Cairo Jazz Festival reaches out to local and international audience

Abraxas Project
The fourth annual Cairo Jazz Festival opens this week with musical performances, film screenings, and workshops [Published in Ahram Online]
With the slogan “Egypt is Fine” to encourage tourism and cultural activity, the Cairo Jazz Festival is back for a fourth time, bringing jazz music to Egyptian society from 15 to 17 March.

 “We want to use this international event to send a message to the whole world that Egypt is fine,” Amro Salah, a jazz musician and the festival’s founder, told Ahram Online. “Cultural events are happening as the movement continues,” he added.

The lineup includes 14 bands and more than 100 musicians from 9 countries including Egypt, Japan, the USA, Portugal, Syria, Austria, Holland, Australia, and Spain.

The non-profit three-day festival will include musical performances at El Sawy Culturewheel’s different halls, along with the “Jazz After Hours” Programme that is set to take place at the Cairo Jazz Club and the hosting Kempinski hotel.

Each year, the festival pays tribute to a major jazz figure who has influenced the genre. In previous years they have commemorated key figures from the region such as Omar Khairat and Ziad Rahbani. This year they will be celebrate Dutch drummer Han Bennink for his 50 years of contributing to the modern jazz scene, awarding him a lifetime achievement trophy.

Bennink will also be leading a “drum circle” along with the school of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar and with audience members and musicians who wish to participate in this workshop. There will be other musical workshops happening throughout the duration of the festival.

This year, Salah’s Jazz band “Eftekasat” are celebrating their tenth anniversary. The Cairo Jazz Festival will also be celebrating ten years of underground music through film screenings, a photography exhibition of underground bands, and seminars.

“We would like to see underground music reach more audiences and build a history,” Salah explained.

“We want to spread jazz culture in Egypt, and to preserve the jazz heritage.”

According to Salah, the festival’s purpose is to create a bridge between young and established musicians, along with spreading awareness to the public on the social interaction that comes with attending live musical concerts.

“Jazz equals freedom,” Salah stated. “Jazz is full of spontaneity and improvisation; what is in your heart comes out on stage; beats are wild; you can never expect what is going to happen.”

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