About Stephen Jay

Stephen Jay is a composer, bassist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. His original music is bass-driven, innovative, and exotic, blending world influenced polyrhythmic grooves with elements of Jazz and Rock. His combinations of ethnic and modern instruments and styles result in unique, richly textured musical images.

His background includes a BA and MM Graduate Fellowship in composition, USF, and studies with composers John Cage, Lucas Foss, Max Neuhaus and Charles Wuronien. His world music experience includes live performance and studies throughout West Africa. He was adopted into the Niamey Djerma Griot culture by master drummer Isah Hamani. From his field recordings Stephen produced 2 Two highly acclaimed albums for the Nonesuch Explorer Series. (see "Drum, Chant and Instrumental Music") He has also been a featured guest on NPR's "All Things Considered" with Robert Siegel on the subject of traditional West African music.

Stephen's bass recording credits include 4 Grammy winners and many Grammy nominated albums. He is the credited bassist, backing vocalist and orchestrator on "Weird Al" Yankovic's recent Billboard #1 album, "Mandatory Fun", also on 9 RIAA Gold and 5 Platinum albums, doubling on backing vocals, and other instruments including banjo, flute, keyboards, dundun, gulu, percussion and backing vocals. His past work includes bass performance and recording with Wayne Shorter, Hugh Masekela, Alex Acuna, Luis Conte, Rick Derringer, Isah Hamani, Joe Higgs, Betty Buckley, and Jimmy Haskell. He is an original and continuing member of "Weird Al" Yankovic's band, recording and touring since 1982. Stephen's own polymetric funk band, "Ak & Zuie", has toured the US, Canada, and Australia, and has appeared on PBS. He was voted one of "Today's 20 Top Bassists" by "International Musician and Recording World" magazine.

As a film composer Stephen has scored more than seventy nationally broadcast PBS specials and series episodes, including three George Foster Peabody Award winners, and has contributed scores and orchestration to other television shows and to feature films. His own Ayarou Music Library includes more than 4,000 cues and songs of every musical style and description.


"Stephen Jay's stellar bass playing induces goose bump moments. This is why I listen to music. Strong, particularly well-crafted songwriting, 'Self Avoiding Random Walk' is a must CD for any true music lover." -Joe Kelly, The Upper Room with Joe Kelly

"Stephen Jay's compositions range from high voltage and hard driving to exotic and delicate with endless wavelengths in between. Extraordinarily unique. His skilled bass playing borders on magic." -Steven R. Heard, PBS Series/Special Producer

"I have personally followed Steve Jay's playing for over a decade and it is difficult - if not impossible - to find another bassist who can play the number of styles including the range of tones altered per song. It is clear that a talent like this is very rare." -Elliott Rubinson, Dean Musical Instruments CEO

"Steve Jay defies categorization. Who else can play Bach counterpoint and Bootsy funk without missing a beat? And then throw down his own sound and style as distinctive and original as anything you.ve ever (make that never) heard. As a composer, he's a maverick architect of groove. Steve's songs assault you with intricate complexity, assuage you with timeless melodies, and elevate your soul with intense beauty and humanity." -Rob Mikuriya, Producer, "Futures" with Jaime Escalante

"Stephen Jay possesses that rare gift of the courage to stand apart. He is like no one else and that is his greatest strength. Steve harbors vast amounts of genuine personality and it shows in all that he does... his voice, his songwriting abilities, his humor and lyrical intelligence, and lastly, his skill at drawing the most beautiful of sounds from his instruments. It is well past time that the world realizes what gifts this man holds." -Warren Murchie, Editor, Global Bass Magazine

"Stephen is easily one of the most technically skilled, innovative, and melodic bassists alive. The music of his film and TV scores and his solo albums is genuinely astonishing." -Thomas Wictor, Bass Player Magazine