Announcing Silk Sound Asian American Jazz

Announcing Silk Sound Asian American Jazz



January 14, 2014 

The past eight years have seen continued successes for Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization, both in terms of the quality and quantity of our events and our ever-expanding audience.  Silk Screen’s new venture is Silk Sound, an Asian-American jazz-fusion ensemble comprising six internationally acclaimed musicians.

Rehearsals began last summer, and are continuing, with the first public performance during Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s inauguration celebration.


The group will have its debut performance on February 28, 2014 at Bellefield Hall, Oakland.

We have also been filming Silk Sound’s journey from its genesis to its performances, and produced a documentary titled “The Making of a New Sound”. After its initial screening next spring, the documentary will be made available to television stations in the country, and as an educational supplement to schools and colleges nationwide.

Many Asian-Western jazz bands have been condemned to relative anonymity and lack of due praise, largely because of small markets where the music could be shared.  Due to the rise of the Internet and extensive globalization, fusion bands in India and Pakistan have received remarkable success. Silk Sound intends to replicate this success.

The group currently consists of six musicians. Internationally renowned percussionist Samir Chatterjee’s achievements include performing at the 2007 Noble Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo Norway, hundreds of concert, festival, and radio performances, and faculty appointment of several prestigious universities. Mimi Jong has played the erhu since age eleven, and has created Jasmine Dynasty in order to teach children in Western Pennsylvania about traditional Chinese music and dance. Mimi Jong and Jeff Berman, who plays the vibraphone and mountain dulcimer, both perform in AppalAsia, an Appalachian-Asian fusion ensemble. Mr. Berman’s compositions were featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary “In Our Water”.

Recipient of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s “Create Achievement Award”, Saxophonist Ben Opie has played with a number of popular bands and orchestrates the “Braxton Plays Pittsburgh Plays Braxton” festival.  Guitarist Chris Parker plays for the City Dwelling Nature Seeks, but has performed with many other local musicians and Good Brother Earl. String bassist Matt Booth is an enthusiastic music educator and performer. He is a member of several musical groups. 

The Performers

Pandit Samir Chatterjee –Tabla

Tabla prodigy Samir Chatterjee hails from India, but currently resides in the New York-New Jersey area. His compositions are widely revered in India, having been featured on television, radio, festivals, and at the 2007 Noble Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo, Norway. He has paired with musicals legends such as sitarist Pt. Ravi Shankar; slide guitarist Pt. Debashish Bhattacharya; jazz pianist and composer Myra Melford; sufi-rock singer Salman Ahmad; and The Boston Philharmonic. He is a member of the jazz trio SYNC, the quintet Inner Diaspora, and composes and directs “Nacho Nacho – Gypsy Storytelling”.

Mr. Chatterjee is a faculty member for the Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, and University of Pittsburgh, among several others. Numbering among his other musical pursuits are   “A Study of Tabla”, which offers a comprehensive guide to the history and art of tabla playing and “Music of India”, a guide to India’s intricate musical history.  Mr. Chatterjee also founded “Chhandayan”, which aims to promote and preserve India’s music and culture.

Jeff Berman – Vibraphone

A New Yorker by birth, percussionist and mountain dulcimer-player Jeff Berman currently resides in Pittsburgh.  His musical repertoire includes collaborations with the Asian-Appalachian fusion band, AppalAsia; Irish folk singer Susan Mckeown; banjo-player Tony Trischka; and Tibetan vocalist Pasang Dolma. Mr. Berman’s compositions were featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary, “In Our Water”. For the past six years he has educated students at the elementary, high school, and college-level about his craft.


Mimi Jong – Erhu

Erhu virtuoso Mimi Jong has been a staple of Pittsburgh’s Asian music scene for many years. A native of Indonesia, she currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She has been performing on erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument found in classical Chinese music, since she was eleven years old.  Her performances have taken her to Germany, Spain, Indonesia, China, and a host of other countries. She has performed with Blue Pipa, an ensemble led by pipa virtuoso Min Xiao Fen; Karen Han, a fellow erhu virtuoso; the poet/activist Huang Xiang; members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; and she was featured in “The Gathering of Women”, hosted by the Mary Miller Dance Company.

Counted among Ms. Jong’s many accomplishments are her co-creating AppalAsia, an Asian-Appalachian fusion band. The group uses erhu, dulcimer, and banjo in order to facilitate cultural bonding and appreciation between two vastly dissimilar regions. Ms. Jong also co-founded Jasmine Dynasty, which teaches classical Chinese music and dancing to schools in western Pennsylvania.


Ben Opie – Saxophone

Like many of Silk Sound’s performers, saxophonist Ben Opie has spread his influence amongst a number of bands, schools, and regions. A recipient of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s “Creative Achievement Award”, he is currently a lecturer of music technology at Carnegie Mellon University, with former appointment at Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA).  When not teaching, Mr. Opie performs in the Thoth Trio, an acoustic jazz band named for the ancient Egyptian god of arts; Opek, based on the music of famous jazz pianist Sun Ra; and Flexure, a jazz sextet.

He has collaborated with the David Throckmorton Group, and played with Morphic Resonance and Coal Train. Mr. Opie also coordinates the “Braxton Plays Pittsburgh Plays Braxton” music festival, which showcases several concerts and collaborative performances by acclaimed pianist, flautist, composer, saxophonist and philosopher Anthony Braxton.

Chris Parker – Guitar

Guitarist and drummer Chris Parker currently works in the Pittsburgh area. He is the guitarist for Flexure, a jazz sextet, and is a guitarist and drummer for the folk group City Dwelling Nature Seekers.  His repertoire includes past performances with The Clarks, Opek, and Good Brother Earl.


Matt Booth  – Bass

Matt Booth grew up in Northern Virginia and moved to Pittsburgh in 2005 to study music at Duquesne University.  After graduating, he continued living in the area and has been active as a music educator and performer.  Matt is a member of the Americana band City Dwelling Nature Seekers, the David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti tribute act Silencio, the tango group Cuidado, as well as freelance work accompanying singer-songwriters and jazz musicians.  In 2012, Booth cofounded the Space Exchange, a weekly live music series at the Thunderbird Cafe.

Tickets are available online (, $35 (VIP), $25 (general) and $15 (Students)


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