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Ayumi Ishito

Ever since she made New York City her home in 2010, Ayumi Ishito became one of the busiest saxophonists on the scene. Throughout her illustrious career, in addition to performing as a sidewoman and with her own projects on the East Coast, her music has ta

About Me

Ayumi Ishito was born and raised in Ishikawa, Japan. At the age of 4, Ayumi began her musical studies on classical piano. As she grew up, Ayumi became interested in playing different kinds of music other than classical music such as movie songs, pops, and classic jazz standards. At the age of 19, she began playing tenor saxophone in a student big band at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. One year after joining the band, she began studying tenor saxophone and jazz improvisation with Hiroshi Ozone in Kobe. The influence of tenor sax greats including Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, and Wayne Shorter as well as Lester Young drew her more deeply into jazz. During her senior year of college, Ayumi became a featured soloist of the big band performing at well-known jazz festivals and contests such as Osaka-jo Jazz Festival (Osaka ’03) and Yamano Big Band Jazz Contest (Tokyo ’03). Within that time frame, Ayumi worked with several other small groups including a ska/reggae band “Djan Drakes”(’02-04), recording and touring extensively in the Kansai area, Japan. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University, Ayumi turned her activity back to her hometown, Kanazawa, Ishikawa. In Kanazawa, she formed a jazz quintet “Quintuplet,” performing at local clubs and festivals. In 2005 and 2006, Quintuplet was selected as the opening band for a famed annual jazz festival called the “Big Apple in Nonoichi”. There she had a chance to perform with Kenny Washington, Peter Washington, Terrell Stafford, and Benny Green. Besides Kanazawa, Ayumi played at Blue Note Osaka and Kobe Mosaic Jazz Festival with renowned pianist Minoru Ozone in 2005. In 2007, Ayumi received a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She spent three years there studying performance, composing and arranging. At Berklee, she studied with Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Hal Crook, Ed Tomassi, and Frank Tiberi who among others have been her biggest influences. Along with her musical studies and development, she also shared the stage with many notable faculty members at Berklee including Frank Tiberi, Jeff Stout, Lin Biviano, Marcello Perittelli, and a host of others. After graduating from Berklee in 2010, Ayumi moved to New York where she immediately found herself immersed in the jazz scene. She began to place herself in jam sessions at New York’s hot jazz spots such as Smalls and Fat Cat, playing with some of the leading jazz musicians including Roy Hargrove, Joel Holmes, Ambrose Akinmusire, Wes Anderson, Greg Osby, Maurice Brown, and Johnny O’Neal, just to name a few. Shortly afterward, Ayumi joined the “Matthew Albeck Group” performing in the Brooklyn area as well as the “Leon Lacey Orchestra” led by composer, arranger and producer Leon Lacey. As of now, Ayumi is leading her own quintet, developing a style and a concept of her own, which comes from deep throughout her life experiences and personality while being rooted in jazz tradition. Her original music, having been performed at clubs throughout New York City, will appear on her upcoming album.