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Zoe Rahman

One of the brightest stars on the contemporary jazz scene Described in The Observer as “a remarkable pianist by any standardâ€, Zoe Rahman has firmly established herself as one of the brightest stars on the contemporary jazz scene. A vibrant and highly individual pianist/composer, her style is deeply rooted in jazz yet it reflects her classical background, British/Bengali heritage and her very broad musical taste. Known for her powerful technique, wide-ranging imagination and exuberant performance, she has become a highly sought-after musician, working most recently with the likes of George Mraz, Courtney Pine and Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra. Born in Chichester, UK, to a Bengali father and English mother, Zoe studied classical piano at the Royal Academy of Music, took a music degree at Oxford University and then won a scholarship to study jazz performance at Berklee College of Music, Boston, where she studied with the inspirational pianist JoAnne Brackeen. Zoe won a MOBO Award (best Jazz Act 2012) for “Kindred Spiritsâ€, her fifth album on her own Manushi label. The album showcases Zoe’s exuberant and highly personal style. Featuring her brother Idris on clarinet alongside her trio as well as a guest appearance by UK jazz legend Courtney Pine, the album has been hailed as a ‘masterpiece’ (Manchester Evening News), ’in every way a five star rating’ (ukjazzradio.com), ‘one of the best albums of the last couple of years’ (Jazzwise), and ‘a work of breathtaking musical imagination’ (Metro). Zoe’s second album, Melting Pot, was nominated in 2006 for one of the UK’s most prestigious music awards, the Nationwide Mercury Prize, alongside the likes of Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Arctic Monkeys and Muse, and it also won ‘Jazz Album of the Year’ at the UK’s first Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Her fourth album, Where Rivers Meet, is a stunning collaboration with her brother Idris, exploring music from their Bengali heritage. Originally they toured this project in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as a duo but for the album they teamed up with Zoe’s trio as well as Dhaka-based vocal stars Arnob and Gaurob, violinist Samy Bishai and percussionist Kuljit Bhamra to produce “a wholly original brand of Anglo-Asian music†(Sunday Times). Zoe has worked extensively throughout the UK and internationally and in 2011 she toured Italy, Sweden, Ireland, France and Bangladesh with her own projects and also toured Australia (including Sydney Opera House). She’s been invited to play at many international jazz festivals in recent years including North Sea, Molde, Barbados, Cork, Palermo, Estonia. Aside from working with her own groups, she has toured and recorded with a diverse range of other artists, including: George Mraz; Courtney Pine; Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra; Danny Thompson; Martha Wainwright; Soothsayers (with reggae legends Johnny Clarke and Michael Prophet); Larry Stabbins; Clark Tracey; James Carter; Natacha Atlas; Keziah Jones; Mekaal Hasan among many others. She has been a featured artist on numerous TV and radio programmes, including BBC4 (Women in Jazz; Way To Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake), BBC2 (Jools Holland; Desi DNA), Channel S, Bangla TV, Meridian TV, BBC Radio 4 (Front Row, Woman’s Hour, Loose Ends) BBC Radio 3 (World on 3, Late Junction, In Tune) BBC Radio 2 (Jamie Cullum, Jools Holland, Courtney Pine, Charles Hazlewood) and is frequently invited to sit on high-profile panels – most notably, the Mercury Music Prize, Nottingham International Jazz Piano competition, Philharmonia’s Groove Search Competition. She shares her passion for music through teaching in a variety of contexts, inspiring musicians of all ages and abilities. From 2013-14 she was Artist in Residence with youth big band “Jazz Vehicle†in Lincoln.


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