University of Pennsylvania Graduate Doctor’s Road to Jazz: ZENG
Recent medical school graduate from the University of Pennsylvania and music sensation ZENG has led quite a remarkable life. Balancing a career in a combined neurology/psychiatry dual residency at NYU and the recent launch of his music career – ZENG, a music producer, pianist, and composer is nowhere near calling it quits just yet.
Although his music career as a jazz pianist and composer has been anything but ordinary, the talented young artist has been making waves since the release of his debut album “Loading… “ in December 2020. Finding balance has been an important goal for ZENG and his artistic and academic trajectory, but from what we’ve seen, he’s only getting started.
The Start of a New Journey
Growing up in Rhode Island in an Asian-American household, the New York-born artist has been exposed to music for most of his childhood. ZENG has expressed how his parents forced him to play classical piano during the early years of his life. His love of music wouldn’t blossom until ZENG got a taste of jazz during middle school when he first encountered the amazing sounds of jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller on the radio.
It was an instant blissful epiphany for ZENG, and he would later start to divulge into multiple different music genres such as hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul, and gospel. As he broadened his interest in music and in particular #BAM (Black American Music), a term coined by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, an enthusiastic ZENG would later pursue an undergrad at Princeton University, keen to learn/study and play as much jazz as possible. This quickly changed though as ZENG found himself developing a love for philosophy, which he eventually ended up majoring in. However, he still kept his interest and love for jazz at hand.
ZENG: The Man Behind the Music?
From the off, you will notice how easily ZENG jumps from one persona to another. Although still pursuing a dual Neurology/Psychiatry residency at NYU, the recent medical school graduate has a few noteworthy achievements up his sleeves.
His research in psychiatry/cognitive neuroscience at Princeton, MIT, John Hopkins, Yale, and other notable schools have helped him understand how music can be used as a therapeutic tool for psychiatric//neurologic illness. ZENG is focussing on ways global efforts can bring a better understanding to patients suffering from neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
During his development into the artist known as “ZENG”, the keyboardist/producer obtained his master’s in Jazz Piano Performance at the Manhattan School of Music. His musical persona has outgrown his expectations and landed him the opportunity to sign with the jazz-fusion label Ropeadope Records, home to Grammy winning/nominated artists such as Christian Scott, Terrace Martin, Nate Smith, Eddie Palmieri, and many more. ZENG recently launched his debut album “Loading…” in 2020, combining jazz, dance, R&B, neo-soul, and hip-hop. The young producer is setting a new trend in dance music and bringing a breath of fresh air to the New York jazz music scene.
There is a personality in the artist and medical professional which can’t easily be found in other people. The cafes and jazz bars in NYC that have for years intrigued ZENG to pursue a full-time career in music eventually helped to shape him into an artist that is transforming the jazz scene.
ZENG’s Music Career in NYC
Curating new music and finding time to bring new sounds to thousands of listeners in the city that houses the best jazz scene in the world, ZENG brings a different perspective on what it takes to pursue your passion. There has never been an opportunity that has surpassed his capacity, and his work in the field of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience has opened up new ways the medical field can approach neurologic and psychiatric illness.
Music can be more than recreational entertainment. It’s a therapeutic modality that can help researchers and physicians understand the nature of mental illness, as well as the mind and the brain more generally.
Young artists and musicians such as ZENG are changing how so many listeners understand their favorite music. ZENG has found creativity in other domains of inquiry and has brought a breath of fresh air to the jazz scene.