Musical Performance: NYC Jazz Meets Maqam Festival: Anti-Elevator Mission

Sat, May 17, 2008 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

$15 ($10 Students with valid ID)

House opens 8:30PM

Danny Zanker (Bass and Compositions)
Amir ElSaffar (Trumpet)
Yutaka Uchida (Drums)
George Dulin (Piano)

Anti-Elevator Mission was formed by bassist Danny Zanker for two specific reasons: first, to give him an outlet to play his compositions the way he had always envisioned them, and second, to create music that is as rewarding to listen to as it is to play. This music is intended to bring the best out of the musicians who play it, and asks them to leave no part of themselves behind. The style is basically a mix of straight ahead jazz, Middle Eastern, African, heavy metal, blues and avant garde. It is played by a collection of fearless virtuosos who know how to go on some wild excursions but also how to dig into the emotion and lyricism of the tune at hand. Audiences in New York, Tokyo and several places in between have been awed by this powerful group.


Danny Zanker

Bassist Danny Zanker spent his youth in England, Israel and Texas. The resulting cultural confusion, coupled with a formal education in jazz, laid the foundation for his musicianship. Moving to New York in May of 1995 helped him consolidate all his influences into an innovative and exciting playing style which features elements of jazz, blues, Middle Eastern, heavy metal, funk and avant garde. Danny is also an accomplished and prolific composer, with his compositions representing a natural extension of his concepts on the bass: complex yet danceable rhythms, lyricism and lots of emotional intensity. He currently can be heard leading his quartet, “Anti-Elevator Mission”, at Smalls and Tagine. His playing is also prominently featured in Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra, the George Dulin Disband, the Yutaka Uchida Group, Souren Baronian’s Taksim, and Shusmo at venues which include the Knitting Factory, Makor, Joe’s Pub, Cornelia St. Cafe, and the BAM Cafe.

Amir ElSaffar

Born in 1977 near Chicago, Illinois to an Iraqi father and American mother, Amir was influenced at a young age by an array of musical styles, including Classical, Rock, Jazz and Chicago-style Blues. He was exposed to Iraqi and Arabic music at a young age, but his interest in this music would not come until much later. He attended DePaul University in Chicago, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Classical Trumpet in 1999.

As a Classical trumpeter, Amir recorded with Daniel Barenboim and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the 1999 Teldec release, "Tribute to Ellington," and was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 1997-1999, performing with such esteemed conductors as Pierre Boulez, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Maestro Barenboim.

As a Jazz trumpeter, Amir won two major competitions: the 2001 Carmine Caruso Jazz Trumpet Competition and the 2001 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Improvisation Competition, and has performed with esteemed artists such as Cecil Taylor, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, Randy Brecker, Miya Masaoka, and Samir Chatterjee, among others.

Amir's journey into the Iraqi Maqam began in his 2002 trip to Baghdad as he was seeking out inspiration for his Jazz compositions and improvisations. What was supposed to be two weeks turned into six months, as Amir became completely taken by the Maqam, and was determined to learn as much as he could about this rich musical tradition. He began studying Maqam singing and learning to play the santoor (Iraqi hammered-dulcimer). In early 2003, with the war looming, Amir left Iraq and went to Europe to continue his research under the tutelage of Maqam masters Hamid al-Saadi, Baher al-Rejeb, and Farida Mohammed Ali. Amir has now mastered a significant portion of the Maqam repertoire, which has very few surviving masters and is one of the most sophisticated and complex traditional music forms of the Middle East.

Yutaka Uchida

Born in 1973 in Tokyo, drummer/composer Yutaka Uchida studied the basics of music and trained his ears through violin and piano lessons in his early years. He started playing drums at the age of 16 and was heavily into hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock from 70s and 80s. He encountered jazz, particularly big band music, as he enrolled in Rikkyo University and joined New Swinginf Herd in 1992. The gorgeous sound of big band roused his interest in arrangement and composition, and he decided to explore that route at Berklee College of Music, where he studied with many acclaimed composers such as Ken Pullig, Dick Lowell, Ted Pease and Steve Rochinski.

He then moved to New York, where he has performed with numerous artists from different genres at some of the most notable venues in and around New York such as: Blue Note, Sweet Rhythm, Smalls, Joefs Pub, 55 Bar, Shanghai Jazz, Cornelia Street CafeL, Metropolitan Room, CBGB, CBfs 313 Gallery, Knitting Factory, Cutting Room, Bitter End, Crash Mansion, Don Hillfs, etc. His weekly appearance with Alan Rosenthal Trio, the hosting band for Sunday Open Mic at Cleopatrafs Needle, a long standing jazz club on the Upper Westside, is now widely recognized. Other current projects he is involved with include a high-energy avant-garde jazz group Anti-Elevator Mission, urban pop/rock band Mascotfs Distance, Japanese jazz/pop unit Love etc.

As a composer, he was awarded grants twice from Council on Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) for his original works, Premier Grant in 2005 and Encore Grant in 2006, and successfully held concerts at Greenbelt Nature Center.

His first CD "Living Together" was released in October 2007.

George Dulin

Pianist/Composer George Dulin grew up in Kansas City, Kansas surrounded
by music. After attending the 5-week Summer Program at The Berklee School of Music in Boston, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the college. In 1998/99, he recorded 2 albums of duets with bassist Bob Bowman, became the keyboard player in Kansas City jazz icon Mama Rae’s band, and was the pianist in The Boulevard Big Band, where they made an appearance at The Kansas City International Jazz Festival.

Under the influence of teachers such as Thomas McGah, Jack Jarrett, John Bavicchi, Vuk Kulenovic, Joanne Brackeen and Hal Crook , George studied composition and graduated with a degree in traditional composition in 2002.

Since then, George has lived in New York where he has performed at Birdland, 55 Bar, Cornelia Street Cafe, Detour, Kavehaz, The Garage and The BlueNote, among other clubs. He is an active member of the Josh Irving Quartet, a group that has performed at The Rochester International Jazz Festival in 2005. In January 2006, George finished a Masters in Jazz Performance at New York University, where he was an adjunct professor of Jazz Piano. He has studied with Jim McNeely, Kenny Werner, George Garzone, Brian Lynch, Chris Potter, Dafnis Prieto, Justin DelloJoio, and Panos Mavromatis. He has performed in a master class with living legend Cecil Taylor, and recorded with Teo Macero, John Scofield, Lenny Pickett, and Alex Sipiagin. He had won may competitions and awards.

George has recently formed his own group, The George Dulin Disband, with bassist Danny Zanker and drummer Take Toriyama, and recorded their first CD ‘Ride of Your Life’.

Last updated: 2008-04-07 23:21:29

Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

Alwan Auction 2016

Join Our Mailing List:



Classes are currently being scheduled. Please check back soon for updates.



There are currently no upcoming events.


16 Beaver Street
4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732 3261
Email Us

Alwan for the Arts is accessible to people with disabilities. Please call 646 732 3261 in advance, or, buzz at the door to arrange a ramp.

© 2020 Alwan for the Arts

Hosting donated by:, the Arabic Encyclopedia