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6 Amazing Jazz Musicians Making Waves Across The Arab World

Treat yourself to some superior quality Jazz this International Jazz Day with some of the region's best of the best, one of whom is performing at Cairo Jazz Club tonight!

Louis Armstrong once said, "If you have to ask what Jazz is, you'll never know," so we will spare you the quizzical embarrassment. Many a true word may be spoken through Jazz; inversely, words cannot begin to capture the meaning and purpose behind the genre. So, this International Jazz day, the best we can do is point you in the direction of these giants and hope the music speaks to your soul. Plus, as always, Cairo Jazz Club is going all out to celebrate International Jazz Day by hosting one of the region's crème de la crème, Lebanese Arthur Satyan tonight... 

Fathy Salama

Grammy and BBC awards winner Fathy Salama grew up listening to Classical music and Tarab. Salama started playing the piano at the tender age of six, and by the time he was thirteen he was already performing gigs at major clubs across Cairo. His 2004 album, Egypt, was a collaboration with Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour and earned him a Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music Album. He went on to perform his musical creations all over the world.  

Malika Zarra

Arguably the most successful Moroccan Jazz musician of her generation, the New York-based singer, composer, and producer is famous for fusing Gnawa, Amazigh, Shaabi and Jazz. Her lyrics flow seamlessly from Moroccan Arabic and Berber to French and English, giving her music a wider appeal, which saw her perform in some of the world’s most sought-after venues from the Lincoln Center to Carnegie Hall. “A multi-cultural shape-shifter, an enchantress who leaps effortlessly between seemingly unconnected languages and traditions, uniting them while utilising each to further enrich the others,” Phil Freeman of Global Rhythm writes of her.

Yehia Khalil

Widely regarded as the founding father of Oriental Jazz, Egyptian Yehia Khalil has performed all over the world. He founded the Cairo Jazz Quartet when he was just 13 years old. The Jazz composer and drummer later travelled to the United States to study under legendary American percussionist Roy Knapp. "He agreed to take me on as his student, and it doesn’t get any luckier than this. I was taught by the same man who taught Gene Krupa, Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich," Khalil told CairoScene in an interview last December. He toured the country with acts like Rasputin Stach, Richard Berry, and Friend & Lover, and shared stages with the likes of Cream and Jimi Hendrix.  

Eftekasat

Even though their music didn’t see the light of day until 2002, when they gave their debut performance at Cairo Jazz Club, the Oriental Jazz band had been making music since 1992. Their debut album was distributed worldwide and released digitally on iTunes. They gained international recognition following their appearance at the 2008 Carthage Jazz Festival where they performed alongside Jazz giants Gilberto Gil, William Parker, and Jacques Schwarz-Bart.

Arthur Satyan

Arthur Satyan comes from a long line of established Armenian musicians. He became Yerevan’s top piano man before he was invited to Lebanon to perform at the opening of the glamorous Casino du Liban. Dean of the Jazz Department and Professor of Classical Piano at the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music since 1998, Satyan’s musical influence extends to almost every single Lebanese Jazz musician. And it appears that Cairo is next on his list, because the virtuoso is set to perform at Cairo Jazz Club tonight!

Amira Kheir

Dubbed the diva of the Sudanese desert, Sudanese-Italian Jazz musician Amira Kheir managed to captivate the world with her debut album, View from Somewhere, which was released in 2011. Her work is greatly influenced by her multicultural heritage with traditional Sudanese tunes, Jazz, Soul, African and Middle Eastern music coming together to form a unique auditory blend.

For more on International Jazz Day at CJC click here
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