11 Songs, 1 Hour 11 Minutes


About Zem Audu

Zem Audu is an award-winning saxophonist, composer, and producer whose chosen expression is contemporary jazz wed to Afro-beat and Caribbean sounds as well as club-oriented grooves. He was born in Nigeria and immigrated to London with his family at age three. His household was so musical, he taught himself to play classical guitar and piano before choosing the saxophone. He met Courtney Pine backstage at a gig while he was in high school. The saxophonist picked up on something in his demeanor and way of talking about music and invited him to his next show. Pine later tutored him. In college, Audu studied with Jean Toussaint at the prestigious Trinity College of Music. He graduated at the top of his class in 2008 and won first place in the Worshipful Company of Musicians Jazz Competition. He was nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Jazz Saxophonist, and was awarded the Yamaha Jazz Scholars prize.

He gigged a lot, working with Tomorrow's Warriors, Nu-Troop Jazz Jamaica, Ernest Ranglin, Pine, Hugh Masekela, and others. In 2010 he immigrated to Brooklyn, where he became active on the jazz (with Jason Moran), reggae, and Afro-beat scenes and took on a longstanding, multi-year gig with the Skatalites. Audu issued his debut offering, the critically acclaimed Visions (on which he played all instruments), in 2016 and supported it by playing shows all over New York City. He signed to Origin Records in the latter part of the year and went right back into the studio with a seasoned band that included pianist Benito Gonzales, bassist Ben Williams, drummer John Davis, and guest guitarist Mike Stern. Titled Spirits and issued in June, the set wove together contemporary jazz, Afro-beat, Caribbean grooves, and Brit and American funk. ~ Thom Jurek