“Ilya really is a talented trumpeter and a great singer. This guy has got the goods.
Ilya Serov - remember that name.” — Dave Koz
Los Angeles-based trumpeter /singer /guitarist /band leader Ilya Serov has a passion for jazz that knows no bounds. A talented young musician with an old soul, Serov brings an infusion of imagination, vision and energy to the many shades of America’s original musical art form. Possessing both chops and charisma, his live performances and recordings have attracted a solid following among jazz fans and seasoned musicians alike.
Serov’s experiences on the jazz scene have recently led him to expand his creative interests in a significant new direction. Following his first original single Chillin’ (August 2020), Serov recently released new track HEAT featuring platinum-selling saxophonist Dave Koz (January 2021).
HEAT is a refreshingly youthful original composition rooted in contemporary jazz, RnB and funk. While the single was conceived intuitively and on the spur of the moment, it took almost a decade to produce it.
“I was born and raised in Russia in a northern city, and most recently lived in St. Petersburg. When I first came to California, I could not get enough of the warm weather. The nature, palm trees and the music of diverse cultures seemed invigorating. Heat was conceived right then and there. However, it took many years and experiments with styles to find my own voice and interpretation. I collaborated with fellow composer and talented guitarist Kay-ta Matsuno to finish the single,” said Serov.
Additional collaboration includes trumpet maker Andy Taylor from the United Kingdom who custom built a new instrument for Serov. Taylor specializes in building unique quality instruments and together Serov and Taylor designed a custom instrument based on a flugelhorn with a shape of a saxophone. Serov dubbed the instrument “Jazzohorn”.
In addition to Dave Koz, Serov’s collaborators on the single are seasoned musicians – guitarist Kay-Ta Matsuno, keyboardist Carnell Harrell, bassist Nathaniel Kearney Jr, drummer Eric Valentine and percussionist Ronnie Gutierrez.
In early 2020, Ilya has used the isolation and introspection brought on by the global pandemic to create Chillin’ — his first original single — which artfully blends Smooth Jazz with R&B and Neo Soul. Musically influenced by, and written in collaboration with notable guitarist Kay-Ta Matsuno, Ilya performs on both trumpet and keyboards, joined (socially distanced) by exceptional LA-based artists on the single, as well as in his new music video by the same name. Both were released in August of this year to enthusiastic reviews.
Serov has the creds to back up his competence. Russian born and classically trained, he was
first introduced to the trumpet at the age of seven, and studied in an intense, five-year program at a demanding music academy. He won a rare and coveted scholarship to attend the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music, and his talent as a classical trumpet player
led to performances with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg State Symphony, and St. Petersburg State Opera Theatre.
Ilya first encountered jazz as a teen by exchanging tapes and records with friends and fellow musicians. While at the conservatory he explored the local club scene, which stoked his love of the genre even more. His earliest jazz influence was Arturo Sandoval, and he subsequently discovered Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole, eventually incorporating their sounds and vocal stylings into his own music.
Following his passion, Serov relocated to the United States in 2008 at the age of 21. He settled and set up shop in Los Angeles, and it didn’t take him long to establish a name for himself. As a solo artist or with his band, he was soon performing throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including well-known venues such as Spaghettini and the Catalina Club. In 2014 he was honored to be named Best New Artist at the Hollywood International Music Awards.
Serov has even dipped his toes into the Hollywood film scene, co-writing with composer Ludwig Göransson one of the main themes (Drago’s Walk Out) for the 2018 cinema sensation, Creed II. The film was directed by Steven Caple Jr. and starred Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson.
When not on stage, Serov spends much of his time in the recording studio. His debut album, September in the Rain (2013), was a Big Band outing of classic jazz standards that highlighted both his horn and vocal skills. That album was followed by the release of Back in Time (2018), featuring classic tunes and instrumental collaborations with Grammy-winning percussionist Poncho Sanchez, legendary pianist Roger Kellaway, and acclaimed sax player Eric Marienthal.
“Ilya is a great, great trumpet player and I love his voice,” Sanchez said. “He has a great thing here because it’s commercial enough for the mainstream to enjoy, but hip enough for the jazz folks to like. He can sing the tunes and play them; that’s the edge he’s got.”
After hearing Serov perform, Smooth Jazz sensation Dave Koz offered him the opportunity to join his popular Dave Koz and Friends at Sea Jazz Cruise as a guest artist. Over the past two years, Ilya has performed on cruises throughout Europe and Australia with Koz and other Smooth Jazz greats, sharing the stage with the likes of Jonathan Butler, David Benoit, Larry Graham, Peter White and BeBe Winans. He has also been featured on The Dave Koz Lounge on SiriusXM’s Watercolors, as well as on KJAZZ 88.1FM, expanding his fan base to include smooth jazz afficionados worldwide.
In March 2020, Serov had the opportunity to introduce his jazz acumen into the symphonic spectrum. He and his four-piece band were invited to perform with the Riverside (CA) Philharmonic as featured guest artists. Adapted for orchestra, several of Ilya’s arrangements of iconic standards from the Great American Songbook were presented as part of the Philharmonic’s Celebrating America season.
Serov’s commitment to exploring the evolution of jazz through new dimensions has also been reflected in his creation of the Jazz-o-horn, an entirely new horn he developed in collaboration with Taylor Trumpets’ Andy Taylor. Created from a flugelhorn base, it has a unique sound and its own nuanced palette, and he plans to use it on his upcoming contemporary jazz album.
Ilya Serov is driven today not only by his desire to preserve jazz as an American treasure, but by a mission to engage and educate new generations of listeners. He continues to focus exclusively on contributing his time and talent to the world of jazz - its past, present and future.
For the latest information on upcoming recordings and performances, visit www.ilyaserov.com.
© 2021 by Silky Sound, LLC