Zoh Amba serves up free jazz straight, with no chasers

News  /  Music

Every decade, young jazz artists are anointed improvisational pioneers, but their styles never quite reach the free-jazz experimentalism of 50 years ago, when Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler rewrote musical rules. This year, 22-year-old Zoh Amba from Kingsport, Tennessee, is upending the NYC scene with ensemble performances that serve as a reminder why free jazz often is called “skronk.” Her compositions are complex and occasionally lovely, but she’s not afraid to use a tenor saxophone as a weapon.

Last year, Amba released O, Sun and O Life, O Light Vol. 1, both on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, with guest appearances by Zorn and bassist William Parker. A third recording was made in 2022, but not released until mid-January. Bhakti (Mahakala Music) features a quartet of Amba, pianist Micah Thomas, alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins and drummer Billy Drummond. It offers a full range of dissonant blasts and ethereal light sax trills.

It would be an understatement to say Amba is rocking the New York underground music scene, bringing along pianist Vijay Iyer, members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or drummer Chris Corsano to gigs. A recent performance tied to the imminent release of Bhakti gives clues about the excitement generated —

Also New & Noteworthy

Iggy Pop, Every Loser (Goldtooth/Atlantic) – At 75, Iggy Pop has a preserved presence, akin to Keith Richards’, suggesting he’ll never stop rocking. Recent Iggy albums have featured poetry and French lyrics, but Iggy hired producer Andrew Watt to return him to his fierce Stooges roots. Tracks like “Frenzy” and “Modern Day Ripoff” sound like a remixed Raw Power 50 years on. Even if it’s not a chart-topper, the album might answer the youthful inquiry, “Mommy, why were parents so scared of The Stooges?”

If so, we'd love for you to share it with your friends and followers! Sharing this article can help spread valuable information and spark important conversations. Simply click a share button below!