was honored with a Princess Grace Award in dance, and was nominated for a Clive Barnes Award. He has been a member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company since 2009.


Pianist and composer Fabian Almazan, a native of Cuba now residing in New York City, found his musical roots as a child in Havana where he first became involved in the classical piano tradition. When his parents could not afford to pay for private piano lessons, having migrated to Miami, FL, pianist Conchita Betancourt was gracious enough to impart free lessons for three years. Thanks to Mrs. Betancourt’s generosity, Fabian was able to audition for the New World School of the Arts High School in Miami, FL where he studied from 1998 to 2002. In 2003, Almazan attended the Brubeck Institute fellowship program, where he studied with Mark Levine and performed with Dave Brubeck and Christian McBride.

In 2003, Fabian moved to New York City to study with Kenny Barron at the Manhattan School of Music, studying instrumentation and orchestration with Mr. Giampaolo Bracali. Almazan received the Cintas Foundation 2010/11 Brandon Fradd Award in Music Composition, an award that has been granted to many Cuban artists who have gone on to play an influential role in the development of Cuban cultural heritage. Almazan was also selected as one of six composers to participate in the Sundance Composers’ Lab where he studied with such acclaimed film composers as Harry Gregson-Williams, Alan Silvestri, George S. Clinton, Christopher Young, Ed Shearmur and Peter Golub. His solo albums, Personalities, which Fabian Almazan released on his own record label, Biophilia Records, and Rhizome [AritstShare/BlueNote Records] have garnered nationwide critical acclaim, including a glowing review in The New York Times. 

Since 2007, Fabian has been the pianist for the Terence Blanchard’s various bands, including the E-Collective which was nominated for a GRAMMY in 2016. Mr. Almazan has had the opportunity to perform with such artists as Linda May Han Oh, Gretchen Parlato, John Hollenbeck, Paquito D’Rivera, Mark Guiliana, Dave Douglass, Christian Scott, Chris Dingman, David Sanchez, Stefon Harris and Ambrose Akinmusire among others.


Saxophonist, Flutist, and Composer Pawan Benjamin, started his musical training at a young age in Madison, Wisconsin, receiving guidance and mentorship from jazz luminaries such as bassist, Richard Davis, AACM founder Roscoe Mitchell, and many others in the Madison area.

In 2006 he left to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he plunged headfirst into the diverse music scene of New York City, performing and recording with musicians from around the globe, across genres from Jazz, Hip Hop, Nepali Folk, Indian Classical Music and beyond.

Pawan has collaborated with artists such as Roscoe Mitchell, Ranjit Barot, Taufiq Qureshi, Rez Abbasi, Mike Stern, Candido Camero, Bill T. Jones and many others. Performance credits stretch across the globe at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), the Rose Theater and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center, the National Center of Performing Arts in Mumbai India, Goa International Jazz Festival, the Bimhuis and Blue Note in Amsterdam, and countless other venues in between.

Pawan is an active member of Brooklyn Raga Massive, a music collective which seeks to bridge the worlds of American and South Asian art of all kinds.


Julia Easterlin is an American singer/songwriter born in Georgia. She creates her music using a looping machine, which allows her to layer several recordings of her own voice, an effect which The Boston Globe described as a “One-woman a capella group.” She perfected this technique at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and later played in Berklee’s CMJ Music Marathon showcase in New York City. She continues to grow in popularity, most notably playing at Lollapalooza and SXSW.

Easterlin was born into a musical family. She cites her mother’s singing and her grandfather’s gift of a piano as formative parts of her musical experience. She moved to Augusta, Georgia at age 6, and enrolled in the school of fine arts. There, she learned about world music, jazz, and opera. Later, in 2007, she started studying at Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship.

To create her looping technique, she uses primarily a BOSS RC-50 loop station, a Shure SM58 vocal mic; sometimes she adds in a floor tom. The vocal looping technique has since been popularized by tUnE-yArDs, Andrew Bird, and Imogen Heap. Easterlin’s style can be described as a combination of several different musical styles which have influenced her through her education and upbringing. Her relatively experimental music includes elements of jazz, gospel, and Southern folk. She has named Björk and Philip Glass as influences.

She gave a TED Talk in Los Angeles in 2011, as part of the TEDxWomen event. She was named as one of only 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts for 2008. In 2015, Easterlin performed at the Stockholm Jazz Festival.