Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
ben Ayala, Isaac
ben Ayala, Isaac, (note the lower case 'b'; please list under Ayala, not under ben), pianist, composer, conductor; b. New York City, NY, 17 January 1969. He has a slightly older brother (Evan Charles Ayala), an 11-month-younger sister (Miriam Tonia Ayala) and a 60 year-old father (Gilbert-James Ayala). When he was 8 years old his parents were divorced. His mother, (Eleanor Pasler Soper), remarried and relocated to Albany, NY where she recently passed away. As far as his ethnic origins, they are rather multifarious. The name Ayala is Basque, with ancestry from the Canary Islands, Taino Native American and Africa (tribe unknown). The mother's side of the family (Pasler/Lulov) is Jewish, primarily from Belarus.
He received a Bachelors of Music in Historical Performance on the Harpsichord from The Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College, (1991). Also, Piano and Composition Studies at Oberlin (double minor), Hebrew Arts School (Merkin Concert Hall), Brooklyn College, Preparatory Centers at Brooklyn College and Julliard, and Mannes Pre-College Division. Harpsichord studies with Lisa Crawford. Classical piano studies with Efrem
Briskin (formerly of Leningrad Conservatory), Agustin Anievas and Joseph Schwartz. Composition studies with Richard Hoffman (personal assistant to Arnold Schoenberg), Randolph Coleman, Eric Ewazen and Roberta Kosse. Jazz studies with Neal Creque, Wendell Logan, trumpeter Kenny Davis, Hank Edmonds, and Danny Repole. Classical MasterClasses with Anner Bylsma, Franz Bruegen and Nigel North. Jazz Master Classes with Eddie Harris, Joe Henderson, Richard Davis and Stanley Cowell.
He has been the pianist with James Spaulding. He's had performances with Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Charles (on organ), Preservation Hall (tour of Greece 1997), Eddie Harris, David Murray, Frank Foster, Louis Bellson, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart and David Berger and the Sultans of Swing.
He's the Music Director of Generations by Danny Duncan (Produced by Ruby Dee and Ozzie Davis) and Music Director and Pianist of several theatrical shows. Assistant
Conductor, Pianist and rehearsal pianist for the Harlem Nutcracker (Donald Byrd Dance Foundation) appearing in concert and on the Tonight Show.
Music Director of student musicals at the Bronx H.S. of Science; currently director/Music Director at The Amadeus Conservatory, Chappaqua, NY for student musicals.
Frankie Laine: Wheels of a Dream (1998); David Berger and The Sultans of Swing: The Harlem Nutcracker (1999); Nick Scheuble: In The Pocket (2000); The James Spaulding Quintet: Blues Up and Over, Vol. 1 Live (2001)
Quincy Jones: In The Pocket, American Masters Series (2001). Film music composed and performed on piano for this PBS documentary as well as piano performance with Quincy Jones.
The Late Show with David Letterman: Quincy Jones (2001). Performed Soul Bossa Nova on the piano with Quincy Jones conducting. Other musicians on this big band date included: Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Grady Tate and Christian McBride to name a few.
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