Ishmael Ali is a dynamic cellist, guitarist, improviser, and composer based out of Chicago. His work centers on exploring sound through improvisation, experimentation, composition, and collaboration, focusing on a wide array of idiomatic approaches in an ever-changing, always-growing list of projects informed by diverse influences.

Though varying drastically from group to group, a common thread in his work is the juxtaposition of seemingly disparate elements to create something new: both foreign and familiar.

Ishmael is leader or co-leader of a plethora of working projects including the KAH trio, Hearsay, Je’raf, Akjai, Archipelago, and Oido. He has also performed or recorded with Kahil El Zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Avreeayl Ra, Josh Berman, Jim Baker, Fred Jackson, Ed Wilkerson, Angel Bat Dawid, Jason Stein, and many more.

In addition to performing, Mr. Ali is a part of the Chicago record label Amalgam Music, a co-curator of the Thursday night Improvised Music Series at Elastic Arts, and is a co-founder and audio engineer at Marmalade, a recording and rehearsal space in the West Loop.