Bassist, composer and educator Ashley Summers is a Canadian-born, Chicago-based artist whose talents have brought her to stages all over the world. Known for a lyrical style that is punctuated by a sinewy impetuousness, Summers's artistic perspective has a striking sincerity that is both invigorating and nostalgic.
Summers has brought her "glorious tone that pours forth passion and groove" (Jazzreview.com, 2010) to the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival, and Jazz a Vienne. She has also toured venues throughout the US, from concert halls like the Kennedy Center for the Arts to Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn and the Lilypad in Boston. In 2017, Summers was named "top of the class in new, Canadian Jazz" as one of the top "35 Under 35 Canadian Jazz Artists" by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
For more than a decade, Summers has been leading her own large and small ensembles in an effort to showcase her original music and the extraordinary talent of her peers in Canada, the US and Europe. Her compositional style emphasizes effusive melodies and dynamic harmonies derived from a vast range of musical influences. The result is a compelling narrative that chronicles stories of courage, despair, resilience, mysticism and more. Recently, the title track on Summers's 2017 ears&eyes Records release, 'True North', was recognized by the International Society for Jazz Arrangers and Composers as the 2017 "Outstanding New Music Composition" in the small ensemble category. The piece was performed by members of the Chuck Owen Big Band at ISJAC's annual symposium in Tampa, FL, in May 2017.
In addition to her busy performance schedule, Summers is an in-demand educator. For several years she served as director of IAJE Canada's "Jazzmobile" project, which placed professional jazz musicians in Canadian schools to motivate, educate and inspire young musicians. She also frequently serves as an adjudicator, guest artist and clinician at festivals and universities throughout Canada and the US, including the annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow. She spends considerable time in Summer months as a faculty member for jazz intensives throughout North America and frequently works with the Archipelago Project, a non-profit music education ensemble based in Traverse City, MI. She has also held interim faculty appointments at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Kent State University and Morehead State University.
Although she is a proud Canadian citizen, Summers is thrilled to be in Chicago, IL, where she is perpetually developing her own projects and supporting a variety of exciting local and international artists in jazz and other genres, both live and in the studio. In 2016 she debuted a new quintet, ‘Ashley Summers’s Raîson d'Être', at The Whistler in Chicago, which features longtime collaborators Dustin Laurenzi, Daniel Bruce, Daniel Murphy and Chris Baker. The quintet has since performed at the 2017 Toronto and Chicago Jazz Festivals. Summers's long-awaited debut album as a leader, featuring saxophonist Seamus Blake, was released on March 24th, 2017, on the ears&eyes Records label.
"...Summers has made a solid mark on the Chicago jazz scene.
This is due to, in equal parts, her brilliant writing, her deft leadership and her instrumental prowess."
-Chicago Jazz Magazine, 2017
“…full of dynamism and talent… A musician to follow.”
- Jazz Recordings, Barcelona, 2017
"...a glorious tone that pours forth passion and groove." - JazzReview.com, 2010
"...Summers' lyrical and sinewy bass... deeply passionate and resonant pizzicato notes..." - Chicago Jazz Magazine, 2013
"Summers will be a bassist to follow..." - National Post, 2003