Eli has been working to develop a musical practice that is informed by critical theory and political activism. Artistically, he is particularly focused on how cultural and economic symbols mediate social relations (ideology, social reproduction, etc). Eli is interested in exploring ways economic and ideological influences on music might be disrupted artistically, thus creating a genuinely creative practice that is emotionally healing for both the listener and practitioner. This has led him to an interest in non/pan-idiomatic improvisation, experimental notation that gives rise to a multiplicity of outcomes, and the use of liminal perceptual frameworks.
Originally from a Syrian/Lebanese community in Charleston, WV where he studied with Chuck Biel and Ken Tacket, Eli now lives in Chicago where he performs on and teaches both the electric and double bass, regularly collaborating with folks from Chicago’s Folk, Jazz, Improvised Music, and New Music communities. He also teaches guitar, piano, drums, and voice. Eli holds a performance degree from Columbia College Chicago where he studied upright and electric bass with Chuck Webb, and Dan Anderson, and piano, composition, and improvisation with Dennis Luxion, among others. He has also studied double bass with Anton Hatwich, and Greg Sarchet of the Lyric Opera.
Understanding that it is the critically minded artist's responsibility to connect their artistic practice concretely to political struggle, Eli also engages in work with Chicago's rich plethora of activist communities and has been working towards contributing to the development and dissemination of a critical theory that serves as an adequate and practical analytical tool. Specifically this has meant exploring the idea that socioeconomic ills – ranging from ideology, to political economy, to the multitudes of activist organizing issues – stem from a lack of epistemological reflection: i.e. representations, such as money and identity, are mistaken for concrete reality.
Some of Eli’s frequent collaborators both past and present include: Ishmael Ali, Luis Fernando Amaya, Danny Andrade, Jessica Aszodi, Emily Beisel, Jim Baker, Can I Get an Amen, Carol Genetti, Zachary Good, Alex Grimes, Gerrit Hatcher, Anton Hatwich, Bill Harris, Sam Trump Harris, Spencer Jenich, Jeff Kimmel, Chris Kimmons, Lia Kohl, Old Lazarus’ Harp, Peter Maunu, John McCowen, Nick Meryhew, Ryan Packard, Matt Roberts, Phil Sudderberg, Shavasana, Katherine Young, and Bethany Younge.
Eli works with Phil Sudderberg on a DIY record label called Gilded Records.
Also, if it helps to give some context -- I do suggest that you not make assumptions based on these labels because they are quite broad and do not represent fixed phenomena -- Eli is 2.75th generation Syrian/Lebanese, non-binary, kind of queer, kind of a redneck, and is sometimes seen as a mother or grandmother like figure (or so he is told by those closest to him).