As a guitarist and musician, I strive to achieve an auditory dialogue between the bounds of sound quantifying music and its navigation through an emotive landscape of one’s personal experience. I pursue concepts of transcendence above convention, inward contemplation of outer experience, and the struggle of defining one’s authentic-self by disarming projected roles of patriarchal society. By exploring these spheres, I continually develop a hybrid musical language with my instrument; drawing on the influences of Black American Music and avant-garde improvisers, as well as the culture of the thriving New York City rock and noise scenes. This language is expressed across intuitive and designful musical situations, either as a collaborator or soloist.
Through the guitar, I continually explore the degrees of separation between natural sound and treated amplification, as well as acoustical noise and conventional melody. Through performance, I attempt to create musical structure between intuition and preconception; engaging listeners through the dualism of spontaneity and composition with each unique encounter I present them.
"Jessica weaves a distinctive path between atonality and tonality, noise and notes, while bringing heart to a style that can often reside in the head."
- Guitar Moderne
During the past decade, Jessica Ackerley has established themselves on the Canadian and American music scenes as a unique and versatile guitarist, composer and improvisor. Born in Alberta, Canada, Jessica now resides in Honolulu after almost decade of being located in New York City. They have worked alongside notable musicians such as Tyshawn Sorey, Daniel Carter, Marc Edwards, Luke Stewart, Patrick Shiroishi, and Jason Nazary, to name a few. Notable performance venues include John Zorn’s The Stone, Canada Music Center, ESS Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Blue Note, and tours both as a bandleader and side musician throughout Canada and the United States.
Since 2017, Ackerley released thirteen albums as a bandleader and collaborator to much acclaim, making critics’ year- end lists on Jazz Right Now, Avant Music News, Free Jazz Blog and Jazz Times Magazine. Their music has also been featured and reviewed in Wire Magazine, BBC Radio, Whole Note, Musicworks Magazine, New York City Jazz Record, and Bandcamp’s monthly “Best of” lists. In 2019, they founded The Brink Guitar Festival, a four-day event featuring some of the most innovative players on the instrument such as Miles Okazaki, Elliott Sharp, Wendy Eisenberg, and Dan Lippel, among others.
They have been commissioned for original work by Adult Swim and Mutual Mentorship, as well as received grant funding through New Music USA, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and Canada Council for the Arts. They have attended residencies at Atlantic Center for the Arts and were a two time alumni at Banff Center for the Arts.
As an educator and mentor, they have lectured at Grant MacEwan University and University of Toronto, as well as guided many aspiring musicians in private study throughout the years. Jessica is a current doctoral candidate in composition at University of Hawai'i.