2011 marks the third year of the Cairo Jazz Festival (CJF), which was launched by Amro Salah in 2009 as way to add to the culture agenda. Salah is the pianist and composer for Egypt’s most renowned oriental jazz band Eftekasat. He has previously attended many such festivals all over the world and was keen to replicate an international, well-organized event in Egypt. His extensive experience in the contemporary Egyptian music scene led him to found Agwa Productions in 2009, the official organizer of the CJF.
According to Salah, that there is a long history of jazz in Egypt, but unfortunately it is not well-documented. Jazz peaked in Egypt in the 1960s but then saw a decline in the 70s and 80s. However, in the last twenty years, Egypt has witnessed a small but growing jazz scene. According to Salah, one of the main objectives of the festival is to increase interest in jazz music events.
'We can’t wait for things to happen,' he said. 'Each individual has to take action in his or her own field.'
In light of the recent January 25th revolution, the CJF has dedicated this year’s festival to the martyrs of January 25th, 'Who gave their lives for the sake of the freedom of their country.'
According to the festival’s press release, this year’s theme will be related to Egypt by supporting Egyptian handmade products: the Coptic society ‘Friends of the Holy Bible’ will showcase handmade products throughout the festival at El Sawy Culturewheel.
This year, the two-day festival’s line-up consists of thirteen bands from Egypt, Japan and Germany as well as Spain, USA, Holland, Austria, Slovenia, Portugal, and Australia.
Dutch band ARIFA will perform on Friday March18th. The band’s leader Sjahin During performed last year with his previous band, Tararhana. He told Cairo 360 that he’s ‘very excited and happy to be back.’
ARIFA is a unique band, with four artists from different countries and different educational backgrounds, giving them ‘a different approach than the norm for this type of music,’ according to During.
Adam Miller is the leader of the Adam Miller Group and has lived in Cairo for three years with his Egyptian wife and family. He told Cairo 360 that he’s delighted and overjoyed to participate in the festival and dedicates his performance to the martyrs of the revolution.
Although all concerts will be held at El Sawy Culturewheel, the Cairo Jazz Club will hold a ‘Jazz Beyond Stage’ event every night from 8PM onwards, where jazz musicians can meet, exchange contacts and jam together. Austrian band Stelzhamma will perform at the Cairo Jazz Club on Thursday, Spanish band Calima will perform on Friday, and Dutch band ARIFA will perform on Saturday.
Furthermore, El Sawy Culturewheel will hold an open jam session for jazz musicians at Wisdom Hall this Friday, March 18th from 3:30PM till 5PM.
Even better, the CJF will host a percussions jam session led by the Percussion Show from Egypt, which features some of the country’s top percussionists. This jam will feature guest percussionists from Cuba, Brazil and Spain. The session will be held in El Sawy's River Garden on Saturday from 4PM till 6:30PM.
Jazz is not just for adults; the CJF will feature Jazzino, a special program for children in El Sawy’s Wisdom Hall garden on Friday and Saturday, where kids are invited to jam with jazz musicians and enjoy the music. The purpose of the program is to create awareness of jazz music and music education among Egyptian children.
The CJF will be the perfect opportunity to let your hair down with excellent live music; so put on your dancing shoes and head on down to El Sawy Culturewheel. More information can be found at the CJF homepage or CJF Facebook page.