Az Samad

Az_portraits-5 Please Credit Photo by Khairil M Bahar

Guitarist-Composer-Educator Az Samad has performed in the United States, Europe and Asia. A versatile musician who has appeared on twenty two CDs (eleven of which are his solo releases), Az has worked with Grammy winners Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca, drummer Bernie Dresel (Brian Setzer Orchestra), singer-songwriters Tara Linda and Reza Salleh, guitarists Mike Dawes, John Stowell, Adam Rafferty, Stuart Ryan, and Teja Gerken; world music ensemble Bogofusion; electronic jazz-funk group Planet Loop; Cumbia-Dub band Candelaria; and string jazz ensemble JazzMine. Az has been invited to perform as the opening act for concerts by Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor. Az was also selected as one of the presenters for TEDxKL 2013 which was the largest TEDx in South East Asia to date.

Orchestra performances

Az was the featured classical guitar soloist with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) for the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy Kuala Lumpur premiere conducted by Arnie Roth (USA). He has also performed as part of the MPO in other sold-out performances and worked with conductors Richard Kaufman (USA) and Mark Fitz-Gerald (UK) and classical musicians Igudes­man and Joo.

Az as an educator

In addition to his extensive performance credentials, Az has 17 years of teaching experience. This has been shaped by his musical training which includes 4 degrees in music. He received degrees from University of Westminster, UK; Jazz Composition and Guitar Performance – Summa Cum Laude Honors from Berklee College of Music, USA; and Masters in Music (Jazz Studies) from San Jose State University.

As an educator, Az has been on the faculty of Berklee College of Music’s Summer Guitar Sessions and has taught workshops at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut; Culturefest in Pipestem, West Virginia; and The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California. Az has also taught at fingerstyle guitarist Thomas Leeb’s 2013 annual Residential Acoustic Guitar Camp in Turracher Höhe, Austria. Az was teaching alongside such fingerstyle greats including Jon Gomm, Mike Dawes, Thomas Leeb and Alex Kabasser.

Az believes in contributing back to the society that has supported his music efforts. His music outreach program started off with scholarship student Irena Taib of The Impatient Sisters fame. Irena received a scholarship from Berklee College of Music has since continued her studies there. Az currently conducts private guitar lessons in Kuala Lumpur with a strong focus on beginners and Jazz students.

Az is also a columnist with The Star. The first 4 installments of his column, Beats & Bytes are hereherehere and here.

On tour in Europe 

In 2012, he embarked on his first European tour with California-based Tara Linda & The Tortilla Western Trio performing in the Folk Segovia Festival, Spain & a 3-night residency at Töpferei Niehenke, Hasbergen, Germany. In summer 2013, Az toured Europe as a solo guitarist performing 10 dates including England, Northern Ireland, The Netherlands, Austria and Germany.

Electric Az Orchestra 

Az’s 2013 album ‘in the deep night/electric poetry’ is an exploration of electric guitar textures with live looping, ambient soundscapes and moods. In the words of Berklee professor, Garrison Fewell:

“Az Samad’s new CD, “In the Deep Night / Electric Poetry” is a dreamer’s paradise of contemplative meditation and thoughtful reflections.

In 2014, he released two albums: Squirrels in Space with multi-instrumentalist Richard Moss (UK) and In The Moment, a follow-up to 2013’s ‘in the deep night/electric poetry’.

Previously based in Berkeley, California; Az now lives in Kuala Lumpur.