New York-based saxophonist/composer Elijah Shiffer plays and writes music rooted in the jazz tradition, while incorporating elements of contemporary classical music and traditional music from around the world. His New York City performance credits include Cleopatra’s Needle, The Garage, Cornelia Street Cafe, Club Bonafide, The Iridium, The Metropolitan Room, Smoke, and The Stone.
Elijah's debut CD, "Unhinged", was released in April 2018 on OneTrickDog Records. The band on this recording, Elijah Shiffer And The Robber Crabs, is a quartet combining the influences of early jazz and avant-garde jazz. With the title track from this CD, Elijah won a Young Jazz Composer Award from the ASCAP Foundation. Elijah has performed with his own groups (which also include the Crown Heights Saxophone Quartet and Bearing Straight) at a variety of venues around NYC, from Silvana to ABC No Rio to Jalopy Theater to the Tea Lounge (now the Slope Lounge). He had a monthly gig in Bar Next Door's Emerging Artist Series, leading various trio lineups, in 2018 and 2019. Elijah currently plays regularly in two big bands: the Stephen Santoro Orchestra, which has a residency on Thursdays at Swing 46, and the Shrine Big Band which plays the first Sunday of every month at Shrine World Music Venue. He is a member of guitarist Xander Naylor's jazz/metal quartet Sound Machine; he has performed with them in Saratoga Springs, New York; Montreal, Quebec; and around the Burlington, Vermont area as well as a few NYC venues. Xander Naylor Sound Machine's debut CD, "Transmission", was released in October 2018. Elijah is also a member of the klezmer/jazz band Klazz-Ma-Tazz, led by violinist Ben Sutin; they have performed at several NYC venues including Cornelia Street Cafe, City Winery, DROM, and ShapeShifter Lab. Klazz-Ma-Tazz released their first CD "Tangibility" in September 2015, and their second, "Meshuggenah", in April 2018. From 2012 to 2016, he played frequently with vocalist Annette St. John on the weekend brunch sets at Smoke. In July 2016 he played at The Stone in a large improvising ensemble conducted by Tyshawn Sorey. Since early 2014, Elijah has been working for the jazz publishing company Second Floor Music. This company recently launched their updated website, jazzleadsheets.com; Elijah writes descriptions for songs on this site and is featured on a few videos on the company's YouTube channel. He has participated in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, and conducted compositions of his on the workshop's 2017, 2018, and 2019 big band concerts.
Elijah has participated in the Blank Space House Concerts, a series of performances in musicians' apartments around the city featuring mostly experimental and contemporary classical music. He has written for the chamber ensembles Xelana Duo, Tilted Arc, Du.0, and The Westerlies, as well as the Shrine Big Band. Elijah received honorable mention in 2017's inaugural call for scores by the composition collective ICEBERG New Music, with a piece he wrote for the ensemble loadbang. In 2014, he was commissioned to compose and perform a piece for the Hoff-Barthelson Music School's Contemporary Festival. In 2016, Elijah won the KCO (Klezmer Company Orchestra) Composition Award; this ensemble, based in Boca Raton, performed a composition of his at Florida Atlantic University. Also outside the New York area, Elijah was a member of the American Composers Orchestra's 2015 Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, at University of California, Los Angeles. In 2013, he participated in the Banff Centre's International Jazz Workshop in Banff, Alberta.
Elijah received both Bachelor of Music (jazz saxophone) and Master of Music (jazz composition) degrees from Manhattan School of Music. His teachers at MSM included Jim McNeely, Richard Sussman, Todd Reynolds, David Liebman, Donny McCaslin, and Steve Wilson. Other people Elijah has studied with include Barry Harris, Charles Davis, Jason Rigby, and Ed Palermo.
Elijah has always been very interested in birds. He is a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club, and has participated in their birdwatching walks in various NYC parks. He is also an associate member of the Linnaean Society of New York, and whenever he can he attends their monthly meetings at the American Museum of Natural History. In his compositions, Elijah often attempts to evoke or reflect the natural world within a jazz setting.