Umar Zakaria is a New Zealand bassist and composer filled with hope for the future. His music unites diverse musical traditions, particularly Malay music and jazz improvisation, in an effort to inspire communication and cooperation across ideological boundaries. In 2018, he was named Best Jazz Artist by Recorded Music New Zealand.
As a jazz bassist, Umar has performed in the United States and the Netherlands as well as in New Zealand. Notably, he has performed with Bob Moses (US), Norio Maeda (Japan), Rob van Bavel (Netherlands), Snorre Kirk (Denmark), Magnus Hjorth (Sweden), Hagai Bilitzky (Israel), Steve Barry (NZ), and Myele Manzanza (NZ) among others. He is student of legendary bassists Lynn Seaton and Cecil McBee, and was awarded 2nd place at the BASS2014 International Jazz Bass Competition. Umar also represented New Zealand as one of 3 bassists selected from around the world to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
A graduate of the New Zealand School of Music and the New England Conservatory in Boston, his innovative compositions and arrangements finely tread traditional boundaries of genre and style. These have been performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand School of Music Jazz Orchestra.