Isn't spring in Cairo wonderful? The weather is sunny and chilled, plus we of course have 2013's Cairo Jazz Festival. This year, the festival's organisers have really outdone themselves and as always, the line-up of live music looks rather tasty.
There are few true jazz superstars these days, but as this year's festival – which will invade stages at Al Azhar Park, El Genaina Theatre, Darb 1718 and Cairo Jazz Club – shows, jazz is, and will always be, alive and kicking. Feast your eyes on what this year's festivities have to offer.
First of all, seventy year old Brazilian bossa nova bro, Gilberto Gil, doesn't look a day over fifty; he must play a lot of beach volleyball. But more than just an age-defying musician with awesome salt-and-pepper dreadlocks, Gil has, over the years, fused his political career with his music. Formerly the Minister of Culture in Brazil, his musical innovation has been popular with all Brazilians alike, via an incredible discography that features over fifty albums.
If you've never heard of Amazigh music, then shame on you. Apart from a brief obsession with Rai music and heart-pulsating song, Abdel Kader, Egypt has forever seemed to be blind to our North African neighbours' eclectic music scene. Morocco's Ribab Fusion could be the band to change all of that, with their unique, mystical musical stylings. If ever there ever was a prime example of genuine, authentic 'world music', it would be in the hands of this eclectic six-man group.
Dina El Wedidi
Dina El Wedidi is no stranger to the suffocated live music scene in Cairo and has, against the odds, established herself as one of the most active musicians in the country. Seen everywhere from Cairo Jazz Club to El Sawy Culturewheel throughout the year, El Wedidi's blend of jazz and rock – with a cheeky Oriental touch – will fly Egypt's flag proudly.
Sultry German-Finnish singer, Kristiina Tuomi, spells her first name with two i's which automatically means that she is incredibly cool. But over-use of vowels aside, the majority of Tuomi's coolness comes from her badass approach to music. With the help of pianist Carsten Daerr and double bass player Carlos Bic, Tuomi's fusion of poetry and jazz has taken her on tours across Europe, Africa and Asia. Expect plenty of beautifully melancholic jams.
More home-grown talent is on show in the form of the irrepressible Eftekasat. As one of the busiest acts in Cairo, the members of Eftekasat have been going strong for an impressive twelve years. In that time, their trailblazing style of Oriental jazz has garnered them a huge following. Two albums in and almost ten international festival appearances later, Eftekasat have firmly cemented their status as possibly the most critically successful modern band in Egypt.
Coming to Cairo Jazz Festival from Austria, GMH Orkestar are one of the most interesting acts on this year's line-up. Utilising a range of musical genres that include everything from Latin American jazz to Balkan folk, this four-man-one-woman group are just as batty and eccentric as they look; when they perform, they really perform. We just hope that front-woman, Franziska Hatz, brings her accordion to Cairo.
We're especially excited about seeing Ms Denhert in action – she just oozes soul. Having hit mainstream musical consciousness in the US in the 80s, Denhert's popularity, critical acclaim and award wins have seen the Grenadian-American singer turn into an entrepreneur of sorts; opening record label, Mother Cyclone. But music is and will forever be her first love and her folk-jazz music is one of the highlight of this year's festival.
Neil Cowley Trio
Having anointed himself and his musical pals the names Fragile State and the Green Nuns before settling on the Neil Cowley Trio, British contemporary jazz pianist, Neil Cowley, has some considerable clout as a musician. As a bright-eyed teen, Cowley performed with the likes of glass-eyed British soul singer, Gabrielle, and popular London group, Zero 7. His latest big-time credit came on Adele's second album, 21, where he flexed his piano prowess once more.
This is just a snapshot of the live music on offer – check out the Cairo 360 events Calendar for more!