In Photos: Cairo Jazz Festival opens, lights up downtown

Nourhan Tewfik , Friday 21 Oct 2016

Since 2009, the festival has become one of the city’s most anticipated annual events

8th Cairo Jazz Festival

Tens of jazz aficionados headed to downtown’s GrEEK Campus on Thursday for the opening night of the 8th Cairo Jazz Festival (CJF) which runs until 22 October.

First up on stage were Ala Ghawas & Likwid, an on-stage collaboration bringing together Bahraini musician and record producer Ala Ghawas, and the Bahraini band Likwid.

The line-up comprises Ghawas (vocals/guitar), and members of Likwid band: Ahmed Alqasim (bass/vocals), Khalid Alshamlan (piano/backing vocals), Ahmed Abdulaziz (electric guitar/ backing vocals), Abdulrahman Malallah (percussion) and Abdalla Haji (saxophone).

Ghawas commenced his music career as early as 2007, the year he released his debut EP, Hums. He followed Hums with other equally successful EPs, including Whispers in 2008 and Screams in 2009.

Ala Ghawas & Likwid
Bahraini musician and record producer Ala Ghawas and Bahraini band Likwid perform together at the opening of the 8th Cairo Jazz Festival (Photo: Nourhan Tewfik)

Likwid is one of Bahrain’s most celebrated bands. Their debut singles Love for Rent and Cheated in Life, were released in 2014 and garnered much success. 

In 2011, Ghawas collaborated with Likwid, and together they worked on an album titled Armor, comprising songs written by Ghawas, and released in November 2013.

The next act was the Austrian/Swiss ensemble comprising Peter Rom (guitar), Andreas Schaerer (vocals) and Martin Eberle (trumpet/flugelhorn).

The ensemble was founded as early as 2009, and has thus far released two CDs:  Please Don´t Feed the Model (2011) and At the Age of Six I Wanted to Be a Cook (2013).  

Rom, Schaerer, Eberle
Peter Rom (guitar), Andreas Schaerer (vocals), and Martin Eberle (trumpet, flugelhorn) perform at the opening of the 8th Cairo Jazz Festival (Photo: Nourhan Tewfik)

The ensemble's performance was followed by Carmen Souza & Theo Pascal Trio (Portugal) 
who introduced their contemporary African jazz sound to the Cairene audience.

The project’s line-up comprises Carmen Souza (vocals/piano), Theo Pascal (bass) and Elias Kacomanolis (drums).

Carmen Souza & TheoPascal Trio
Carmen Souza & TheoPascal Trio (Portugal)
 perform at the opening of the 8th Cairo Jazz Festival (Photo: Nourhan Tewfik)

Closing the night was Lebanese singer, songwriter and visual artist Tania Saleh who performed a selection of her widely-acclaimed songs spanning her four albums to date: Tania Saleh (2002), Wehde (2011), Live at DRM (2012) and most recently Shwayit Souwar (A Few Images, 2015).

Saleh was joined on stage by Egyptian oud master, singer and composer Hazem Shaheen, also the founder and lead singer of Egyptian band Eskenderella.

This marked the duo's third on-stage collaboration since they first performed together last September at both Cairo’s El-Genaina Theatre and Bibliotheca Alexandrina. With Shaheen on the oud, the duo performed songs from both Saleh and Eskenderella’s repertoires as well as Shou Hal Iyyam, a song by prominent composer, singer and playwright Ziad Rahbani.

Tania Saleh
Lebanese musician Tania Saleh performs at the 8th Cairo Jazz Festival (Photo: Nourhan Tewfik)

This year’s edition of Cairo Jazz Festival features a vibrant line-up of international musicians from Bahrain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Holland, Czechia and Hungary.

An array of Egyptian artists will also perform at this year's edition, including Hamza Namira, the Noha Fekry & Amro Salah Trio, Shady Al Qaseer group, and HOH, a collaborative project between musicians Hany Adel, Ousso Lotfy, and Hany El-Dakkak.  Check the full programme here.

All main events take place at downtown's GrEEK Campus, which has two stages; the outdoor main stage and the indoor stage, located inside the library building.

The festival also comprises the Jazz Beyond Stage programme, taking place in parallel to the festival and held at the Cairo Jazz Club.

Founded by Egyptian musician Amro Salah in 2009, Cairo Jazz Festival has become one of the city’s most anticipated annual events.

With its aspiration to create a jazz audience in Cairo, the festival has for the past eight years provided the space for a fervent introduction of the musical genre, hosting many national and international jazz musicians and bands.

Speaking to Ahram Online in a 2015 interview, Salah said that the festival’s aim is “to inform people of what jazz is about, especially that there exists a major misconception -- in the whole world -- that looks at jazz as a sophisticated genre that not everyone can access and listen to.”

This festival also includes workshops and open jam sessions, in addition to jazz-themed activities catered to children and sponsored by Art Mania.

 GrEEK Campus, 28 Falaki St, Bab El-Louk, Downtown Cairo

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