Article By Aaron T. Rose
Eclectic quartet H4O took to the stage on Sunday night in Mohandessin’s Cairo Jazz Club to showcase their styling that mixes jazz with traditional Oriental music and everything in between.
Fronted by renowned Egyptian guitar idol Ousso Lotfy, H4O is the newly-formed incarnation of Lotfy, Hany El-Badry on wood flute, Samer George on bass, and Mostafa Abbas on drums. The group’s members groove together seamlessly, in no small part because they have been friends for more than a dozen years. H4O’s sound combines relaxed harmonies with melodies that challenge and engage. The group smooth style paired well with the swanky nightlife of the Jazz Club.
Lotfy’s musical journey that brought him to H4O has been long and diverse, something that comes through in the music. Born and raised in Cairo, Lotfy developed a passion for music at a young age. Though guitar wasn’t his first instrument, it took the foreground when he first heard the guitar solo in “Mr Brownstone” by legendary American rock and roll band Guns N’ Roses. Even as a child, Lotfy worked to achieve his musical goals.
“I worked hard. I practiced and paid my dues,” said Lotfy.
As Lotfy grew up, he helped carve out Cairo’s underground music scene in the 1990s with his heavy metal band, Implosion. Simultaneously, he played in another band covering classic rock standards for groups like The Doors and The Beatles.
With the 1996 collapse of Cairo’s underground scene, Lotfy changed directions. With encouragement of studio owner Nasser Fathy, Lotfy broadened his musical horizons and decided to play guitar as a career. Already familiar with styles including rock, jazz, and flamenco, Lotfy soon found as much commercial and critical success as he had found in the underground.
A founding member of well-known groups Nagham Masry and Eftekasat, Lotfy has worked hard to develop Egypt’s music scene and grow emerging artists. As creator of the SOS Music Festival, Lotfy has ushered in a new generation of underground music in Egypt. In addition, he has also lent his talents to the American University in Cairo where he was an instructor in music technology and taught guitar.
In 2012, Lotfy left Cairo to study music at the world-famous Berklee School of Music in Valencia, Spain.
“There was too much happening here. I couldn’t focus on growing my music,” said Lotfy.
After graduating from Berklee with his master’s degree, Lotfy was invited to stay on in a teaching role. Studying, jamming, and creating at Berklee with people from 25 different countries, Lotfy credits his new surrounding with adding new sounds to his music. But it’s undeniable; all of H4O’s music has roots in the band’s Egyptian heritage.
Lotfy will return to Spain early next month, but H4O is looking forward to beginning production on an album together sometime in December or January. The group has one more gig before Lotfy departs.
They’ll be performing on Tuesday, 5 November at the River Hall at Sakia.
Bang Your Head!
Wyvern is on the stage, so bang your head! The performance of Wyvern makes you feel that you are listening to a top class band from the old-school. The crowd gets into the mood spontaneously unable to resist the awesome music and bang their heads on Wyvern’s riffs. The band was formed in November 2003 as a 4-piece heavy metal band to cover the songs of heavy/thrash metal legends. In a society that doesn’t accept rock/metal genre it was really difficult for wyvern to get the exposure needed to present their music. They find their way through SOS.
It’s a gloomy Cairo morning in mid-March – the sky is grey, the traffic has crawled to a standstill and I’m officially late for my flight to Beirut. The Red Bull Egypt office kindly invited me to join their regional Bass Camp Beirut program, as part of the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA), held each year. It felt like a beautiful dream when the Red Bull representative described the program to me – three days filled with new faces, music, and cross-cultural collaborations. Now in its 15th year, the Red Bull Music Academy has been popping up around the globe – the world-traveling festival includes a series of music workshops and performances aimed at creating a platform for those who shape our musical future. RBMA’s Bass Camp, is currently taking place in various regions through out the world, and acts as a mini version of the real Music Academy, which will take place in New York in September.
According to the program’s literature,
“Bass Camp Beirut will arrive in Beirut on March 23rd, 24th, and 25th, with the aim of bringing together four leaders of the music industry with 30-40 gifted instrumentalists, vocalists, DJs, and producers from across the Middle East, for a three-day musical explosion.”
We attended the SOS Music Festival yesterday at the Chinese Garden on the Cairo International Conference Center grounds. The name chosen for the all-day, 8-bands affair reflects the opinion, shared by many Egyptians, that low-quality pop music has monopolized Egyptian airwaves, leaving nothing to the real musicians. This festival was an attempt at saving the music.
And saving it did! All the factors that make attending open-air music festivals enjoyable were there. The location is a huge garden with a big grass field, probably donated by the Chinese government, that comfortably accepted the 2000-3000 attendees. Once inside, past what looked like decent security gates, we immediately felt transported to an alternate and sorely-missed Egypt. One where you can stroll around freely, lay on the grass, enjoy the nice weather and relax to the music. Without being subjected to scolding or lustful stares, authoritarian treatment, or flea-market swindles. domain list The crowd, mostly university students, were there for the music and the good time. Since no alcohol was allowed, there were no fights or the typical weird vibes. I did not smell too much drugs either 🙂 Read More
By Sarah Loat BBC NEWS Cairo, Egypt Fifteen thousand young music fans attended the recent SOS Music Festival held in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.Disillusioned with what they see as the low quality, sexualised, commercial pop music available on the Egyptian television and airwaves, a group of young musicians began an ambitious project to share original, underground music and support Egypt’s home-grown talent. The music was highly diverse – rock, metal, reggae, modern Egyptian, rai, contemporary oriental jazz and hip-hop. The driving force behind the festival is 28-year-old Ousso, a session musician and guitarist in jazz fusion band Eftekasat.
“I decided to create a platform for good music, original music, underground music. Confidence is low in Egypt. People tend to imitate more than innovate,” Ousso said. “I’m against that, I want to create an opportunity for this generation to innovate and for the audience to enjoy good music absolutely new to them.”
Musical revolution With the support of major sponsors, the event was free for the 15,000 invited fans. Ousso he is aiming to begin a musical revolution.Read More
Dorian Lynskey The Guardian, Friday 8 June 2007
Bringing together 12 musicians from across the Arab world was ‘nuts’, Music Matbakh’s Justin Adams tells Dorian Lynskey, but the result has been harmony, not conflict.
It is a warm and noisy Saturday night in Casablanca. On the Boulevard d’Anfa, Moroccan football fans are celebrating their team’s 2-0 defeat of Zimbabwe in an African Cup of Nations qualifier. On the forecourt of a nearby Italian restaurant, 20 musicians and crew from seven countries are having dinner.
The table slowly accrues a layer of pizza crusts, beer bottles and overflowing ashtrays, while the air fills with smoke, spontaneous outbursts of song, incomprehensible in-jokes, and the babble of conversation in English, French and Arabic. Even by the standards of musical director Justin Adams – whose long career includes fusions of western and Arabic music with Robert Plant and Jah Wobble, and producing the music of the Touareg band Tinariwen – it is a chaotically cosmopolitan scene. Not for the first or last time, he looks cheerfully overwhelmed by the whole Music Matbakh experience.
“It’s completely nuts,” he says, shaking his head. “It could have been a complete disaster.”
The British Council approached Adams about Music Matbakh last Christmas. He was asked to choose two artists from each of six countries – Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon – from shortlists drawn up by the council’s local staff. Including Adams and two other British members, Matbakh numbers 15 musicians. When the final lineup arrived in the UK, he had to work out a set from scratch, and then mount a short tour. He acknowledges that the concept might have been a recipe for either blandly exotic mulch, or blaring chaos. Even the name – matbakh means kitchen – seems to invite unflattering comments about too many cooks.
Adams recalls the speech he made the day they met. “I said: ‘Look, we’re all musicians and we know this situation is insane. It can take years to find chemistry. It can take years to work on a great set. We don’t know each other, and we’re going to try to write a set in four days. Let’s accept we’re in a crazy situation, try to enjoy ourselves, and see what happens.'”
In the event, a fairly cohesive set of songs was written, and the dates went smoothly. The next phase, to be filmed by a documentary crew, involves a show in each of the member countries, starting in Morocco at the Boulevard festival.
Also you can catch Casser Le Mur @ the Cairo Jazz club on Saturday 21st November.Read More
It sounded like the idea for a reality TV show. Take 14 musicians who play different styles, have never met, and come from six countries across north Africa and the Middle East; put them in a rehearsal room in Britain with a musical director who is best known as Robert Plant’s guitarist, and give them a task. “Just two weeks ago,” explained Justin Adams, “we were told we had four days to come up with a set.” Then they were off on tour. Organised by the British Council and the Serious production team, Music Matbakh (Arabic for “kitchen”) is an experiment in promoting cultural awareness, and is of course being filmed. It is a fine idea, but whether the music would be any good after just a handful of concerts was another question. At the Spitz, the show was first under-cooked and then impressive. It all started with a burst of Arabic hip-hop, with rappers from Lebanon and Morocco matched against cool, drifting vocals from a singer from Jordan and a ney flute player from Syria. Then came jazz-funk, a fine oud solo, laptop-induced beats and a series of guitar, bass and drum solos. This was more like a parade of individual musicians than a band, and the audience began to lose interest. After the interval, thankfully it all changed. An exquisite ballad by Jordan’s Ruba Saqr was followed by Arabian Desert, in which Justin Adams at last demonstrated his driving guitar work, which transformed the show. twitter down . Lebanese hip-hop from Beirut’s RGB MC and Hiba Mansour, electric violin work from Egyptian rai exponent Mohamed Medhat, and saxophone solos from the British jazz virtuoso Soweto Kinch suddenly began to fit together. By the finale, with Highway to Casablanca, this sounded like an intriguing band in the making.
Link : http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2007/may/29/worldmusic