Born in Brooklyn New York in 1979, Jacob Szekely grew up in a musical family where his talent was recognized early on. By the age of 13, Mr Szekely had written, arranged and improvised on his first commercial album and was sharing the stage with such musical luminaries as Mark Oconnor, Richie Havens, Joan Baez and Don McClean. He was accepted to study classical cello performance at Interlochen Arts Academy before attending The Cleveland Institute of Music for his Bachelor’s Degree with Richard Aaron and The University of Southern California for graduate studies.
Strings Magazine has hailed Jacob as “One of the leaders in the Creative String Community,” and Berklee cello professor and multiple Grammy winner Eugene Friesen has declared Jacob’s playing to be to be “The first time a cellist has made a convincing case as a leader in modern jazz!” In 2015 Jacob founded the Jacob Szekely Trio and released their debut EP, which was hailed by critics from the Strad, Strings Magazine, International musician, The LA Weekly (featured artist and twice “Pick Of The Week”) and artists from Chick Corea, to Rush Bassist Geddy Lee as a “Quantum Leap Forward” in pushing the boundaries of the instrument. Jacob’s music has had airplay on KCRW (Los Angeles), PRI, and New Sounds on WNYC and made several year end top ten lists for JazzEd, International Review of Music and several others. The same year, The Trio also completed a successful national tour whose highlights included headlining the New Directions In Cello Festival and sold out performances at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan, the Soundroom in Oakland CA, and Los Angeles’s legendary Blue Whale where they filmed their first live DVD. Subsequent performances
Mr. Szekely is also in great demand as a sideman and session player in Los Angeles having appeared in hundreds of commercials, television shows and movie scores. Jacob has been a featured performer or solo cellist with such popular artists as Marry J Blidge, Jay Z, Ellie Goulding, Brett Young, Avril Lavigne and Rush (ClockWork Angels Tour), Bono, Chris Martin, and in 2016 as the soloist on The “Belong” Arena Tour peroforming with Artist Nichole Nordeman. Jacob has been a featured soloist on such Television shows as Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Electric Cello) and Marvel’s Agents Of Shield to name a few.
In addition to his busy schedule as a performer, Mr. Szekely is also active as a composer and arranger and has collaborated with a wide range of artists and ensembles from string quartets and world music groups to commissions for chamber orchestra, children’s choir, to modern dance companies. In late 2016 Mr. Szekely completed a series of etudes focused on exploring popular styles and improvisation including “The Rake,” a funk pizzicato etude that was published as part of a compendium of progressive cello etudes by YoYo Ma, Mike Block, Mark Summer, and Rushaad Eggleston for Berklee Press in (Spring 2018) and “5 Rosetta Etudes: Progressive Cello Studies,” a series of pieces designed to introduce Jacob’s revolutionary fingerboard concepts in etude form. His website includes numerous self published works including his Rosetta Etudes, Bowing Rudiments, The Cellists Groove Cookbook and more.
In 2007, Jacob expanded his role as musical ambassador through the co founding and artistic directorship of String Project Los Angeles, a music school and resource for the alternative string playing community throughout the world located in Venice California named by Strings Magazine as “One of the top 10 reasons to study music in Los Angeles” and by Jazz violinist and Downbeat poll winner Christian Howes as “A model for all string teachers in America.” SPLA was the first school in America Soley dedicated to creative string playing whose award winning 5 plank curriculum included Singer Songwriter Skills, Rhythm and Groove, Fingerboard Harmony, String Yoga, and focused on Improvisation skills and language development in Jazz, Blues, Rock and Fiddle Styles. In addition to String Project Los Angeles, Jacob has also conducted over a hundred residencies and master classes across the united states at UCLA, Cal Arts, The Berklee School of Music, Oklahoma State University, Georgia State University, The University of Southern California, Cal Arts, Ithaca College and lectured at The American String Teachers Association’s (ASTA) national conference, The Jazz Educators Network (JEN) and The California Music Educators Association (CMEA) to name a few and is founder and Artistic Director of the Annual Los Angeles Creative String Festival (now in it’s 7th year). Jacob has also served on the summer faculty of numerous festivals including Eugene Friesen’s Vermont Cello Festival, The New Directions In Cello Festival and Christian Howes’ Creative Strings Workshop with whom he co- authored an article in the July 2012 issue of The Strad advising string teachers on how to approach improvisation for classical instructors.
In 2013, Jacob launched The Improvisor’s Guide To The Cello… The first ever comprehensive video learning series designed to address the unique challenges classically trained cellists face when approaching creative string playing. In August 2015, Jacob introduced The Improvisor’s Guide To The Cello Academy: the first ever interactive online community for creative cellists which now boasts over 300 active members.
In his capacity as one of the world’s leading authorities on amplified string playing, Mr. Szekely has served as a consultant for The Strad Magazine and for many of the biggest names in amplified string playing including Kevin Olusola and Lindsey Sterling. Jacob expanded his commitment to pushing creative string playing forward again in 2015 with the release of the The Pickup Test, a global resource for amplified string players which features tutorials, tabletop reviews and the first ever comprehensive sound library of every pickup and mini mic on the market for Violin, Viola, and Cello where musicians can compare pickups, microphones, and preamps in real time on a custom made media player invented and designed by Mr. Szekely. The Pickup Test and Electric string Player (It’s sister page on Youtube) is widely regarded continues to evolve as a the most comprehensive resource for serious amplified string players.
Jacob is sponsored by Grace Design, Danish Professional Audio and is a Yamaha Artist and Clinician. He performs on several 4 and 5 string acoustic cellos including a cello made by Eric Benning and a bow by John Dodd.