Eight years ago, Dayton musician and teacher Tumust Allison brought together some young talented musicians he found, took them under his wing and created what is now one of the better known young jazz performing groups in the Miami Valley.
The Serious Young Musicians wil celebrate its eight anniversary at 4:30 p.m. Sunday with a concert at downtown’s top jazz venue, Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St. “These years have gone by so quickly, and so much has happened,” Allison said. “we started on a shoestring, and we still pull it together without much of a budget. We have seen good time and had some problems. But the children always come first — and the music always wins out.”
As the group grows, some of the members move on to other things, and Allison is always recruiting youngsters to take part.
“We keep the door open.” he said. “We are always encouraging young folks to develop talent and fulfill dreams.” Allison said, “For many young people, being a part of our group has kept them from falling through the cracks. I wouldn’t change anything because I see only the success stories. I found out that i was not only teaching these young musicians how to play, how to perform and improvise, but I was helping developing character.”
He continued, “I stresses my players that they had to earn a place int he group and that they would need to be aware of discipline, respect, manners, and good citizenship. it is a pleasure for me to watch as these youngsters, early in life, learn what it takes to be a professional and a master of your art. And also what it takes to be a worthwhile citizen and a good human being.”
Allison is proud that some former members of his group are doing phenomenal things.
Aaron Holbrook, who was 12 when he started playing the horn with SYM, is now graduating from Stivers High School and has won a scholarship at the famous Julliard School of Music in new York City. Holbrook has met famous trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and is featured in an article in this month’s Downbeat magazine.
Christ McMahon, a former trumpet player in SYM, recently won top place in a national contest in Boston, and current sax player Craig Hill recently won first place in solo competition in Dayton high school competition. In addition to Hill, who is 14, the current member sof the group include Clarence Slaughter, 14, tenor sax, Mario Abney, 20 on drums, and Tyrone Martin, 11, on the alto sax.
Tickets for the eighth anniversary concert Sunday will be available at the door of Gilly’s. The cost is $7 for adults, $4 for teens and $3 for youngsters 12 and under.
Each year since the beginning, it has been my pleasure to introduce the group, and I will be back again Sunday to support the outstanding musicians. Allison, a music teacher at the Dayton Academy, said it seems as if the eight years have flashed by.
“It has been an incredible time,” he said. “We love encouraging the young people to study, work, prepare, practice and then to enjoy the fruits of the hard work. There is no better feeing than when we are on stage and we are really cooking, and everything is good and right. it is the ultimate good feeling.”