Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Africa Spirit at the Fez Festival

SUNDAY, JUNE 06, 2010
Sunday at the Fes Festival has been a musical celebration of Africa. The afternoon concert under the oak at the Batha Museum took the audience on a voyage to the spice-filled isle of Zanzibar.

The virtuoso qanoun player, Rajab Suleiman, and his ensemble of bass and percussion played the ngoma rhythms of traditional songs as well as classical Arab pieces. The music had all the elements of Asia, Arabia, Africa and the Indian Ocean that make up the population of the island of Zanzibar. Suleiman is the musical director of the Culture Musical Club in Zanzibar. As a teacher at the Dhow Countries Music Academy he interprets just about anything from jazz to Bach.

Accompanying the trio was the legendary taarab singer, Shakila Saidi (pictured above). Saidi was the doyenne of the famous Black Star Musical Club in Tanga on the coast of Tanzania in the 1970s, and then joined the Taarab Orchestra in the 1980s. Taarab is the musical ecstasy that all Arabic singers strive to achieve. In Zanzibar, with its slave-trade background, the Swahili taarab is a mixture of eastern, Egyptian, Indian and Swahili music and forms the basis of dance rhythms such as the samba and rumba.

This was a languid afternoon of compelling rhythms and music easy to listen to - and hot enough to conjure up vanilla- and clove-scented beaches with swaying palm trees