The Mayi (mah-YEE) rhythm, named for the Haitian Kreyol word for corn, describes the work songs and music that gives thanks for agriculture. MAYI (mah-YEE ) is a concert that highlights the work songs of Haïti and draws parallels to the development of music amid the Black American Slave experience. Bassist Jonathan Michel leads Mayi, an informative and engaging focus on the melodies within the Mayi rhythm, the work songs of Haiti, and the parallels to the development of the Blues amid the Black American Slave experience.
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Born and raised in Waterbury, Connecticut Jonathan Michel is a bassist, composer, and arranger of Haitian descent. Michel is an eclectic artist known for his work as a producer and arranger, as well as performances all over the world.
Jonathan was first introduced to music by his father at the age of 4. By age 9 he’d moved from guitar to piano, to trombone before finally settling on the bass. After studies in Connecticut with Mario Pavone, Dave Santoro, Roy Wiseman and Pierrot Philibert, Michel moved to Philadelphia in 2005 where he quickly immersed himself in the demanding bandstand education that the city has to offer.
Based in New York City since 2010, Michel has since worked with a number of influential artists, including Orrin Evans, Aaron Goldberg, Andrew Cyrille, Terrace Martin, ELEW, Spike Wilner, Gil Goldstein, Dominck Farinacci, Bilal, and the Revive da Live Big Band. In December 2018 Jonathan released his debut album MDR on Imani Records. Having worked with singer Billy Paul as bassist and musical director for five years, Michel has formed a tribute project that highlights the jazz, social justice and hit-making aspects of the great singer’s career. In addition, Michel explores the sounds of his Haitian heritage through his ensemble L’Ouverture.
Placing a high value on the exploration and preservation of the Black American music tradition, Jonathan has devoted a sizable portion of his efforts to education. He has collaborated with several institutions including Philadelphia’s Clef Club of Jazz, The Litchfield Jazz Camp, Experience Ayiti and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Photo by Alexa Dumont