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David Arnay

Pianist David Arnay, born in New York City, spent his formative professional years in Ithaca, New York. His keyboard work was integral to a series of original musical projects including a lengthy collaboration in the eclectic Zobo Funn Band with influential guitarist/composer David Torn.

In Los Angeles, Arnay was recruited in 1994 by jazz woodwind legend Bennie Maupin for his new quintet. The group thrived for several years, performing Arnay's compositions along with Maupin's. “Playing with Bennie brought me to one of the coolest branches of the jazz family tree. He really helped me to listen more carefully, to leave more space and respect silence. A true mentor.”

In 1997 Arnay released his first CD as a leader, “Daddy's Groove,” (Band Together Records). The disc featured woodwind performances by Maupin and Bob Sheppard, with drummer Peter Erskine and bassists Alphonso Johnson and Dave Carpenter. Daddy’s Groove received national distribution and strong reviews.

Arnay's second CD release as leader was the self-produced trio project, “Blues... And Then Some” (Studio N, 2003), with drummer Dave Tull and bassist Larry Steen. The CD remains in regular rotation in Los Angeles (KKJZ) and Seattle (KPLU).

David played guitar and keyboards for the original Los Angeles production of the Broadway hit musical RENT starring Neil Patrick Harris in over 250 performances. Self-taught since childhood on guitar, bass and drums, the paths he finds on these other instruments contribute to his compositional process.

Arnay performs regularly in L.A. as a soloist, leader of his own jazz group, and as a busy sideman. He’s been in residence at the luxe supper club Parkway Grill in Pasadena since 1989. He continues to cross boundaries, performing in a broad spectrum of styles. His music is energetic and accessible, rooted in the jazz mainstream, charged with eclectic influences. After performing in Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland and Japan, he is eager to reach the international jazz audience with his most recent album “8.”

David was invited to join the USC Jazz Studies faculty in 1999, after completing the master’s degree program. As a teacher, introducing newcomers to the jazz tradition and approach continues to be especially rewarding. “When a classically trained player discovers that it’s possible to create music without relying on a written score, it’s like watching a creature being born.”


"David brought his A-game to this ambitious project, and I'm proud to be the drummer on the album.” — Peter Erskine

“The music of David Arnay is the fresh work of a serious artist whose time has come. Each track is filled with brilliant improvisations created by passionate musical minds. This beautiful project is an outstanding sign that jazz is absolutely in great hands.” — Bennie Maupin

“David Arnay has assembled a series of tunes with varied orchestration that tells an interesting and compelling story. His writing and playing are first rate, and the music has a great sound and feel to it

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Self Produced


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