David Boykin Biography

David Boykin is one of the most original and dynamic artists in the Chicago music scene.   He is a composer, bandleader, and a multi-reed instrumentalist performing on the tenor and soprano saxophones, the Bb soprano and bass clarinets, and the drum set.  He has received many grants and awards for his talents as a composer.  He is the leader of the David Boykin Expanse;  founder of Sonic Healing Ministries;  and an occasional collaborator with a few other artists. 

David Boykin began studying music on the clarinet at the age of 21 in 1991 and first performed professionally in 1997.  Since 1997 he has released 10 album length recordings as a leader and contributed as a featured soloist to other musicians’ recordings; and performed at major international jazz festivals and smaller jazz venues locally and abroad.

Groups and Projects

The David Boykin Expanse

This is an authentic Chicago South Side jazz ensemble for modern times.  They possess exceptional individual instrumental virtuosity and emote the deepest feelings.  The group’s size has varied but its current core consisting of flutist Nicole Mitchell, bassist Josh Abrams, pianist Jim Baker, and composer, saxophonist and leader David Boykin have been performing together for about 8 years.  Drummer Marcus Evans has joined them for the past two years.

With this lineup Boykin has recently added the infusion own hip hop style rhyming into the music without sacrificing the core elements of each.  These core elements being the rhythmic complexity, (especially swing feel), of jazz; the harmonic complexity of jazz; and the use of multi-syllabic words, varied rhyme scheme, alliteration, metaphor, and other poetic devices common to some styles of hip hop lyricism.

David Boykin Solo

(on reeds)

He is most interesting in this context through the use of circular breathing and multi-phonics.  Circular breathing allows him to create a continuous uninterrupted stream of sound.  Through multi-phonics he can produce a fundamental tone and one or more of its overtones simultaneously.  He utilizes both of these devices in a very lyrical way to singularly create music of symphonic magnitude and complexity.

(on drum set)

His approach to the drum set has the same effect.  It is not just polyrhythmic: with many rhythms being played simultaneously; it is better described as omni rhythmic: sounding all rhythms of all different time signatures, in all different places, starting and ending at all different times.

Sonic Healing Ministries

Sonic Healing Ministries is an organization dedicated to the evolution of the human spirit through music.  The crux of their mission is that artist consciously creates work that impacts themselves and their audiences in a positive manner with respect to their physical, psychological, and emotional well being.

Microcosmic Sound Orchestra and Macrocosmic Sound Orchestra are performing ensembles grown out of the initiative of Sonic Healing Ministries.  They create collective improvised music in which David Boykin is featured on the drum set.

Notable Performances


On the summer solstice, Wednesday June 20, 2012, composer and saxophonist David Boykin will perform a series of four solo concerts followed by a concert of his Solar Suite with the David Boykin Expanse augmented by Rene Baker’s Chicago Modern Orchestra Project.  All concerts will be accompanied by the projection of a time lapsed video montage of the sun’s path across Chicago’s landscape by Jayve Montgomery.

The four solo concerts will take place at midnight, sunrise, midday, and sunset: times that serve as titles for four of the five movements of the suite. The midnight concert will take place at a private venue/club to be announced.  The sunrise and midday concerts will take place at 63rd Street Beach. The last solo performance will take place at 8:29pm at the 63rd Street Beach House Promenade and will be a seamless introduction to the performance of the Solar Suite by the David Boykin Expanse and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project.

Jayve Montgomery will create a video montage, using time-lapse photography, of the sun’s path across Chicago’s landscape. He will digitally process it live and project it during each of the performances.

Wednesday June 20, 2012 – Summer SoloStice – 12:52am to 9:29pm

Solo Concerts – (solar) midnight 12:52am, sunrise 5:15am, (solar) midday 12:52pm, sunset 8:29pm 

8:29pm – 9:29pm Solar Suite performed by The David Boykin Expanse and The Chicago Modern Orchestra Project with projection By Jayve Montgomery

The event will be free to the public and will be cosponsored by the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project and the Chicago Park District. 

Quai Branly Museum – Paris, France – 3.22.2012 – Collaboration with bassist Josh Abrams and the Delbeque trio featuring drummer Émile Biayenda and bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel


Lublin Jazz Festival – Lublin Poland  - 4.17.2011 – David Boykin Trio

Estrada Poznan Poland

Jazzga Wooj Poland


Chicago Symphony Center – 05.23.2011

Guest Soloist With The Chicago Sinfonietta in the premiere of composer Renee Baker’s Divertimento Notte blu (for String Orchestra and friends)

Artist In Residence at Dorchester Projects

March and April 2011

David Boykin Trio - conducted a series of weekly open rehearsals of new compositions culminating in a live recording session of the works.

I.E. Performance Series - a series of improvised experimental genre crossing duets pairing himself successively with a dance/movement artist, a visual artist, a literary artist, a theatrical artist, and a film/video/electronic media artist.

The Spareroom, Chicago, Summer 2005

Stream of Consciousness – a multimedia collaborative performance with six literary artists.

The Spareroom, Chicago, Summer 2004

Elemental Vibrations – Improvised duets with five choreographer/dancers on the theme of the five elements.

Insight Arts, Chicago, Summer 2004

Egwu Onu – collaboration with choreographer Kieth Givens and the David  Boykin Expanse.

Chicago Cultural Center, November 2002

The Fifth International Festival of Movement And Dance On The Volga,

Yaroslavl Russia, August 2002

Jazz at Hermitage Garden

Moscow, Russia, August 2002

Banileuese Festival,

Paris France, April 2002

Chicago Jazz Festival, 2001

African Festival Of The Arts

Chicago, summer 2000


Hazel Boykin: Big and Fine

Sonic Healing Ministries 2012

Ultra Sheen

Sonic Healing Ministries 2010


Sonic Healing Ministries 2009

Transolo II

Sonic Healing Ministries 2009

David Boykin Expanse Live At the Velvet Lounge

Sonic Healing Ministries 2007

Victory Honor And Glory

Sonic Healing Ministries 2007


Sonic Healing Ministries 2007

Microcosmic Sound Orchrestra: Live At The Spareroom April 23 2005

Sonic Healing Ministries 2005

The Eye of The Beholder

Dreamtime Records 2004


Dreamtime Records 2002

47th Street Ghost

Dreamtime Records 2001

The Nextspiritmental Musics of Saxophonist David Boykin

Dreamtime Records 2001

Evidence of Life On Other Planets Vol. 1,

Thrill Jockey Records 1999

Evidence of Life On Other Planets Vol. 2,

Box Media 1999

Awards and Grants

Galaxy Award, Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, 2011

Illinois Arts Council Fellowship For Music Composition, 2005

CAAP Grant, Chicago Department Of Cultural Affairs, 2005

Arts International Fund For US Artists Performing Abroad, 2002

CAAP Grant, Chicago Department Of Cultural Affairs, 2000