By Dale Huffman
The beat goes on.
An outstanding group of young jazz musicians that took Dayton by storm seven years ago known as the Serious Young Musicians still makes numerous appearances and packs venues in the Miami Valley.
From time to time, the makeup of the group change as the youngsters grow up and move on, but the quality of the work continues, and these kids can still blow you away.
At 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the latest edition of SYM will be making the seventh annual anniversary appearance at Gilly’s, 132 Jefferson St., downtown.
Among other honors, the young performers are on their way to New York City this year for an appearance at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater.
They won the right to appear there when they competed with 300 other acts and tooktop place.
“The kids are really pumped up and ready for the Apollo, but ﬁrst we want to give the best concert ever for our hometown fans and friends,” said Tumust Allison, director of the group. “It’s a tradition.”
Allison, a veteran Dayton musician who is a music teacher at Dayton’s Edison Elementary School, founded the SYM group in 1996 to give a hand to young musicians who had potential but little support.
“Some of the youngsters I was hearing had talents that just could break away from the conventional,” Allison said. “I was just so eager to give them something over and above the traditional musical training. I wanted to give them a chance to let go and be unique,and innovative, and expressive.”
Using his own money and donating his time and talents, the group was born.
“I found that I was not only teaching these youngsters how to play jazz and how to improvise , music – but I was helping ‘ develop character,” Allison said. “I stressed that in being a member of the group, the kids would need to be aware of discipline, respect, manners and good citizenship. They are getting an early chance in life in learning what it takes to be a professional, and a master of your art.”
Sitting back and smiling, Allison added, “It has been a pleasure for me to see how this has touched some young lives. Seven years have come and gone, and it is so fulﬁlling to help these youngsters who might have fallen through the cracks.”
With Allison accompanying them on keyboard, members of the current SYM roster are Craig Hill, 13, on tenor sax; Clarence Slaughter, 13, tenor sax; Tyrone Martin, 10, alto sax; and Chris McMahon, 18, on drums.
McMahon is the only original member of SYM who is still with the group. He was 11 when he first joined, and through the years has played trumpet and saxophone in addition to drums.
According to Allison, former members of the group are invited to be there Sunday and will be asked to sit in for a session or two.
Each year since the beginning it has been my pleasure to introduce the group, and I will be back again Sunday, along with Dayton jazz pianist Khalid Moss, to support the anniversary concert.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $2 for children at the door.
But, according to Allison, “No youngster who wants to see the show will be turned away, if they don’t have the two bucks. It’s better for them to enjoy some music than to be on the streets.”
© Dayton Daily News