Cairo Jazz Festival bridges cultural gaps through music



Sun, 01 Oct 2017 - 06:24 GMT


Sun, 01 Oct 2017 - 06:24 GMT

Cairo Big Band Society – Photo by Egypt Today

Cairo Big Band Society – Photo by Egypt Today

CAIRO – 1 October 2017: Cairo Jazz Festival kicked off its ninth edition on September 28 to September 30, featuring local and international artists breaking cultural barriers and proving that music is a social glue that binds different cultures.

The festival exposes the local audience to a variety of jazz artists from across the world. For their ninth edition, Cairo Jazz Festival hosted bands from Egypt, Denmark, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Portugal, Panama, Hungary, and Japan.

The founder of the festival, Amr Saleh, believes that the event allowed jazz to crossed borders and transcend its origin. “Jazz was born as a fusion of human cultures, art and experiences that have always absorbed other cultures and secreted great ideas, artists, art projects and music styles,” he continued.

The opening night was inaugurated with a performance from Cairo’s very own, Cairo Big Band Society, a jazz music ensemble founded by pianist Hesham Galal. “Jazz is a language that jazz musicians from all over the world understand. That is the beauty of this festival and music,” Galal cheered.

Led by vocalist and musician, Amro Yehia, Cairo Big Band Society merge jazz with classical orchestral music, pop and swing giving them a unique sound as the audience rejoice in some classics such as “Nice ‘N Easy” by Frank Sinatra, and “Feelin’ Good” by Michael Buble.

Cairo Big Band Society – Photo by Egypt Today

Galal explained that “what makes jazz musicians interesting is that everyone has their style and improvises their performance even if they are performing the same song.”

An interesting twist to the Cairo Big Band performance was the surprise appearances by local renowned band, Massar Egbari, who debuted a song from their latest album “Faker Ama Kona” (Remember When We Were).

Massar Egbari – Photo by Egypt Today

Following Massar Egbari’s performance was the Danish band quartet, Mathias Heise Quadrillion, which was founded by its name sake, Mathias Heise.

“Jazz is the genre where you get to challenge yourself as a musician because there is the improvisation, harmony, and tough melodies. It’s a genre where you are very free and impulsive,” Heise added.

Mathias Heise Quadrillion – Photo by Egypt Today

The band also performed a song from their newest album, “Decadence,” to their new audience called “Cliffhanger.” Mathias Heise Quadrillion started their international tour with a live show at Room Art Space & Café on Wednesday, September 27, making their performance at the festival their second in Egypt. They will also be performing in Morocco and China later this month.

As the crowd eagerly anticipated the closing performance, they were shocked with the brilliant performance from Eftekasat.

Eftekasat are an oriental jazz band that was founded in 2002 that smoothly blends Arabic tones with jazz music.

Vocalist and violinist Mohamad Aly shared, “The base harmonies and melodies are always jazz but we alter it slightly to be able to integrate Arabic instruments and I think it is a very healthy thing because it reflects our culture and identity.”

For the second day of the festival, they started out the afternoon with a segment that was led by children from the Band Makers School of Jazz for Kids, which followed a performance from the Egyptian band Watson Blues Band, Egyptian jazz artist Shereen Abdo, Flemish band Kapok, Czech band Tomas Liska, and Portuguese band Mn’Jam Experiment.

To commence the final day of the festival, Hungarian band András Dés Trio took the stage for the first time in Egypt.

Inspired by contemporary New York mainstream jazz and classical music, András Dés Trio’s music is highly influenced by nature. They performed originals such as “Sea for the Second Side,” “Transparent Afternoon,” and “150 Seconds before Midnight.”

András Dés Trio - Photo by Egypt Today

“Although music has no language, I feel that I could connect to people more through music. I think that musical connection is different from personal connection,” stated the guitarist Istvan Toth. Toth believes that even if people do not know each other, they will find a connection through music.

Ichiro Onoe – File Photo

The night continued as the multicultural band, Ichiro Onoe Trio, shared their take on jazz music with a Japanese twist. Founded in 2013 by the Japanese drummer Ichiro Onoe, the band consists of four musicians from France, Hungary, and UK. However, only three of the existing band members were performing in the festival, hence the name.

Ichiro Onoe Trio’s music blends traditional Japanese music with jazz tunes. “On stage, I tell my story through music and people feel and understand it,” said Onoe to Egypt Today.

Although it was his first time in Egypt, Onoe found so much in common with local musicians. “Because we listen to the same artists, music has made the world smaller than expected,” added Onoe.

Pan-African Jazz Project also participated in the festival. It was established by the Panamanian Embassy and Egyptian Embassy in Panama. The project consists of professional jazz musicians from Danilo Pérez’s foundation and Egyptian musicians aiming to use music as a tool for social change.

Pan-African Jazz Project – Photo by Egypt Today

Pan-African Jazz Project titled their performance at the festival “What if Music Could Change the World,” where they used jazz music to establish diplomatic relations between countries.

“When we play together, the art of music helps us get to know each other and communicate in a diplomatic way,” added Pérez.

The performance combines Panamanian jazz and folklore music with Egyptian folklore to showcase a unique mix of cultures. Because Egyptian music can blend easily with international jazz, international artists have been able to mix it with their own beats, Pérez explained.

During the performance, Pérez invited the audience to come on stage and perform the Panamanian folklore dance. Her invitation got the audience on their feet. Their performance was also accompanied by pianist Gala who also performed with Ichiro Onoe Trio.

Audience dancing to Pan-African Jazz Project music - Photo by Cairo Jazz Festival Media Office

The festival ended with a breathtaking performance from the Austrian band, Netnakisum, and the Egyptian band, Wave Jazz Band.

Netnakisum Band – Photo by Cairo Jazz Festival Media Office

Audience member Nadim said, “The performance was [as] great as it could be. The festival was so organized and brought different cultures together.”



Leave a Comment

Be Social