Josh Charney

Composer | Performer | Musicologist

Josh Charney is a performer, composer, and musicologist based in Southern California. With sounds that traverse the realms of chamber music, jazz, rock, and free improvisation, Charney’s music engages with intricate rhythmic structures and visceral melodies. His music has been performed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the REDCAT Theater, the Carlsbad Music Festival, Springfest SD, and the Nief-Norf Summer Festival. In addition, his compositions have been featured on KCRW and WNYC's New Sounds with John Schaefer. As a pianist, he has performed with John Lindberg, Wadada Leo Smith, Mark Dresser, Alphonso Johnson, and Rahman Jamaal. Charney received his M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts where he studied with Wadada Leo Smith. He is currently studying with Anthony Davis at the University of California, San Diego, where he is pursuing a dual Ph.D. in composition and musicology. Charney also composes and plays piano in the Sibarg Ensemble, a group that creates a unique hybrid of traditional Iranian music and jazz.  

In regard to research, his interests include Iranian music and culture as well as topics surrounding improvisation. Charney’s dissertation investigates the Shiraz Arts Festival, a historic and politically significant event held annually in Iran in the 1970s that established a culturally democratic space, connected with Iranian national identity, and mobilized a revolution. A portion of the dissertation will be published next year by I.B. Tauris in a collection on Iranian performance.



"The composer really comes alive on this one, with keys flying while engaging all instruments into the excitement." - San Diego Troubador


"Joshua Charney's electric keyboard had a dramatic entrance later on a tune that seemed to marry Coltrane's 'Africa Brass' with Cecil Taylor's 'Conquistador.'" - NBC 7 San Diego


"... Charney's melodious, accomplished score..." - Backstage West 


"Joshua Charney has written new melodies -- which resemble folksongs and worker anthems." - LA Times


"jazzy and tasteful" - Variety


"Kicking off the evening were Autumn Tone's very own Le Switch, whose set rambled with a driving energy punctuated by Josh Charney's warm keys." - Aquarium Drunkard


"Joshua Charney (Keyboards) was making his Nord Electro keyboard look like a child's toy as he worked his way up and down the keyboard effortlessly." - Amateur Chemist