Fluent in conventional scoring techniques and a full range of musical styles, Stephen Jay specializes in combining ethnic and modern instruments to create a blend of the exotic and contemporary. He has scored more than fifty nationally broadcast PBS specials and series episodes, including three George Foster Peabody Award winners, and contributed to several feature films.
His background includes a BA and MM Graduate Fellowship in composition and studies with composers John Cage, Lucas Foss, Max Neuhaus and Charles Wuronien. In the mid-seventies he lived in West Africa studying the Dundun (talking drum), with master drummer Isah Hamani of the Djerma peocaste of drummers known as Griots, he traveled throughout sub-Saharan West Africa performing and making archival field recordings of traditional ceremonies, dances and solo instruments. From these recordings he produced two highly acclaimed albums for the Nonesuch Explorer series, (WEA). His recordings of Hausa songs from Ghana were recently featured on the title track of the double platinum Epic release, "Deep Forest". Additional travels and instrumental studies in Asia and the South Pacific broadened Jay's expertise in world music styles and instrumental performance. His extensive collection of exotic wind, string, and percussion instruments, played in combination with contemporary instrumentation, results in richly textured musical images.
Stephen's bass recording and touring credits include work with: Wayne Shorter, Hugh Masekela, Joe Higgs, Luis Conte, Alex Neciosup Acuna, Rick Derringer, Demola Adepoju, Weird Al Yankovic, Isah Hamani, Johnny Lyons, Lucas Foss, Jimmie Haskell, Ak & Zuie, John Du Prez, Betty Buckley and Bature'. On his two solo albums, "Sea Never Dry" and "Tangled Strings", Stephen's songs balance lyric abstractions with solid African based Funk grooves and elements of Jazz and Rock to bring the listener into a vivid new realm of images and possibilities. His combination of ancient and modern instruments and techniques evolve into dramatic textural forms drenched in mystery, highly unique.