Five acts to check out at Cairo Jazz Festival: from Brazilian samba to Sufi chants

The event celebrates Egypt’s colourful jazz community

Egyptian maestro Fathy Salama will perform at the Cairo Jazz Festival. NYUAD Arts Centre
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The Cairo Jazz Festival is set to return with another celebration of the country's rich independent music scene.

Running from Friday, November 13 to Friday, November 20, and taking place at multiple stages across the American University in Cairo’s Tahrir Campus, the week-long event will feature dozens of acts playing everything from progressive rock to bossa nova.

But, naturally, jazz will be at the musical forefront, with the festival cooking up a strong line-up featuring seasoned local acts, such as Grammy Award winner Fathy Salama and exciting international talent like Sweden's Claudia Campagnol.

All performances will follow safety guidelines and regulations designed by Egyptian health authorities.

With no further ado, here are five main acts to check out during the festival. For all details, go to the official Facebook page.

1. Sara Moullablad (Friday, November 13 at 7.30pm UAE time)

A regular performer in Cairo's jazz music scene, the Moroccan singer has built a loyal following for her colourful repertoire, which spans English and French jazz standards as well as Brazilian samba and bossa nova, In addition to performing her recent single Ya Denia, Moullablad's festival performance will showcase some new tunes from her upcoming debut album.

2. Sufism vs Modernism (Friday, November 13 at 11.30pm UAE time)

Pioneering Egyptian composer Fathy Salama and spiritual singer and compatriot Sheikh Mahmoud El Tohamy will bring their popular Sufism vs Modernism concert to the festival. The concept, which resulted in a sold-out show at NYU Abu Dhabi last year, features both artists melding the otherworldly harmonies of Sufi chanting with contemporary jazz.

3. Samer George (Tuesday, November 17 at 10pm UAE time)

This is a night where the Egyptian bassist will shine in his own light. As well as working as a music instructor at the American University in Cairo, George has performed with many leading acts in Egypt's jazz scene, including Eftekasat, Nagham Masry, The Riff Band and Cairo Big Band Society. Not only will he lead his own band this evening, but he will use the occasion to launch his new album 2020.

4. Claudia Campagnol (Thursday, November 19 at 10pm Cairo time / 12am UAE time)

The Swedish singer and former Stevie Wonder backing vocalist arrives in Cairo to perform songs from her 2019 debut album I Am Strong. In addition to sensual torch songs, the album is home to a sultry version of Charlie Chaplin's classic Smile.

5. Eftekasat (Friday, November 20 at 11.30pm UAE time)

Closing the festival is one of the leading lights of the Egyptian jazz scene. Approaching their 19th year, this veteran outfit found success on stage and screen with two acclaimed albums and a gig as the house band for TV comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live Arabia. Led by Amro Salah on the keyboards, the seven-piece is regionally known for their 2006 debut album Mouled Sidi El-Latini, a vibrant selection of tunes that fuses jazz with Levant folk sounds and progressive rock.


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