A few years ago I organized the Cairo recordings sessions.
It’s a fascinating city with 20 millions people living in the middle of the desert. It is great in summertime even though it’s very hot and there’s big traffic jams, the Nile River crosses the town and brings fresh air.
Cairo’s history is huge. So many things to discover: the fascinating pyramids, the beautiful mosques, the Egyptian antiquities museum, the Copt quarter… The life in the streets is intense. With thousands of shops and craftsmen, the activity in the city is incredible. I started my recordings in a venue named “Makan”. That’s really a typical place where the owner is also organizing concerts preserving the traditional music of Egypt.
The Cairo music scene is rich with many great musicians and I’ve recorded some of them, notably the Zar band Mazaher.
The “Zar” is a very ancient ritual dance of possession coming from Sudan and Ethiopia. This tradition has become a bit taboo and this unique style is disappearing. This music has a really outstanding power and energy.
I was really lucky to record this and notably the lead female singer of Mazaher.
I started The Cairo recordings sessions at Makan withAmin Ibrahim Aly who is playing the “arghoul”. People say: that instrument has existed since the pharaonic period.
I’ve used an arghoul sample in “Agabat” on the album “Travel Impressions”. I also recorded Hassan Hamidou who plays m’rababa (typical Egyptian violin) and the male singer Sayed Iman.
After this, I did my recordings at the Yacubian building. That’s an incredible place, which gave its name to the Egyptian movie “Yacubian Building”; a beautiful movie that I highly recommend. This building is a 1930’s luxury apartment building with so much old fashion charm and vibrations.
Philippe Dib, who is living there, is a talented musician playing the pentam, canun and many percussions.
Philippe has invited some friends, among them Ahmed Oman (who plays the oud) and the incredible male singer Hany Adel.
I’m always happy to reminisce about Egypt. It is a unique place with multiple landscapes. The western oasis: Siwa, Dakhla, the White Desert, the Sinai Peninsula, the Red Sea Riviera… A great place to visit!!