Since the mid-seventies, Ellen Christi has steadily gained ground as an important contributor to American improvised music and contemporary jazz. As a composer/vocalist, Ms. Christi has worked in varying performance venues ranging from multi-media theatrical productions to solo vocal concerts. She has also been an active advocate in supporting innovative performing artists through organizations that she has co-founded or directed.
Ms. Christi came to New York in the nascent period of the downtown loft scene. Jimmy Hopp was a positive catalyst introducing her to a musicians' collective at 501 Canal Street. And it was there that she lived and performed for many years with Tom Bruno, Ray Anderson, David Ware, Dave Burrell, and Coopermore.
Ms. Christi studied piano technique, composition, and arranging with Jaki Byard, an internationally acclaimed pianist/composer and a professor at the New England Conservatory of Music. She studied the bel canto technique with Galli Campi, a coloratura singer with the Metropolitan Opera. Earlier on in her career, she studied vocal technique and movement with Jeanne Lee, an avant-garde jazz vocalist. Presently, Ms. Christi is working with vocal coach, Dr. Virgina Davidson, composer/conductor and founder of New York Treble Singers.
Ms. Christi was one of the co-founders of New York City Artists' Collective, a non-profit organization committed to developing creative independence for artists, fostering appreciation of visual and performing arts, and record documentation/ production (N.Y.C.A.C. Records). New York City Artists' Collective was housed at 501 Canal Street, one ofthe prominent loft performance spaces of the 70's in Tribeca.
She is also the founder of Network Records, an independent record label promoting contemporary jazz music.
She has received numerous grants and commissions from the New York State Council of the Arts and Meet the Composer as well as having received varied commissions for dance and theater performances throughout the years. Her most recent commission has been funded through the prestigious Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. She is currently performing and teaching master classes in vocal technique/improvisation and movement throughout the United States and Europe.
Ms. Christi has been performing and recording with musicians in the United States and Europe for the past twenty five years. She has worked with: Tom Bruno, Ray Anderson, Mark Dresser, Andrew Cyrille, Reggie Workman, Rashid Ali, Tony Scott, Ed Blackwell, William Parker, Lisa Sokolov, Jeanne Lee, Kenny Wheeler, Steve McCall, Rahn Burton, Roy Campbell, Lawrence "Butch" Morris, and Hans Koch.
For the past twelve years, she has been collaborating with Fiorenzo Sordini, Claudio Lodati, Carlo Actis Dato, and Enrico Fazio in Italy. In Switzerland, she has been performing and recording with Thomi Hirt , Fritz Heigi, and Pit Gutmann of the trio, Illustrio. Currently she is working with Joe Gallant's Illuminati, a 22-piece ensemble,as well as performing and producing concerts with her present performing ensemble, Aliens' Talk. She is developing a world music project with Vincent Nguini of Cameroon. And the most recent recording project is with bassist, Habib Faye and balafonist, Babacar Konate of Senegal. A great portion of her time has been spent working as a producer for Bliss Corporation, a euro dance music production company in Torino, Italy.
Photographer: Janis Wilkins