"If you are even vaguely curious about the state of New Zealand jazz then this is the album you need to hear." -Graham Reid, Elsewhere.
"It will be fascinating to see where his career takes him - both here in New Zealand and overseas. I feel like he's just getting started." -Damian Vaughan, Recorded Music New Zealand.
Umar Zakaria is a New Zealand bassist and composer filled with hope for the future. His music unites diverse musical traditions, particularly jazz improvisation and the music of the Malay Nusantara, in an effort to inspire communication and cooperation across ideological boundaries. In 2018 he was named Best Jazz Artist by Recorded Music New Zealand.
As a jazz bassist, Umar has performed in the United States and the Netherlands as well as in New Zealand. Notably, he has performed with Bob Moses (US), Norio Maeda (Japan), Rob van Bavel (Netherlands), Snorre Kirk (Denmark), Magnus Hjorth (Sweden), Hagai Bilitzky (Israel), Steve Barry (NZ), and Myele Manzanza (NZ) among others. He is student of legendary bassists Lynn Seaton and Cecil McBee, and was awarded 2nd place at the BASS2014 International Jazz Bass Competition. Umar also represented New Zealand as one of 3 bassists selected from around the world to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
A graduate of the New Zealand School of Music and the New England Conservatory in Boston, his innovative compositions and arrangements finely tread traditional boundaries of genre and style. These have been performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand School of Music Big Band.
Having developed a reputation for emotionally stirring performances, Umar now seeks to cultivate an international performance career in order to spread his message of consciousness in thought and feeling.