By Dale Huffman
Tumust Allison, a Dayton schoolteacher, is channeling his personal talents of making beautiful music into changing young lives.
As a music teacher and a mentor, he has a gift of sensing potential and as a result he turns lives around and creates amazing musical proteges.
If you have heard the name Serious Young Musicians — you know of what I speak. It was 10 years ago that the young musicians in that group took the city by storm.
People who gathered on Dayton’s Court House Plaza stage at lunchtime for one of the first concerts by the young jazz performers returned to their jobs saying: “How can those youngsters create music like that? This is amazing.”
Those who have followed the group over the years will be pleased to learn that a 10th anniversary celebration concert is scheduled for Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Dayton’s premiere jazz club, Jerry Gillotti’s Gilly’s, 132 Jefferson St.
I will return for the 10th year, and along with my colleague, Dayton newspaper writer and professional musician Khalid Moss, will make introductions and help congratulate Allison and the young performers.
Back in 1996, after seeing that noon concert, I attended the next practice session of the performers and found young children, some from homes where it was nearly impossible for family members to support private music lessons or to purchase instruments.
Allison was working with them, using his own money to provide the instruments, often picking them up for practice and then returning them home.
In some instances I saw him giving them pocket money for special needs, and in all cases, being a positive, yet firm, influence in their lives.
One memory still stands out from that night when one of the members of the group, walking to the rehearsal, had been grabbed and assaulted in an alley, with young thugs stealing his athletic shoes. Allison went out and purchased new shoes for the kid.
“I taught these children music, but I also taught them about life,” Allison said. “It is a joy for me watching them mature, and grow — not only as musicians but as decent and good citizens. I always stress the whole person.”
He continued: “Being a part of the SYM group has kept some of the young people from falling through the cracks. I have enjoyed a number of success stories over the years.”
According to Allison: “We practice, we study, we rehearse. We study the great masters who came before us as well as studying recordings and videos. Before practice sessions we practice yoga for concentration and focus. The standards are high. So are the results.”
Over the last decade the group has met and in some cases performed on the same stage with stars such as Diane Shure, Al Green, Dave Chappelle, Regina Carter; and others. They have been featured in Down Beat magazine and appeared on the famous Apollo stage in Harlem.
Allison, who is a saxophonist and plays keyboards with the group, said he writes and arranges most of SYM’s music.
“I often create personal etudes and exercises for the individuals,” he said.
The current Serious Young Musicians are Craig Hill, 16, tenor sax; Tyrone Martin, 13, alto sax; and Marsalis Farmer, 16, drummer. Allison said former members of the group may stop by and sit in for a session or two Sunday, and that surprises are anticipated.
Tickets at Gilly’s door will be $10 for adults, $5 for teenagers from 13 to 17, and those younger than 13 will get in free. We invite you to join us for what promises to be an incredible anniversary session.
© Dayton Daily News