ILA CANTOR has performed and toured extensively within the jazz and contemporary improviser’s scene worldwide. Early on, she was mentored by the likes of Reid Anderson (of The Bad Plus, her college roommate), Bill McHenry, Chris Cheek, Ari Hoenig, Wayne Krantz, Ben Street, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Ethan Iverson, Aaron Parks, Steve Cardenas, and Gerald Cleaver, to guitar legend John Scofield (best friend of her parents), and worked closely with gypsy jazz virtuoso Stephane Wrembel while living in New York City.
She has recorded multiple albums and has been awarded grants from the Van Leir Fellowships and the Open Arts Foundation for merit in composition. She twice attended the Banff International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music – then led by Dave Douglas. She has been commissioned to write original chamber music, as well as produce soundtracks for documentaries and feature films – notably “Horizons” by Frank Cantor and “Blast” by Paul Devlin.
As a lively teacher, Ila has led multiple workshops, masterclasses, ensembles, and private lessons on jazz, improvising, guitar, and composition in institutions such as Stanford Jazz Workshop, Frank Sinatra High School, as well as private establishments internationally. She’s lived in New York City, Barcelona, New Mexico, Hawaii and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ila has been known to make music that challenges genres as she skillfully brings playfulness into sophisticated settings.
"Ila's songs sound like no one else's; they unfold curiously and beautifully, following their own inner logic. It's accessible, imaginative, kinetic, slightly twisted, and always evocative music, a little left of ‘reality.’" - Aaron Parks, pianist