Jazz Power Initiative, formerly The Jazz Drama Program, began as a collaboration between Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson in 1998.
Though officially incorporated as The Jazz Drama Program (JDP) in December of 2003, The JDP began as an idea through a 1998 “Meet the Composer/New Music for Schools Grant” awarded to jazz composer Eli Yamin and monies from The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.
That year saw a workshop production of a jazz musical composed by Yamin and Clifford Carlson. The resulting effort, When Malindy Swings, based on a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, was a smash success. National Public Radio’s Jazz Set with Branford Marsalis aired a 10-minute feature on the project nationwide.
This prompted Yamin and Carlson to write four more jazz musicals on their own over the next four years and in so doing, establish a groundbreaking idea in jazz education: to combine the power of experiential learning with story-telling and total immersion in the language and culture of jazz as a potent tool for communication, youth experience jazz across a multi-disciplinary curriculum, as it had never been done before.
The Jazz Drama Program was founded as a corporation in 2003 and received its tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) status in September of 2004.
In 2017, The Jazz Drama Program was rebranded as “Jazz Power Initiative” in order to broaden its scope and appeal and clarify the intent of its mission.