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Zimbabwe Nkenya

A “staple of the New Mexico jazz scene” (Pasatiempo) Zimbabwe Nkenya has dedicated his life to music. A self-taught musical scholar, this St. Louis native started as a youth with the cello, but now primarily plays the upright bass, though he sometimes sets that aside to play the mbira, the African thumb piano. He has written and performed live musical scores for theatre, and collaborated with poets and vocalists. Nkenya produced/hosted KUNM’s “The House That Jazz Built”, and has performed in New Mexico for nearly 20 years.

He has been called “distinctive and innovative,” (Santa Fe New Mexican) and his music can be described as a fusion between improvisational jazz and African rhythms. Characteristically, Nkenya avoids the usual playbook of cover songs, and instead, uses the work of artists such as Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter as a springboard to dive head first into improvisation.

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“...Nkenya is already involved with the new Black Arts Group aka BAG II (see the previous post), and if his track record in New Mexico is any indication, could become a very active participant in the local music scene. StLJN looks forward to hearing what he has to offer” - St. Louis Jazz Notes

“Nkenya is a bass player who ranks with any of new jazz’s name artists. His fluid, far reaching runs on the acoustic bass are the stirring expressions of an artist who knows no limits.” - Albuquerque Journal

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