Take away your Middle Eastern blues with the region's line-up of smooth Jazz artists

Published April 29th, 2014 - 12:17 GMT

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Gabriel Yared
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Image 1 of 24: Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared is famed for his cinematic scores for The English Patient (1996) & Cold Mountain (2003). His jazz-infused soundtrack for The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) mixes several performances by Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie with Yared’s Oscar-nominated score. He’s won a Grammy, an Oscar, and three BAFTAs!

Hamdi Makhlouf
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Image 1 of 24: Tunisian musicologist Hamdi Makhlouf focuses on jazz and world music, composing for trios, quartets and quintets. He’s performed with reknowned jazzmen such as tabla drummer Philippe Foch, pianists Mohamed Ali Kammoun and Vincent Lendower, bassists Saubidet Juan and Leonardo Teruggi, violinist Zied Zouari and drummer Abdesslem Gherbi.

Itamar Borochov
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Image 1 of 24: Itamar Borochov’s search for his roots resulted in an expanding love for Arab and African musical sensibilities – logically appealing to a trumpeter-composer raised in multicultural Jaffa. He moved to New York in 2006 to study, quickly gaining international recognition as a jazz innovator. He tours worldwide with the Itamar Borochov Quartet.

Fairuz
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Image 1 of 24: Lebanese singer Fairuz (Arabic for turquoise) is one of the most admired and respected living singers in the Arab world. Her songs express her fierce nationalism, and her politicism and beliefs (she refuses to sing to powerful individuals) have caused performances to be cancelled and her songs to be banned, only increasing her enduring popularity!

Anouar Brahem
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Image 1 of 24: Tunisian Anouar Brahem is an oud player and composer who is widely regarded as an innovator in his field, but innovation is synonymous with jazz, isn’t it? He became prominent in his home country in the late 1990’s, fusing arabic classical music, folk music and contemporary jazz. Brahem has been recording since 1991.

Basel Rajoub
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Image 1 of 24: Aleppo-born Basel Rajoub is a composer and saxophone player who creates new music rooted in a thousand-year-old tradition. Known for developing oriental music for the sax and piano, he works to bring his audiences new expressions of classical Arabic music. Basel performs as a solo artist and a leader of the Basel Rajoub Ensemble.

Le Trio Joubran
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Image 1 of 24: Palestinian brothers Samir, Wissam, and Adnan (Le Trio Joubran) play traditional oud music. The Joubrans are a well-known Nazareth family with deep musical roots (mom sang Muwashahat - poems originating in Arab Spain; dad’s one of the Arab world’s most famous stringed-instrument makers). The trio’s tracks are compact and hard-hitting.

Hamza Zeramdini
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Image 1 of 24: Tunisian guitarist Hamza Zeramdini is part of the 1st generation of musicians trained at the Ennejma Ezzahra jazz school founded by a Tunisian-Belgian cooperation. He marries classic guitar with jazz; participating in international jazz festivals. Zeramdini is a founder of Jazz Club de Tunis which has been promoting jazz in Tunisia since 2011.

hind
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Image 1 of 24: The work of Bahraini singer Hind (her real name is Suhair) includes popular Arabic music as well as traditional Khaliji music, subtly infused with jazz stylings. Her 2000 debut album was well received in Bahrain and Saudi, but she jumped onto Gulf charts with her 2008 album Al Ghroob which includes 12 songs sung in Khaleeji, Lebanese and Egyptian.

Rida Al Abdulla
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Image 1 of 24: Iraqi Rida Al Abdulla grew up during the Iran-Iraq war and gained notoriety for protest songs against the 2006 Lebanon-Israeli war. His music merges Arabic classical (maqam) with modern regional styles. His harrowing backstory (check Wiki for shocking details) has given him the focus and drive to become one of the Middle East brightest stars.

Fattet Le3bet
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Image 1 of 24: Formed in 2004, Fattet Le3bet fuses jazz with oriental music: classical to popular Arabic songs, Assyrian to Kurdish music, Eastern Europe to India through Turkey and Iran - it’s all in there! The band performed over 100 concerts in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Germany, and Switzerland. They promote fun oriental music with serious jazz arrangements.

musicians Hazem and Ma’an
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Image 1 of 24: One of Jordan’s most original jazz bands, Black Ice plays a combination of Jazz, Funk, and Jazz Fusion. Founded by Baidoun Brothers, musicians Hazem and Ma’an, who are credited as having started Jordan’s jazz scene in 1982. For over 30 years, many established musicians have played in the band - 6 years ago it was reborn as “Black Ice”.

Kamal Musallam
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Image 1 of 24: Jordanian Kamal Musallam’s innovative merging of jazz, rock, Latin, Indian & Asian musical traditions with Arabic sounds and rhythms - a new musical genre! - makes him one of today’s most sought-after jazz guitarists. Hear his exploration into how old Arabic oud rhythms can talk beautifully to Flamenco dance rhythms at the Amman Jazz Festival.

Vahagn Hayrapetyan
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Image 1 of 24: Beirut-based Christopher Michael Shaheen teams up with Armenian jazz pianist Vahagn Hayrapetyan at the Amman Jazz Festival. Shaheen is a Lebanese-American drum set and percussion artist, who also is a member of the Lebanese National Conservatory Big Band, Philharmonic, and Percussion Faculty.

Levant band
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Image 1 of 24: Levant is a quintet of musicians that can twist any music until it becomes “Levant”! The multi-talented and high-energy ensemble turn tunes from Beyoncé, Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, and many others on their heads; you’ll think every song should be a jazz standard after giving them a listen!

Ahmed Nazmi
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Image 1 of 24: Bass player Ahmed Nazmi revisits his heritage in his newest sound project, where he blends contemporary bass playing with his Egyptian musical heritage - the result is riveting ethnic jazz. Known as the jazz bassist with spot-on funky grooves, Nazmi recently released his first solo album ETHBAT HALA (Stating a Condition).

Zaman Al Zaatar
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Image 1 of 24: The music of Zaman Al Zaatar expresses the extreme diversity of influences that one is subjected to by living in modern Amman. The band uses an arrangement of western and Middle Eastern instruments to produce their uniquely fused sound. Innovative and energetic, each show is powerfully unique.

Kinan Azmeh German accordion
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Image 1 of 24: Clarinettist Kinan Azmeh & German musician Manfred Leuchter blend the unique sounds of these two wind instruments in a fantastically innovative show that has toured the US, Europe & the Middle-East, resulting in the 2007 album “9 days of Solitude”. Azmeh, one of Syria’s rising stars, was hailed as a “virtuoso” by the New York Times.

Ayman Tayseer
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Image 1 of 24: Jordanian Ayman Tayseer has a range of musical styles from folkloric to classical Arabic. He experiments fusing Arabic music with other styles, his latest project “Abdul Wahab in Jazz” introduced influences from Jazz music to the classical Abdul Wahab repertoire. Songs are presented using Wahab’s melodies set against a jazz background.

Soriana
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Image 1 of 24: Soriana (meaning “our Syria”) brings together performers and composers from Syria and the western world to perform a mixture of eastern and western music on Middle Eastern and Western instruments. They aim to soothes wounds and inspire creation, feeding the imagination as well as the soul.

Faqir Syndicate
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Image 1 of 24: Like most jazz greats, the “Faqir Syndicate” is a bit of a family affair. Omar (whose father is also a musician) founded the “Electric Band” before forming the Faqir Syndicate, sometimes featuring youngest brother and guitarist Alaa Faqir. The band performs original music as well as covering hits by B.B.King, Joe Satriani, & Al Di Meola.

Ibrahim Maalouf
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Image 1 of 24: Ibrahim Maalouf is a trumpet player and teacher, composer and arranger. The son of trumpeter Nassim Maalouf and pianist Nada Maalouf, he is noted for playing Arabic music with quarter tones on the trumpet, a rare skill pioneered by his father and Don Ellis in the 1960s. he was born in Beirut and now lives in Paris.

Omer Klein
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Image 1 of 24: Jazz pianist and composer Omer Klein grew up in Israel, but studied in the US, becoming a notable member of the NYC jazz scene with performances at the Blue Note and Carnegie Hall. Now living in Germany, he released 5 albums to great acclaim, including Rockets on the Balcony (2010), chosen as an “Editor’s Pick” in Downbeat Magazine.

Avishai Cohen
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Image 1 of 24: Israeli jazz bassist Avishai Cohen mastered piano & bass guitar & upright bass before moving to NYC, playing in subways and parks before landing a record deal. His sound blends Middle-Eastern, eastern European and African-American musical idioms.

Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” is possibly the most famous Arabic jazz recording in the world.  Gorgeously exotic, covered by dozens of jazz giants and re-recorded over 350 times by his enigmatic orchestra, it burst on the scene in 1936!  Surely some Arabic-infused jazz has emerged in the interim to overtake this faux-oriental classic?

Jazz in the Middle East

A rising generation of musicians are combining classical Arabic melodies with contemporary jazz, creating sublimely new sounds that mix controlled techniques (rooted in thousand-year-old traditions) with the spontaneity of improv. Airplanes and the internet enable modern masters to meet and merge with musicians around the globe, freely swapping instruments and styles to create a new playlist that is familiar, yet surprisingly fresh.

How best to place new Arabic bop on the world music radar? Jazz for Syria, an international event raising support for Syrian refugees, takes place on UNESCO’s International Jazz Day on Wednesday, 30th April with three simultaneous concerts taking place in Beirut, Amman  and The Hague.  The scenes will connect via internet broadcast, allowing virtual interaction by jazz fans around the world.

The shows’ message is one of reconciliation and peace through music, but each concert has its own agenda. The Lebanese program features well-known Syrian and Lebanese bands like Raed El Khazen Trio, Fatet Le3bet, Tanjaret Daghet, Mabrad and Hani Sawah. Syrian children from Lebanon’s Shatila refugee camp will step onto the Beirut stage and perform music created during workshops held by the Hani Sawah team.

The Netherlands concert aims to raise funds to buy the kids new musical instruments. It features established Dutch artists such as Jan Akkerman, Tony Overwater, Dick de Graaf and Freek de Jonge, all of whom have played in Syria.

Amman’s concert includes children from Zaatari refugee camp who participated in a week-long music workshop held by SYRIOUS Mission (www.syriousmission.org), an initiative that conducts music workshops in Jordan’s camps and host communities. Created in 2013 by Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven, and working without conventional funding, they organize training for local musicians who then work with refugees on a wide array of musical programs.

Jordan’s concert also kicks off the month-long AmmanJazzFestival 2014, which features 65 musicians, 16 bands, and over 30 performances from Italy, Spain, Syria, Germany, Jordan, Holland, Armenia, Japan and Egypt.

International Jazz Day is a yearly event organized by UNESCO to celebrate “the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people.”

Take a hip n happy voyage into the Middle East’s take on new world jazz - (its silver lining is a charitable heart of gold!) and have your jazz hands at the ready! Play that funky music Arab boy! Meet the Middle East's grooviest jazz artists and get ready to surf n swing your way through our smooth selection!

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