Born in Louisiana to parents of Greek and Irish descent, raised between Boston, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Seattle, Layla Angulo began playing the piano at age five, the saxophone at age ten, and was performing in jazz clubs by the time she was fourteen.
Growing up, Layla was introduced to a wide variety of music. Her grandfather played the upright bass and was a big influence on why she began playing music. Both of her parents are artists and each have a great respect and love for all music. Her mother taught her how to dance and they listened to everything from traditional Greek music to jazz. While spending the summers with her father in Boston, Layla heard music ranging from Mexican Rancheros and salsa to classical and jazz. Her father frequently sat with her and, as an exercise, asked her to analyze the emotions happening inside the music they listened to.
Layla really fell in love with jazz in Boston and at the same time grew up surrounded by a huge Latino population in her community. Early in her high school years she was introduced to Charlie Parker and has been infatuated by the be-bop icon ever since. She returned to Washington state her last year of High School and began her studies at Cornish College of the Arts, learning from Hadley Caliman and Julian Priester. Layla\'s biggest influences on sax were Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, and Stan Getz.
Layla performed regularly with Funk bands, an all-girl reggae band, and many salsa bands – as well as her Jazz Ensemble. After college, this talented young woman moved to Spain where she played and performed with Spanish and European musicians. She came to appreciate and admire the many styles and influences in the beautiful Galician region, from Celtic and Moorish to African and Middle Eastern. Layla came away from that experience with an unquenchable desire to make her own music. In furthering her musical development, Layla became enamored of the giants in arrangement and composition such as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera and \"Machito,\" to name a few.
Returning from Europe, Layla was moved by what she heard in Afro-Peruvian music. Her study of composers such as Chabuca Granda, and Susana Baca led to her to writing music that mixed jazz with Afro-Peruvian rhythms. After the release of her first CD, Layla expanded her interests in World music and began a study of the complex rhythms of her Greek ancestry as well as experiments in mixing World rhythms and jazz.
In 2006, Layla toured Sicily where she performed sold-out concerts with some of Italy’s finest jazz musicians. The song La Rumbera, written by Layla Angulo and Walter Torres, was Semi-Finalist in the 2005 International Songwriting Competition (ICS) and in 2006 it received an Honorable Mention. Layla not only composes for herself and her group, but has also written numerous songs and albums for other artists and for short films including Cinder starring Julia Ling (Jackie Chan Disciples), which will be playing at film festivals later in the year.
With the release of two Latin Jazz CDs, and an intensely loyal and growing fan base, Layla and her band create a thrilling musical experience wherever they perform - either with her Quintet or her 13-piece orchestra, (as can be heard on her latest CD, Live at the Triple Door). Live at the Triple Door has received high praise from not only the Seattle Times and the Stranger, and press from around the world, but it is being played on a regular basis on Radio Stations across the world.
The fierce enthusiasm and encouragement of her fans keep pushing Layla to reach for even higher musical planes. Her latest CD, MIENTRAS, features some of the most well-known and highly respected musicians in the business, including Oscar Stagnaro on Bass, Roberto Quintero, Dario Eskanazi, (who all tour with Paquito D’Rivera and Diane Schuur) Orlando \'Maraca\' Valle (Irakere), Tony Escapa (Ricky Martin) and Arturo O’Farrill, who leads the Lincoln Center Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. On the new CD, MIENTRAS…, Layla not only composed and arranged almost all of the tunes, but she plays alto and soprano saxophones and also wears the hat of producer.
Most recently, Keilwerth Saxophones and Sonare Winds Flutes have endorsed Layla, which can be seen in the May 2008 version of DOWNBEAT magazine. She plays Keilwerth saxophones on MIENTRAS… recorded with her ‘Shadow’ saxophone.