Cairo Jazz Festival to pay tribute to famous Egyptian cover bands from the 60s-80s

Ati Metwaly , Wednesday 27 Oct 2021

The 13th edition of Cairo Jazz Festival will open with an exhibition titled ‘Legendary Egyptian Bands’ that will showcase photos of musicians who have shaped Egyptian music scene's meanders and tastes.

Legendary Egyptian Bands
From top left clockwise: The Bell Boys, Al-Masryeen ensemble, Les Petits Chats, The Jets.

The festival is scheduled to run between 28 October and 4 November.

Taking place at the Margo Veillon Gallery, inside the Tahrir Cultural Centre (the American University’s building in Tahrir Square), the exhibition will remain open throughout the festival, presenting photos and advertising material of the pop, rock, and jazz formations that have had a strong impact on Egypt’s music history.

The opening will be paralleled with a special seminar taking place between 6 and 8pm.

“It is very important to remember our cultural and musical history,” Amro Salah, the founder and artistic director of the Cairo Jazz Festival tells Ahram Online.

“Through the exhibition, we want to remind the viewers, as well as restore a big part of the history that we have almost forgotten, and which constitutes an important component of our musical heritage and testifies to our cultural meanders.”

The exhibition will remind us of the great cover bands who in the past decades were beloved by audiences.

From Les Petits Chats and The Bell Boys to The Black Coats, Blue Birds, The Jets, and Ram Jam, the exhibition presents bands that marked the first steps of many musicians and boosted the careers of many renowned names in Egyptian culture.

Among the known figures included in the exhibition are renowned actor Ezzat Abu Aouf and famed composer Omar Khairat, who have both made their first steps in arts in the cover band Les Petits Chats.

The name of Ismail El-Hakim — the son of the great writer Tawfiq El-Hakim — is linked to The Black Coats, which he formed in the late 1970s.

Then comes the history represented by Hani Shenouda and Al-Masryeen ensemble, which also goes back to the 1970s. Shenouda will be present during the seminar held for the exhibition’s opening.

Though this is not the first time for the Cairo Jazz Festival to incorporate an exhibition to its programming that focuses mainly on jazz concerts and activities linked to this music genre, it’s the first time for the event to hold such an ambitious presentation of cultural heritage.

“The exhibition is a subtle reminder for today’s musicians and bands of the long history that has been formed on the hands of many great names. Those and many other bands performed in hotels and clubs, and many of them toured to thousands of their followers in Egypt and in the Arab world. The way they used to be promoted was also different, as they were considered stars of the times, not just side entertainers in commercial venues,” Salah noted.

When speaking of the differences in generations, Salah also pointed to the transition that happened in understanding music and people involved in its development. The exhibition aims to capture this change through photographs and memories.

“There are many dimensions that the exhibition focuses on; from the sheer reminder of the names that marked our cultural history to showcasing the historical development,” Salah explains while inviting viewers to find in the display points that speak of the cultural and social history of Egypt.

“It is this history that gives meaning to where we are today.”

The exhibition will be the first step in a large assortment of musical experiences which will continue until 4 November.

This year, the festival will present concerts by a number of artists from Egypt, such as Noha Fekry’s Quartet, Bahaa El-Dahaby’s Quintet, Tarek Raouf’s Ensemble, Mohamed Abu Zekry’s Sextet,  ‘Soul Trains’, ‘El-Dor El-Awal’, ‘Room 251’, and Samer George’s Quintet — featuring Doaa El-Sebai.

Additionally, the bands ‘OTAAK’ (USA-Egypt) and ‘Djaima’ (Bulgaria-France-Egypt), Agnes Gosling’s Quartet (The Netherlands-Egypt), Ayman Fanous and Frances-Marie Uitti (Egypt-USA), and ‘The All-Star Blues Experience’ (Sudan-Egypt-Lebanon) will also be performing.

The international contribution to the festival involves the ‘ICX Jazz Ensemble’ (USA), Starke & Gorter (Germany), ‘Dock in Absolute’ (Luxembourg), Mads Matthias’ Quartet (Denmark), ‘KruidKoek’ (The Netherlands), Christoph Stiefel’s Inner Language Trio (Switzerland), Edi Nulz (Austria), Viktor Toth Tercet (Hungary), and Nuno Campos’ Quartet (Portugal).

The festival will also hold a number of workshops and lectures on free improvisation, jamming techniques. and jazz diplomacy.

For details on the Cairo Jazz Festival’s programming, please visit the festival’s Facebook page.

The Cairo Jazz Festival was founded by Amro Salah in 2009 and has presented many important artists from jazz and other music genres on numerous stages across Cairo and Alexandria throughout the years.

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