Grammy award-winning pianist, composer and producer Fathy Salama, alongside four members of his band Sharkiat, will play in Oslo on Friday and Saturday with The Source band, at an annual event called “The Source of Christmas.”
Salama’s band have been playing at the event for almost a decade.
"The collaboration with the great Norwegian band The Source started in the the mid-2000s when I met saxophonist and composer Trygve Seim at a concert in Cairo, as his father, a great fan of arts and music, was the ambassador at the time," Salama told Ahram Online.
"Siam was featured with Sharkiat a couple of times and three members of his band recorded as part of the scores I made for Omar Sharif's movie Al-Mosafer. I also gave a few workshops in Norway under his coordination. The Source invited us for The Source of Christmas project that turned into an annual event later. It is becoming one of our all-time favourite projects. All the musicians in the band are great and well-educated and I personally appreciate them. They adore oriental music. Even the crowd are musically advanced," Salama added.
Salma will be accompanied by Ayman Sedky on the percussion, Ramadan Mansour on tabla, Mohamed Fouda on nai and the France-based tanoura dancer Raed.
The Source of Christmas
Stared in 1993, The Source band includes Seim, Øyvind Brække (trombone), Mats Eilertsen (bass) and Per Oddvar Johansen (drums). They have released several albums including The Source and Different Cikadas (2002) and The Source (2006) by ECM Records, while The Source: of Christmas, Live (2007), conducted by Christian Eggen, was produced by Grappa Music, featuring Sharkiat's Salama, Sedky, Mansour and the late Ahmad El-Ghazar (sagat) and Saleh El-Artist (accordion).
"God bless the souls of El-Ghazar and El-Artist. I was accompanied by many Sharkiat members in this event including Alfred Gamil (violin), Mamdouh Serour (nai) and Wael El-Fashni (rek and vocal)," Salama said.
The Source of Christmas is a big band concert, usually featuring the Kongelige Norske Marines Musikkorps (Norwegian Navy Band) and musician guests from various musical and cultural backgrounds, to play well-known Christmas tunes in new styles that include different genres such as classical, jazz, rock, country, Broadway, oriental and many others.
Cheb Hocine Derras, Tora Augestad, Marvin Charles, Lars Klevstrand, Jarle Bernhoft, Anne-Lise Berntsen and Finn Guttormsen have performed as part of the event, which this year takes place at Cosmopolite Scene.
"Christmas abroad is like a full month of a non-stop celebration. In Norway, people, go out and enjoy their times in spite of the cold weather and the snow that covers everything. You find brass section bands play Charismas standards in the streets very well and ordinary people know music very well. What the Source do is playing some of these well-known Christmas songs but in a very different flavour that really entertains and fulfils the taste of such an amazing crowd," Salama explained.
After cooperating with the giants of mainstream Egyptian pop in the 1980s like Amr Diab, Mohamed Mounir, Ali El-Haggar, Medhat Saleh and Anoshka, Salama formed his band Sharkiat, gaining fame in the continental and global jazz scene.
“The Godfather,” as his students like to call him, became a pioneer in the alternative music scene, boosting many currently famous bands and musicians, like Masar Egbari, Cairokee, Sharmoofers, Dina El-Wedidi, Mohamed Mohsen, Black Theama and many others, through his workshops and training programmes.
"Such great projects of Christmas really need support from the state, as Norway does. In Egypt, we have a few projects for Christmas, including the one of Nayer Nagi choir and Cairo Steps' Al-Moled Wal-Milad. We need more projects like these in Egypt to stand against extremism," Salama concluded.
Salama, who won the Grammy in 2005 for his collaboration with Senegalese singer and composer Youssou N’Dour on an Islamic Sufi album called Egypt, played three concerts in 2018 featuring famous Islamic chanter Mahmoud El-Tohamy.
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture