[The Short Story]
Guitarist-Composer-Educator Az Samad has recorded with Grammy Winners Flaco Jiménez & Max Baca; graduated & taught at the prestigious Berklee College of Music; performed in the United States, Europe & Asia; and appeared on 21 CDs ranging in styles from Tex-Mex, Contemporary Jazz to solo acoustic guitar. His works have been described as “richly textured, poetic and atmospheric”. Previously based in Berkeley, California; Az now lives in Kuala Lumpur.
[The Longer Version]
Guitarist-Composer-Educator Az Samad has performed in the United States, Europe and Asia. A versatile musician who has appeared on twenty one CDs (ten 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.
'Az Samad is THE Malaysian guitar hero. Not only is he an incredibly soulful and accomplished player, he is a talented and well respected educator in all aspects of the guitar. He is also a super nice guy with a wicked sense of humour. Miss him at your peril!'
Mike Dawes, English Virtuoso Fingerstyle Guitarist & Recording Artist with Candyrat Records
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 Samad is a master of expression. Every note he plays comes from a place of deep musical knowledge and understanding. He can use his guitar to say "I love you" in 17 languages."
Jon Gomm, UK Acoustic Singer-Songwriter and Virtuoso Guitarist
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 here, here, here 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.
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.
First time here?
Check out some of the popular blog posts:
For Aspiring Jazz Guitarists:
4-Part Jazz Guitar Mini Course (Includes Video, PDF with TAB & MP3)
Part 1: Walking Bass Lines For Jazz Guitar:http://www.azsamad.com/jazz1
Part 2: Jazz Guitar Chords: http://www.azsamad.com/jazz2
Part 3: Jazz Guitar Triads: http://www.azsamad.com/jazz3
Part 4: Soloing With Triads:http://www.azsamad.com/jazz4
How To Play Great Jazz Guitar Chords: http://www.azsamad.com/jazzchords
7 Things For Jazz Guitarists To Practice: http://www.azsamad.com/jazzguitarpractice
How To Memorize a Jazz Standard: http://www.azsamad.com/jazzstandard
Jazz Guitar 101: http://www.azsamad.com/jazzguitar101
Open Mic at The Venue: http://www.azsamad.com/openmic
Solo Releases available for purchase directly from Az here:
Acoustic Gestures & Emo Attack Turtle are available for purchase on:
and all major online retailers.
2013 Az Samad - in the deep night/electric poetry
2012 Az Samad - Distant River (single)
2012 Az Samad - The Amsterdam Recordings
2012 Tara Linda - Torch and Sass
2011 Az Samad - Our Voice (Demo)
2011 The Adam Everett Quartet - Round One
2011 Az Samad - love letters EP
2011 Planet Loop - Cubed
2010 Az Samad - Emo Attack Turtle (second solo guitar album)
2010 Tara Linda - Tortilla Western Serenade (w/ Grammy Winners Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca)
2008 New Age and New Sounds Compilation CD (Italian music magazine)
2007 Snow and Ice EP (exclusive online-only release)
2007 Ciplak - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
2006 Panic In The Peninsula (compilation album)
2004 Acoustic Gestures (debut solo guitar album)
2003 ICOM :Feel The Buzz (compilation album)
2003 Echoes Of Bangsar (limited printing self-produced EP)
2002 B'Yu (Universal Music/Synchrosound Music) (as lyricist)
Songs licensed for use in:
2012 "Relationship Status", a Kharil M. Bahar flick [Official Website]
2012 "Concrete Jungle", a web series by Greenroom136
2011 Teaser Trailer for "Relationship Status", a Kharil M. Bahar flick [Official Website]
2007 Teaser Trailer for "London Calling", a indie movie by Anugerah Skrin Award Winner Kharil M. Bahar
2007 The Bedroom Musicians Series Promotional Video
2005 Video CD of Malaysian National Laurete A Samad Said - "A Samad Said - Kehidupan Seorang Seniman Malaysia"
Original Music for children's musical:
2003 Di Mana Singa (Where is the Lion) directed by Ladin Nuawi
Original Theme Songs for:
2008 The 6th Young Singers Choral Festival - 'Not Alone Anymore' (co-written with Shelley Leong)
2004 Monolog Memori Di Hadapan Pulau directed by SN Datuk Dr. A Samad Said
Considered one of the best guitarists in Malaysia"
Malaysia's Premier Business Magazine since 1972
"Az's compositions are at times playful and irreverent, and at other times lyrical and soulful, but always inventive, tastefully crafted and beautifully nuanced — an absolute pleasure to listen to." The Edge Malaysia
"a music extraordinaire"
BFM 89.9: The Business Station
" local six-string boy wonder"
The New Straits Times
"Technically impressive...utilizing the percussive potential of the guitar to great effect, something in the vein of guitarist Andy McKee."
All About Jazz
"This is one guy who can finger-pick, hold massive grape fruit-sized chords and make his guitar gently weep with the best."
"A rising acoustic guitarist"
"Az squeezes out a whole new sonic universe for the acoustic guitar." Pete Teo
"Az Samad produces works that are richly textured, poetic and atmospheric."
The New Straits Times
"a steel-string acoustic guitar maestro"
"undeniable talent..a one of a kind artist"
"an instrumental showcase of fretboard burning talent, bound together by image-inducing melodies and arrangements"
"immensely technical yet effortless fingerstyle"
"this guy here plays the acoustic guitar as if he was born with it."