Award-winning guitarist, Jay Soto draws upon a diverse background to form his unique style. Studying drums at age five and classical piano at age seven, Soto picked up the guitar at age 12. His early years were diverse with sound, ranging from Beethoven to church hymns. All this exposure amounted to an early obsession for the pursuit of music. He continued his education as a young adult at Arizona State University.
Today, Soto continues his beginnings by honoring his church roots as the music director for St. Helen's Church in Glendale, Arizona. A consummate player and an accomplished composer/arranger, with song placement on such mega hit shows as “Sex and the City” (HBO) and “All About US” (NBC). Notable television stations such as the Weather Channel and Music Choice have played his music on a regular basis.
He was also the grand finalist in Guitar Center’s “Guitarmageddon” competition, the most respected guitar competition in the nation. He proved his talent immediately by winning the local, district and regional rounds and then made his way to the finals held at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar festival in Dallas, Texas where he played in front of over 15,000 people. In the end, Jay finished as one of the top unsigned guitarists in the nation. He is also a skilled vocalist and had the honor of singing the “Star Spangled Banner” for a presidential rally in 2004 at Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona.
Drawing from a vast background of experience as a sideman, Soto's role as the lead guitarist for acclaimed Christian group Vessel, gave him the opportunity to appear before thousands of listeners in major Christian venues with such notable acts as Margaret Backer, Jon Gibson, Whiteheart and The Newsboys. Soto was also the lead guitarist for Zum Zum Zum, a highly acclaimed Latin group based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Soto's involvement with the group taught him the finer points about Latin rhythms, which he now incorporates into his playing and technique. During this time in his career, he opened up for major acts such as Vikki Carr, Acoustic Alchemy and the Latin group, Cumbia Kings. These experiences and performances have seasoned Soto into one of the finest contemporary jazz guitarists of his generation.
His memorable melodies and impeccable technique are evident in his successful debut release, Long Time Coming, which has received outstanding reviews from critics everywhere and has opened many doors for this young and rising star. His self-produced debut caught the attention of the nuGroove label (Michael Lington and Down to the Bone) and producer greats, Jeff Lorber and Paul Brown. Under the guidance of producers Lorber and Brown, along with Darren Rahn (Wayman Tisdale, Jonathan Butler) and Mario Mendivil (Nelson Rangell), Soto would release his sophomore album, Stay Awhile in 2007.