Daily News Egypt

Cairo jazz festival returns - Daily News Egypt

Advertising Area




Advertising Area

Cairo jazz festival returns

Amro Salah is at Taboula restaurant shaking hands with local and visiting musicians during a pre-festival dinner. He is the organizer of the 2011 Cairo International Jazz Festival and the musicians he is welcoming are from Austria. Amro is better known as the leader of oriental jazz group Eftekasat and the Cairo Jazz Festival is …


Amro Salah is at Taboula restaurant shaking hands with local and visiting musicians during a pre-festival dinner. He is the organizer of the 2011 Cairo International Jazz Festival and the musicians he is welcoming are from Austria.

Amro is better known as the leader of oriental jazz group Eftekasat and the Cairo Jazz Festival is his brainchild.

The festival was first brought to life in 2009 because, Amro says, “I just wanted to see something more happening here for musicians.”

Having attended jazz festivals all over the world, he knew the value of having musicians come together to share their music and skills. Amro, a tall and unassuming man, also explains, that he wanted to change the traditional perception of the genre.

With the help of some sponsors he has put together an impressive lineup of local and international bands.

The Adam Miller Group is one of those bands. Adam, originally from the US and living in Cairo with his Egyptian wife for several years, is the singer for the five-piece band. When asked how being in Egypt and the Middle East has influenced his music he says, “Living here has deeply influenced me and as art is a reflection of the artist, that naturally comes through in my music…the Arabic mindset is very different from Western thought. Here, there is a feeling that you are part of something greater than yourself. You don’t have to prove that you are somebody, you are family just by being here.”

He finds Egyptian musicians less competitive than Americans and thus improvisational jazz (music that is not written down, the band just follows each other’s cues) is more fun to play.

Sitting next to Adam at the dinner table is Stelzhamma, a visiting band from Austria. Charlie Schmid is the three-person band’s saxophonist. He describes their music as “analog, acoustic swinging, funky, alpine ethno style.” Their band got together in 2006 at the Anton Bruckner conservatory in Linz. They were commissioned to reinterpret three Northern Austrian folk songs by mixing them with hip hop, swing and other types of modern music.

The result was popular with audiences so they kept playing. He likes performing alongside his fellow band members because he “doesn’t have to talk much about the music, [they] can just play. [Our] songs develop over the years and change so a song we played five years ago will be very different today.” This is their first trip to Egypt and they are looking forward to seeing the Pyramids and playing music with some Egyptians.

At the opposite end of the table is Khaled Mahmoud, operations manager for the festival, who has been with the festival from the beginning in different capacities. He’s not a musician; he just loves music and supporting music. Mahmoud has an open personality, is quick to smile and clearly loves his work — this is his second job.

He is thrilled with the success of the past two years and is looking forward to building on it this year. Mahmoud says that he likes this festival because Egyptian bands that do not have the opportunity to travel will now be able to work with other international musicians.

Michelle Rounds is sitting near Mahmoud, having arrived from a three-hour long rehearsal. She’s a third generation jazz singer from Fiji who grew up listening to her pianist father play Nat King Cole, Julie London and others. She thought she was going to be based in Australia but took a three-month engagement in Luxor. Two years later, she is still in Egypt, now living in Cairo. She says she knew the moment she arrived in Egypt that she wasn’t leaving.

Amusingly enough, she studied Arabic 27 years ago. “On some level, I must have known I was coming,” she jokes. Her musical influences range from opera to reggae.

Back down at the other end of the table, Amro is speaking with Mahmoud, going over details of the festival.

“Jazz is a sacred type of music, so related to freedom of thinking and expression. It has its own sound and easily blends with traditional Arabic scales and melodies while still being its own art,” Mahmoud says passionately.

“I think the revolution will influence jazz greatly, jazz is all about experimentalism and I want to bring that idea to Egypt. Egypt is jazz; look at all the cultures and religions that we have here that must find a way to blend together.”

The 2011 Cairo International Jazz Festival at Sawy Culture Wheel runs from March 17-19, offering music, workshops and jam sessions for local and international musicians. Check out www.cairojazzfest.com for more information.

March 17
River Hall
Cocoon (Egypt): 8-9 pm
Calima (Spain): 9:30-11 pm
Wisdom Hall
Adam Miller Group (USA/Egypt): 9-10 pm

March 18
River Hall
Michelle Rounds: 6-7 pm
Kazumi Watanabe (Japan): 8-9:30 pm
The German Women Jazz Orchestra (Germany): 10-11:30 pm
Wisdom Hall
Stelzhamma (Austria): 7:30-8:30 pm
ARIFA (Holland): 9-10:30 pm

March 19
River Hall
The Percussion Show (Egypt): 4:30-6 pm
The Riff Band (Egypt): 6-7:30 pm
E.M.J.O (Slo/Ger/Por): 9:30-11 pm
Wisdom Hall
Ramy Attala Quintet (Egypt): 6:30-7:30 pm
Eftekasat (Egypt): 8-9 pm

 

Cairo Jazz Fest’s Operations Manager Khaled Mahmoud with American musician Adam Miller.

 

 

Advertising Area

https://dailyfeed.dailynewsegypt.com/2011/03/16/cairo-jazz-festival-returns/
Breaking News

No current breaking news

Receive our daily newsletter
Subscribe