Born: January 17, 1969 Primary Instrument: Piano
Known within the guild of jazz musicians as one of the most sought-after performers on the jazz scene, the eclectic pianism of Isaac ben Ayala is a one-of-a-kind musical foray into the traditions of Jazz, Classical, African, Latin, and various Ethnic genres.
Ayala has worked with some of the most heralded musicians of our day including: Leon Thomas, Winard Harper, Boys Choir of Harlem and Quincy Jones. He has also performed with Ray Charles (on B-3 organ), Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Harris and Louis Bellson. Isaac ben Ayala is featured as pianist and composer (Gentle Spirit) on legendary alto saxophonist and flutist James Spaulding’s latest release Round To It. He has also Music Directed a wide range of musical theater productions including Generations, under the production of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, and Beehive (Arkansas Repertory Theatre Company). A commissioned composer at Karamu House (Cleveland, Ohio), Ayala composed and Music Directed the Swing Mikado. Possessing a Bachelor’s Degree in Historical Performance from the renowned Oberlin Conservatory, Ayala is an accomplished harpsichordist.
Mr. Ayala was pianist for The Boys Choir of Harlem (2003-2005) and eventually promoted to Principal Accompanist (2005-2007), Dr. Walter J. Turnbull, Founder/Conductor.
Just Off-Broadway, he has served as interim Music Director of The Three Mo' Tenors and performs with the production from time to time.
He created soundtracks for several PBS documentaries (Quincy Jones: In The Pocket [American Masters], Broadway: The American Musical [also American Masters]. He also is heard playing piano on Vanessa Redgrave's Evening (2007) and Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters. He can be seen performing (fender rhodes) on Dave Chappelle's Block Party as well as on The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize honoring Billy Crystal (2007).
Ayala's orchestral arrangements for New Orleans' legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band have been featured throughout the U.S. and Europe, most notably with The National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, (Washington, D.C.), under the baton of Marvin Hamlisch, with the Cinncinati Pops Orchestra, Eric Kunzel, conductor and with The Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra, Isaac ben Ayala, Guest Conductor.
With a uniquely profound and intuitive approach to musical improvisation and a vast knowledge of and respect for the many musical traditions he has studied, Isaac ben Ayala is typically electric, always swinging and his performances are always filled with many moments of beauty and meaning.