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.

While varying drastically, 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 Hearsay, Ensemble Ziraph, and Akjai. 

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 co-curator of the Thursday night Improvised Music Series at Elastic Arts, a co-founder and audio engineer at Marmalade, a recording and rehearsal space in the West Loop, and along with close friend and collaborator Bill Harris, runs the co-operative record label Amalgam Music.