«Her strengths are differentiated, elaborate, carefully considered scores ... that puts them more in the tradition of Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider or Mathias Ruegg instead of Count Basie or Duke Ellington of which she copied none of these precursers.»
— Werner Stiefele, RONDO 03.12.2016
Sarah Chaksad’s fascination with music began earlier than most. Her mother taught her both at home and school and by 11 years old Sarah was studying piano and discovered the saxophone. That saxophone in particular, along with a budding interest in composition and performing in large ensembles, continued to develop under the tutelage of Matthias Baumann (saxophonist/director of the jazz ensemble) at the Cantonal School in her hometown in Wohlen, CH culminating in a series of compositions premiered by the school choir in fulfillment of her graduation requirements (Abitur).
Sarah’s final act pre-university was completion of the college-prep coursework taught by Christian Baader and Samuel Zingg at Bern University of Education. At Bern University (2005-2008) Sarah completed the course in K-6 instruction and a bachelor’s degree at Jazzschule Bern. Her songbook and accompanying recording entitled “songs for kids” was awarded honors for the 2008 Bachelor thesis of the year.
To cap of her student career she studied jazz-saxophone at the FHNW Academy of Music/Musik-Akademie Basel (2008-2013) with Daniel Blanc and Domenic Landolf and successfully completed a bachelor's degree (2011) and the master's program in music pedagogy (summer of 2013). That same year she was selected by the Pro Argovia Foundation as a Pro Argovia Artist of their 2013/14 support program. While studying at the conservatory in Basel, she had the opportunity to study with an assortment of Swiss and international artists such as: Andy Scherrer, Wolfgang Mutspiel, Guillermo Klein, Jorge Rossy, Larry Grenadier, Malcolm Braff, Mark Turner, David Liebman, Seamus Blake, Esperanza Spalding, Hans Feigenwinter and Anat Cohen. She was part of memorable musical projects, including a concert with the Brazilian saxophonist Cleber Alves, a big band project under the direction of Argentinian composer Guillermo Klein and concerts with the South African bassist and composer Carlo Mombelli. These projects, as well as playing in the big band of the university under the direction of Matthieu Michel and the arranging-lessons with Guillermo Klein awoke a desire to write pieces for her own jazz orchestra. In November 2012 she founded the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra and in the summer of 2013 it performed for her Master Diploma concert at the Bird's Eye Jazzclub Basel. The band continued by playing two successful tours (2015/2016) and many other concerts in Switzerland, Austria and Germany with many more to come.
In the fall of 2018, Sarah was invited to take part in the composer project of the 'generations' International Jazzfestival Frauenfeld premiering there a new composition for big band and working with the world-famous New York composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. That same year she was awarded the «Förderpreis» by the Kuratorium Aargau which gave her the opportunity to focus even more on her musical career.
The main projects of Sarah are the Sarah Chaksad SONGLINES (Malcolm Braff, Lisette Spinnler, Marc Mezgolits, Gregor Hilbe, Hildegunn Oiseth and Pepe Auer) and the SARAH CHAKSAD ORCHESTRA.
Perhaps Sarah’s project of most importance to the health of jazz specifically and to culture generally is her position as Artistic Leader of the International Female Musicians Collective (IFMCollective). Founded in 2017, they present bianual projects comprised of a rotating membership with the aim of bringing female jazz musicians together free from borders in hopes of creating a European network of collaboration.
In 2016 the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra released it first album Windmond (an old version of the German word for November) recorded at the renowned Bauerstudios in Ludwigsburg, DE by Philip Heck and released on Neuklang Records. Werner Stiefele’s review in the German music publication RONDO (3.12.2016) seemed to get the vibe, «Her strengths are differentiated, elaborate, carefully considered scores.....that puts them more in the tradition of Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider or Mathias Ruegg instead of Count Basie or Duke Ellington of which they copied none of these precursers.» Peter Ruedi wrote in WELTWOCHE (16.03.2017) «Now something amazing is happening ... a musician has built up a fifteen-member orchestra that neither imitates Ruegg or Gruntz but in a broader sense continues their (unique) aesthetics...» The success of the album and its ensuing release tour opened the doors to appearances at venerable Basel venue Bird’s Eye Jazz Club, the Schaffhausen Jazz Festival and the Offbeat Jazzfestival Basel.
In January 2019 the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra recorded an album «Tabriz» (the city of her father’s birth in Iran) featuring eight new Chaksad original compositions that will again be released by Neuklang Records. Sarah and her crew returned to the friendly confines of Bauerstudios. Sarah’s former composition teacher, renowned Argentinian composer and leader of Los Guachos, Guillermo Klein came on board to conduct and was able to deftly offer his very considered and astute observations while maintaining enough distance to let his former student flex her own muscles. The band was honored that Guillermo cancelled other plans to take part. And a very big honor too is guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel’s feature spot as a guest musician on the title track of the album. The album is expected to be released in October of 2019 and the band will perform in Luzerne, Basel, Zurich, Berlin, Paris, Graz and more.
Sarah Chaksad SONGLINES (Malcolm Braff, Lisette Spinnler, Marc Mezgolits, Gregor Hilbe, Hildegunn Oiseth, Pepe Auer) and their soon to be released album «Songlines» recorded at Soundfarm Studio Lucerne, CH (2019). From Sarah’s lips to your ears regarding the inspiration behind these compositions. The songlines or dreaming tracks of the Aborigines result in an invisible and mythical map of Australia which is transmitted oral tradition (singing) from generation to generation and are the basis for the walkabouts of the Indigineous Australian people. «The idea is to write simple songs … with a clear melody, and very joyful music.»
Sarah Chaksad works as a freelance artist, saxophonist, bandleader, composer and arranger. Since summer 2015 she has been running the Jazzcampus Club in Basel (www.jazzcampus.com). In addition, since 2016, she is leading together with Wolfgang Muthspiel the Focusyear program (www.focusyearbasel.com), a globally unique program at the Jazzcampus in Basel. She is still musical director of the International Female Musicians Collective and was curator of the Schaffhauser Jazzgespräche from 2017 to 2019.
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