Noah Becker is an alto saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and copyist based in New York. His recent musical activities include leading a tour in Colorado this past August, performing his own original music; the premiere a new co-led trio, Feral Children; Castle Garden, a research commission from the New York Public Library, for which he composed music about the modern-day relevance of the Jewish immigrant experience in New York, premiered at Lincoln Center in December; and the premiere of TRUMP: An Unspoken Truth, a solo project that explores and reimagines the evil words of Donald Trump to present a greater truth, at the 2018 APAP Showcase.
Noah's musical conception and compositions often incorporate strong rhythmic independence, and a discerning awareness of music's ability to shape and alter our experience of the passage of time. He is sensitive to harmony, the interplay of the vibrations of sound, and how we relate to it physically—through our ears as listeners, and our bodies as creators. He often employs extended and sometimes unconventional forms, and thoughtfully integrates composed material with improvisation.
Raised in Philadelphia, Noah studied in his teen years with Anthony Tidd (of Steve Coleman’s Five Elements) via the Kimmel Center’s Creative Music Program. The program fosters some of the best young musicians in the city, and he experienced tremendous growth from this critical exposure at a young age. After a year-long stint at Northwestern University in Chicago, during which he studied engineering, then jazz with saxophonist Victor Goines, Noah transferred to The New School (Class of ‘18½) in New York to more aggressively pursue his formal and informal creative education. He has since performed at a number of venues in the city, recorded with working bands in New York and Philadelphia, and studied with top-level musicians such as Michaël Attias, Andrew Cyrille, Steve Coleman, Will Vinson, Ralph Alessi, and Andy Milne.
In December 2016, on his 21st birthday, Noah released his first demo, Nascent, featuring his quartet Underthought. 2017 saw the release of a number of other recordings, including a collection of free improvisations from his time at the Banff workshop. All of this music presents a strong reflection of his personal language and sound in the making.
Noah also co-leads other projects, including Retumbra, a chamber trio based in New York with Noah on clarinet, Jonah Udall on resonator guitar, and Steve Williams on upright bass. The group combines the subtleties of drummer-less trios that have existed through recent decades with a grounding in new music and improvisation, culminating into a warm, ruminant, resonant sound. The sonic possibilities of clarinet, guitar, and bass allow the group to weave through various modes of composition, always seeking to explore new sounds and settings. Sensitive and strong-willed musicians, Noah, Jonah, and Steve constantly try to reach beyond the norm and create new textures through spontaneous creation and thoughtful reimaginings of their material. Retumbra performs regularly around New York, and is frequently featured at the Bar Next Door in Manhattan.
Along with Lesley Mok on drums and Nick Dunston on bass, Noah co-leads Feral Children. Playing exclusively original music by all members of the trio, Feral Children explores playful counterpoint and role-obscuring orchestration, always diving further into its roots of jazz and freely improvised music. Gestures originate from both body and mind as they navigate the music by a logic of their own collective design, breathing as one three-headed beast, balancing and re-balancing from within to project a wild sense of outward unity.
Noah is involved with a number of other ongoing projects, including Jonah Udall's ECHOensemble, Nick Dunston's Truffle Pig, and Steve Williams’s Tiny Tree. He is also a member of the NYC Composer Collective.
As a copyist, Noah has worked extensively with Henry Threadgill, immersing himself in Henry’s idiosyncratic musical systems and translating them to computerized notation. Their relationship began with the 2017 large ensemble work “Dirt, And More Dirt” (released in 2018 on Pi Records). More recently, Noah worked as copyist and production assistant for Henry’s “Plain as Plain, In Plain Sight” project (a partnership amongst Henry, Harvestworks, and the Tilton and Luhring Augustine art galleries in Manhattan); "2.6 Pentadactyl", a woodwind quintet for commissioned for Imani Winds; “Sixfivetwo”, a string quartet to be performed by the Kronos Quartet for their Fifty for the Future festival; and “Pathways”, performed at the Cleveland Museum of Art in January 2019. Noah is currently assisting Henry with future projects. He has also performed various other copyist and arrangement jobs for everyone from small-work composers to marching bands of 70+ members. He has also done administrative work for Blue Note Jazz Club and Gail Boyd Artist Management, and is currently helping educator Rory Stuart to prepare and proof a six-volume series of books on rhythm.
In addition to performing, composing, and working as a copyist, Noah works at John Zorn’s avant-garde listening space The Stone. He is also planning a research trip to Israel in 2019, where he will study ethnic music (religious and secular) in order to more fully explore the connection between his Jewish roots and musical background. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.