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Eli Staples and Aaron Malone
Breaking Bartok

Rewriting the boundaries between improvisation and classical music

Creating spontaneously improvised chamber music based on classical themes

Eli Staples and Aaron Malone perform at the intersection of classical music and jazz, using the themes of great composers as a jumping off point for improvisation in much the same way as a jazz artist would treat a standard.  


The result is a series of performances that are both respectful of the original works and wildly imaginative in their own right, and will delight classical, jazz, and improvised music fans alike.      

Video samples

A brief explanation of our process, using the Bach Prelude No. 2 in C minor

Improvisation on Romanian Dance No. 1 - Bartok

Improvisation on Bach Prelude No. 2 in C minor - full version

Improvisation on Ravel's 'Pavane pour une infante defunte'

About Eli and Aaron

Aaron Malone

Aaron Malone is a violinist, violist and composer, and a local to the DMV.  Originally from Los Angeles, Aaron spent his high school years studying performance with Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal Violist Evan Wilson, and composition with 5-time Grammy winning pianist & composer Billy Childs.


An active performer throughout the DMV region, he can be seen with such groups as gypsy jazz ensemble Hot Club of Baltimore, Americana band Justin Trawick & the Common Good, as well as the violin/piano classical improvisation duo with pianist Eli Staples.  He has performed at legendary local venues including the Kennedy Center, the 9:30 Club, the Birchmere, Rams Head On Stage, the State Theater, Pier 6 Pavilion, and more.  

As a composer, Aaron has had multiple performances of his works over the past two decades, includes the recent premiers of his Cello Sonata (commissioned by Duo Sorolla) and his Suite for Solo Piano (written for pianist Wan-Chi Su and commissioned by the Arts Club of Washington D.C.).


Aaron works in partnership with renowned fiddle player Ross Holmes (Mumford & Sons, Bruce Hornsby, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), with whom he recently co-wrote and recorded the orchestral arrangements for Country music star Tyler Childers’ new album, Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?  He also performed the album release concert with Tyler at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO, and will continue to perform live shows with through 2023.

Eli Staples

Pianist Eli Staples has been leaping across genres of music and styles since his first professional gig with a big band at the age of 16.  With formal training as a classical organist and as a jazz pianist, he might have ended up immediately in the concert hall, but it was in the diverse music scene and nightlife of Washington, D.C. that he found his inspiration.  He has performed in a vast array of genres including jazz, rock, R&B, cuban, Brazilian, funk, classical, and tango, and travelled around the world doing it.  


His credits include performances with pop artists Robin Thicke and Journey, touring with R&B artists Maya, Ashanti (both multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning artists) and K'Jon; jazz artists Nneena Freelon and Bryan Lynch (six-time Grammy nominee and Grammy award winner, respectively) and nationally-known contemporary jazz artists Karen Briggs, Cindy Bradley, Jessy J, Ken Navarro, Jaared, and Grainger.  


His career as a singer/songwriter features his intelligent and quirky lyrics supported by his lyrical and impressive pianism on his EP, Grand Theft Auto.


Some of his previous career highlights include opening for Prince with Mya at London's O2 Arena, appearing on the Today Show in Rockefeller Plaza with Ashanti for the release of her "Chapter II" album, and being a featured artist with the National Philharmonic at Strathmore Hall in Washington, D.C. 

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