Zoh Amba is a composer, saxophonist, and flutist from Tennessee. Her music blends avant-garde, noise, and devotional hymns. Before studying music at the San Francisco Conservatory Of Music, New England Conservatory and studying with David Murray in New York, she spent most of her time writing and practicing saxophone in the forest near her home. Today, her powerfully unique avant-garde music is full of folk melodies, mesmerizing refrains, and repeated incantations. Amba released two records in 2022, her debut record O, Sun which was produced by John Zorn and released on the prestigious label Tzadik. Zoh Amba’s second record, Bhakti features Micah Thomas, Tyshawn Sorey, and Matt Hollenberg. She has collaborated with a variety of high profile musicians such as Jim White (Dirty Three), legendary jazz bassist William Parker, Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), etc. Amba has also performed at well respected venues and festivals Roulette (NY), Ars Nova Presents (Philadelphia), Vision Festival (NY), and Angel City Jazz Festival (LA) along with a 2023 Big Ears Festival’s performance.
Five years ago, some 90 minutes from our beloved Big Ears home, 22-year old saxophonist Zoh Amba was practicing scales in the Appalachian foothills in Kingsport. She went on to study at the New England Conservatory and she took private lessons with David Murray, whose vibrato-rich sound is apparent in her own playing. In the last couple of years, however, she’s been establishing her presence on the New York scene with the heaviest company imaginable. In the spring of 2022 her first album O, Sun was released by Tzadik Records, the label owned and operated by John Zorn, where she was supported by no less than drummer Joey Baron, bassist Thomas Morgan, and pianist Micah Thomas.
Soon after, she dropped another album that focused more on her investment in free jazz, where she got the imprimatur of the legendary bassist William Parker and drummer Francisco Mela. More recordings are on the horizon, too. Last summer she turned up at the acclaimed new Monheim Triennale festival in Germany as a hand-picked collaborator of multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily. Zoh Amba has been turning heads.
New York Times – For The Saxophonist Zoh Amba, Free Jazz Is Gospel
Jazz Times – O Life, O Light Review
Stereogum – Best New Artists Of 2022
Salvation South – Interview