Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Elias, Eric (Mitchell Victor)
Elias, Eric (Mitchell Victor), guitarist, bassist, educator, author; b. Anderson, IN, 26 August 1965. His parents (Robert, b. 1941 and Karen, b. 1940) moved to upstate NY when Eric was a toddler. After several moves around the Hudson Valley area, Eric's family settled in Oswego, NY (near Syracuse). While Eric's siblings (Sophia, b. 1986, Katherine, b. 1984, Julian b. 1969, Rob, b. 1964) took some music lessons or expressed interest in music, only Eric maintained a desire to play professionally.
He began by playing folk instruments like the dulcimer at age 11 and graduated to his first guitar a year later. Eric studied everything from folk to rock while in high school and developed an interest in jazz at that time. In 1983 Eric began studies in classical guitar with Lawrence Johnson at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY (B.S. in social sciences). Throughout his undergraduate years, Eric performed in several jazz combos, school ensembles, toured England with a fusion band and studied beginning piano. Eric then attended Bucknell University (MS Educational Psychology) and studied jazz and classical guitar with David Cullen. While in graduate school, he continued to perform in various groups and played bass for the Bucknell Jazz Rock Ensemble. Upon graduation in 1990, Eric returned to Rochester, NY and studied classical guitar with Norman Tibbils. He furthered his jazz studies with guitarists Steve Greene and Mark Manetta during this time as well.
Along with playing in a jazz group, Eric also played guitar for a gospel choir. It was at this time that he began performing as a solo guitarist in both the jazz and instrumental folk genres, blending his jazz and classical influences. Elias frequently performed in Toronto, played at several festivals, opened for Maynard Ferguson and performed with guitarist Phil Keaggy. In 1996 Eric moved to the Hartford, CT area and began studying jazz guitar with Rich Goldstein from the University of Hartford, often sitting in with Randy Johnston's guitar ensemble class. In 1999 Eric completed a diploma certificate through Guitar College (studying with Rich Severson) and received a Baldwin Scholarship to study Brazilian guitar with Joe Carter at the Hartford Conservatory. Eric has also received a scholarship to the National Guitar Workshop.
Elias continues to learn and perform on a variety of instruments including: upright bass, mandolin, banjo, alto sax, piano and percussion. He teaches private jazz, fingerstyle guitar and bass students and has developed a pedagogy for jazz guitar and bass instruction. While studying in the Hartford area, Eric completed numerous guitar arrangements and transcriptions of Charlie Parker's music, which have recently been published. In 1999 he began writing a column for Just Jazz Guitar Magazine on the fundamentals of improvisation and contributes interviews and photographs as well. Eric was twice selected to be included on recordings for the Connecticut Classical Guitar Society. He endorses Stromberg Guitars and has done numerous workshops for both Stromberg and the CT Classical Guitar Society. Eric was nominated as one of the best solo performers in Hartford for the year 2000, as well.
While Eric has increased his role as an educator, he continues to remain active as a performer and composer. He plays regularly with the Elias & Nelson Jazz Guitar Duo, performing unique arrangements of standards and original works. He also performs a solo guitarist and with various small combos throughout NY and New England. Eric's songs have been recorded on several local and national television shows. Eric is married to Carlita Rankin (b. 1970) and has one daughter, Kiara (b. 2001).
Recordings, Broadcasts and Films:
-Conversations With My Strings (1998); My Compliments (Elias & Nelson Jazz Guitar Duo) (2002)
-Contributed compositions and/or performances to: Robert Messore: Focus (2001), New England Landscapes- CT Classical Guitar Society (2000), The Gift of The Guitar- CT Classical Guitar Society (1999), Susana Lopes Band (1999), Wales Road: Traveling Mercies (1995), Susan Trump, The Tree of Life (1995).
-Cabin Country, Nationally syndicated PBS show. Composed the theme song and intermittent music.
-Simply Living, pilot PBS show, composed theme song and intermittent music.
-Entrada, local NY TV show, composed the theme song.
-About 10 unissued audio and video performances from various festivals and venues with gospel, folk, rock and jazz performers.
-Several live radio performances on WWUH (University of Hartford 1997-1999).
-Friday Night Folk, local television concert and interview (1996).
Works by Elias:
-The Fundamentals of Jazz Guitar Improvisation Volume I (Phunquie Pholk 1998)
-The Fundamentals of Jazz Guitar Improvisation Volume II (Phunquie Pholk 2001)
-Bass Guitar (Phunquie Pholk, 1999)
-Charlie Parker Transcriptions for Guitar Volume I Blues (Phunquie Pholk 2002)
-Charlie Parker Transcriptions for Guitar Volume II Jazz (Phunquie Pholk 2002)
-Arpeggio and Position Studies for Guitar (Phunquie Pholk, accepted for publication)
-Contemporary Acoustic Guitar Performance - Book and Video (Phunquie Pholk accepted for publication)
By Eric Elias and Joe Carter:
-The Art of Solo Jazz Guitar Arranging (Phunquie Pholk accepted for publication)
Numerous short publications including columns, interviews, articles and CD reviews in Just Jazz Guitar.
A variety of reviews about Eric's publications and recordings are in print as well (Just Jazz Guitar, Minor 7th, Jazz Improv, Free Time, City Magazine, The Hartford Advocate).