The Neo Collective
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The Neo Collective

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Funk




"More musical efforts to raise money for Alabama tornado relief"

Yesterday we reported on several projects and events raising money in an effort to support recovery efforts following the April 27 tornadoes that hit much of Alabama. Today we've heard about a few additional efforts.
Birmingham Art and Music Festival's BAAM Aid! will take place from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at Rogue Tavern, and money raised will go to tornado relief funds. Tickets are $10. Organizers also encourage donations of non-perishable food, baby care items and more for the Red Cross. The event's lineup includes Neo Jazz Collective, Mile Marker 7, Skyway Spirits, Omari Jazz, Josh Vasa, Erin Mitchell and The Arrangement. Find more on the BAAM! Aid page on Facebook.
Tuscaloosa and Birmingham bands will come together Wednesday at Bottletree for a benefit show, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting relief efforts. The lineup includes Jesse Payne, Hurl Yeah, Mover the Island, Wilder Adkins, Fire Mountain, Jomp and Pyrite Parachute. The $10 tickets are available at
The inaugural Secret Stages downtown music festival will take place on May 13 and 14. Organizers have announced that 20 percent of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Birmingham Dream Center, a Church of the Highlands-run organization that is providing social services and clean-up assistance to those affected by the tornadoes. - Birmingham News

"Young players in Fairfield's Neo Jazz Collective have a sound for all ages"

It’s quiet on Gary Avenue on a recent Saturday afternoon except for the happy sounds coming from an aging storefront in downtown Fairfield.
A man across the street finds shade from the high noon sun as he soaks up the music.
A gray-haired woman leaves a nearby hair salon and says, “Sounds good,” as she ambles to her car.
They are listening to the Neo Jazz Collective, a group of 14 musicians and singers whose members range in age from 12 to 19.
Although the jazz group is young in age, some consider the group’s talents in playing a mixture of funk, jazz, neo-soul, reggae and R&B to be on par with adults. They’ve performed at City Stages, the Taste of Fourth Avenue Jazz Festival, galas, banquets and more. Every Friday night, they have a jam session at the Magic City Grille in Fairfield.
The Neo Jazz Collective includes:
Lud Yisrael, founder and director
Isaiah Fogle, 12, drummer
Kayla Wheeler, 12, singer
Yah’el Yisrael, 13, keyboard
Roy Cox, 13, singer
Yehosheba Yisrael, 14, bass
Israela Williams, 14, singer
Adam Guthrie, 15, guitar
Brad Fancher, 17, trumpet
Yirmeyahu Yisrael, 18, tenor sax
Jeronne Ansari, 18, alto sax
Whitney Mitchell, 19, lead singer
Sam Albright, 18, bass
Noah Albright, 14, bass
Crystal Howard, 25, trumpet (volunteer instructor)
For more information on the group:
The group also has one CD to it’s credit, “Neo Jazz Collective Volume I,” and plan to cut another one sometime this fall.
“I love them. When I used to work at Vulcan Park, we used them for events there,” said Evelyn Holman, a graduate student at Birmingham Southern College. “You can tell they love what they do. It’s just a pleasure to listen to them.”
Band members say they like to work at making their performances memorable. By noon every Saturday, they are in place for practice.
From Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” to standard jazz numbers, perfection is the name of the game for this group.
“Music is something I wanted to do and this band allows me to play in front of people and get experience to become a better musician,” said Jeronne Ansari, 18, the alto saxophone player and one of the founding members.
“This is the perfect place I need to be.”
Their musical director is Lud Yisrael, 44, who founded the group in 2004 after adults in a band he belonged to wouldn’t show up for practices.
What started as a gathering of a few youths with Yisrael, including Yisrael’s then-13-year-old son, Yirmeyahu Yisrael, on tenor sax, eventually grew into a group of youths yearning to polish their musical skills and play for others.
They respect each other, write songs and share ideas to make the band better. Tardiness, bad attitudes and bad grades are not tolerated.
Ree ' Al , a Birmingham R&B artist and showmanship and voice coach
Crystal Howard, brass instructor
Sharon Fogle, voice coach and parent of a Neo Jazz Collective member
Sherwanna Wheeler, voice coach and parent of a Neo Jazz Collective member
David Curtis, guitar instructor
Carlos Fair, drum instructor
“A band is like a unit in an army,” said Yirmeyahu Yisrael, who will turn 19 later this month. “Everybody has to have the same mentality about what they want or otherwise it’s not going to be pleasing to the listeners.”
Yirmeyahu Yisrael knows how to play seven instruments, a talent that comes in handy when another member is unable to make a performance. His father encourages members to learn other instruments. Their lead singer, Whitney Mitchell, started out on the trumpet before she moved over to singing.
“In this world you need to be versatile. You don’t want to be a one trick pony,” said Lud Yisrael.
Lud Yisrael, who handles the soundboard and knows how to play six instruments, will even jump in and play to fill a vacancy. The only thing he doesn’t do is sing.
He leaves that up to the group’s four singers, whose voices connect with audiences.
“They’ve just got a flavor that I thought was really, really good. They made me think of a lot of the older” singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James, said Andrea Watson, who booked the group for Birmingham’s Weed and Seed annual awards banquet in July. “We had rave reviews from our event and people were just impressed at how well they did.”
Several Neo Jazz Collective members volunteer and teach students at the Neo Jazz School of Music, which is located in the Fairfield storefront where the Collective holds its Saturday practices.
The jazz school was started in January by Lud Yisrael as a way to expose students to different kinds of music.
When the Neo Jazz Collective finishes its Saturday practice sessions, students show up at the school at 2 p.m. for free lessons. The school also offers paid lessons during the week.
Volunteer teacher Crystal Howard said the Neo Jazz Collective and the school help students develop character and networking skills. Their talents also expose other children to the possibilities of what th - Birmingham News

"BAAM Fest 2011 Roll Over Birmingham"

On a tip from Sound Engineer, Danny Everitt, I actually got up before noon to go catch the Neo Jazz Collective at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute performing a complete Bob Marley set. What a great group of Kids. They sounded great from horns to guitar to vocals that featured Carlito and a trio of girls doing great back up and lead vocals. It was probably one of my favorite sets of the weekend - The Nashville Bridge


Neo Jazz Collective Volume I (December 2009)
The Genesis Project (September 2011)



The Neo Collective is a group of young, gifted, professional musicians ranging in age from 11 years old to young adults. Despite band members ages, The Collective blends a well-seasoned mixture of jazz, R&B, funk, and neo-soul. The Collective started in Fairfield, Alabama by its founder and director, Dr. Lud Yisrael in 2004. The band itself spawned out of Dr. Yisraels frustration with professional adult musicians. Most would not show up to rehearsal consistently, but appear for gigs to get paid. His high standards for musicianship prompted Dr. Yisraels refusal to book anymore gigs until his adults cleaned up their acts. Needless to say, that was the beginning of the end.

After going through a number of adult musicians, Dr. Yisrael knew something had to change. He took dedicated musician, guitarist David Curtis and bassist Jabari Brown, his then 13 year old son, Yirmeyahu Yisrael on tenor sax and a keyboard with a drum machine and formed The Neo Jazz Collective.

The band quickly expanded to include trumpeter Whitney Mitchell who soon became the voice of The Collective, alto sax Jeronne Ansari, and drummer Stephon Hundley. All were 13 upon joining the group. Dr. Yisraels eight year old son, Yah el Yisrael eagerly learned one song on piano which he performed at a benefit concert with the band. He wasnt officially a member until he could learn all 12 songs on the show list. He did and became the piano player for The Collective just before his ninth birthday.

Additional gifted musicians to join were then bassist Sam Albright and his younger brother Noah Albright joined recently and 13 year old drummer extraordinaire Isaiah Fogle. Dr. Yisrael's children have all followed the family tradition of music with the recent addition of 15 year old daughter Yehosheba "BassGirl" Yirael, who promptly took his place as the bass player for the Collective. More recent members of the group include; 13 year old Kayla Wheeler who started as background and has worked her way up to lead vocalist, 16 year old guitarist Adam Guthrie, 19 year old drummer Josh Stringer, and 19 year old background vocalist Jasmine Reese.

The Collective is equipped with youth and diversity. Their presence in music industry will significant for years to come.