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«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


—  Name, Title

»Chaksad's writing and arranging is first class and the enthusiasm shown by the band was very evident«
Jazzwise 2023

For over ten years, Sarah Chaksad has been attracting attention in the European jazz scene with large and larger bands. The Swiss composer and alto and soprano saxophonist has been celebrated internationally for her productions and concerts. «The concert was a triumph. Chaksad's writing and arranging is first class, and the band's enthusiasm was evident,» wrote Jazzwise in January 2023 about a concert in Iceland. «Sarah Chaksad's compositions masterfully juggle insistent motifs, subdued sounds, and meticulous layering,» said Jazz Thing in 2019, and Jazzpodium singled out her «clever compositional tricks with consistent thematic development, multiple motifs cross-referenced within the works, and finely arranged, through-composed backgrounds for improvisation.» The Weltwoche noted Chaksad's "individual and subtle musical style" and was reminded of George Gruntz and Mathias Rüegg, while Rondo praised her «differentiated, developed, carefully considered scores which play virtuosically with the sound colors of her band.»


Growing up in a musical home, Sarah Chaksad was already fascinated by music as a young child. She started learning the piano in primary school age and received her first instrumental lessons from her mother. When she was 11 years old, she discovered the saxophone. During her school years, she played in various ensembles, including the jazz ensemble at the Kantonsschule Wohlen under the direction of saxophonist and composer Matthias Baumann, who was also one of her most important saxophone teachers during her adolescence. It was also during high school that she discovered her great passion for composing. For her Matura thesis, she wrote compositions for choir, which were premiered with the choir of the Kantonsschule Wohlen in 2004.


From 2004 to 2005 she completed the pre-course at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern and was taught by Christian Baader and Samuel Zingg. From 2005 to 2008 she studied at the PH Bern, Bern University of Education. At the same time, she continued to take lessons at the Swiss Jazz School Bern and played in the school's big band. As part of her bachelor's thesis at the PH Bern, she composed children's songs and produced a songbook with CD. Her work was awarded the best bachelor thesis of the year in 2008. In the summer of 2008, she worked on a theater project (Verein Freilicht Bern) in the Botanical Gardens of Bern, for which she composed the theater music.

From 2008 to 2013, she studied saxophone with Daniel Blanc and Domenic Landolf at the FHNW University of Music / Musik-Akademie Basel, successfully completing her bachelor's degree in 2011 and her master's degree in music pedagogy in summer 2013. In the same year, she was selected by the Pro Argovia Foundation as a Pro Argovia Artist for the 2013-14 season.

Her studies at the FHNW / University of Music in Basel gave her the opportunity to play in various ensembles and projects, take part in sessions and workshops and attend various master classes with such musicians as Andy Scherrer, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Guillermo Klein, Jorge Rossy, Larry Grenadier, Malcolm Braff, Mark Turner, David Liebman, Seamus Blake and Anat Cohen, among others.

In 2012 and 2013, she took part in various unforgettable musical projects, including a concert with the Brazilian saxophonist Cleber Alves, a big band project under the direction of the composer Guillermo Klein from Argentina and concerts with the South African bassist and composer Carlo Mombelli. These different projects along with composing lessons with Guillermo Klein, finally awakened in her the desire to write pieces for her own jazz orchestra and perform them on stage, and so she founded the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra in November 2012. In summer 2013, she played her master’s degree concert with her orchestra at Bird's Eye Jazzclub Basel. The band played many concerts including two successful tours (2015 and 2016) in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

In 2016, the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra's first album, Windmond, was recorded at the renowned Bauerstudios in Ludwigsburg. The album was released on Neuklang Records and reviewed by many jazz magazines and renowned critics. The band received a lot of positive feedback for the first CD and was recognized throughout Europe for its artistic work. The success of the album and the CD release tour finally opened the doors to bigger stages. In spring 2017 the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra performed at the Schaffhauser Jazz Festival and the Offbeat Jazz Festival Basel.

In fall 2018, Sarah Chaksad was invited to the Composer Project of the «generations» 2018 International Jazzfestival Frauenfeld: There she had the chance to complete a composition with the world-famous New York composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. The world premiere also took place at the festival. In 2018, she also received a grant (Förderbeitrag) from the Aargauer Kuratorium, which enabled her to focus even more on music.

She also received a commission from the Timani Chamber Festival in Oslo in 2018 and wrote a one-hour program for the Timani Chamber Orchestra. The work was premiered at the festival in Oslo in November 2018 and recorded at the famous Rainbow Studios in Oslo in spring 2019. 

In January 2019, she recorded a new album with the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra with eight new compositions for big band. On October 18, 2019, the new album Tabriz was released on the German jazz label Neuklang Records. It also features the world-famous guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel as a guest musician.

In July 2019, Sarah Chaksad recorded another album with her project Songlines at Soundfarm Studio Lucerne. The result was 10 compositions played by the seven band members Hildegunn Øiseth (tp, goat horn), Christoph Pepe Auer (bcl), Lisette Spinnler (voc), Malcolm Braff (p), Marc Mezgolits (bg), Gregor Hilbe (dr) and Sarah Chaksad (as, ss, fl). The CD Sarah Chaksad Songlines was released in 2021 on her own label Clap Your Hands.

Sarah Chaksad received a grant (Werkbeitrag) from the Aargauer Kuratorium in 2020. In the following year 2021, Sarah Chaksad launched her latest project, the Sarah Chaksad Large Ensembles, a 13-piece international ensemble with which she released the album Together (CYH) in 2023.

Sarah Chaksad works as a freelance artist, saxophonist, bandleader, composer and arranger. She ran the Jazzcampus Club in Basel from 2015 to 2020. Together with Wolfgang Muthspiel, she has been running the Focusyear program, a globally unique program at the Jazzcampus Basel, since 2016. From 2018 to 2021 she was musical director of the International Female Musicians Collective. She is a board member of the Big Basel Festival, the Jazzcampus Club Association, the Swiss Diagonlaes Jazz Association and Jazz-Live Basel Association and she was curator of the Schaffhausen Jazzgespräche from 2017 to 2019. Sarah Chaksad is co-founder of the management and booking agency Esteam Music and the record label Clap Your Hands.

«Together» combines the enormous richness of sound, depth of focus and dynamics of a large formation»

Concerto Magazine Arnold Loimer


«The tuttis are masterpieces of fascinatingly layered sounds, all semi-transparent and therefore ambiguously shimmering. The solos that emerge from this are more of a further development than virtuoso liberations: logical, relaxed, moving like everything else in this never forced, beautiful music»

WEWO, Peter Rüedi


«Und sie folgen ausgefuchsten Kompositionstricks mit zahlreichen motivischen Querverweisungen innerhalb der Stücke, durchführungsartiger Themenverarbeitung und fein ziselierten, durchkomponierten Backgrounds der Improvisationen. Sarah Chaksad nutzt die kompositorische Freiheit, die sie sich selbst gegeben hat, um spannende Geschichten zu erzählen, und so erweist sie sich als musikalische Fabulierkünstlerin par excellence.»
Benno Bartsch, Jazzpodium


«Die Schweizer Komponistin und Holzbläserin hat definitiv ihre eigene Orchestersprache gefunden. Sarah Chaksads Stücke jonglieren gekonnt mit insistierenden Motiven, gedämpften Sounds, sanften Schichtungen. Die Steigerungen vollziehen sich allmählich, das Feeling is fliessend, atmend, schaukelnd.»

Hans-Jürgen Schaal, Jazz thing

«Willkommen in den schönen neuen Bigband-Welten!»
Hans-Jürgen Schaal, Jazz thing

«Sarah Chaksad hat eine eigene, subtile musikalische Handschrift gefunden, eine Art kompositorisches Destillat der versammelten Klangfarben ihres Kollegiums, nicht ander als die beiden grossen Schweizer Figuren des grossorchestralen Jazz, George Gruntz und Mathias Rüegg.»
Peter Rüedi, Weltwoche

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