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All that jazz !

For the second consecutive year, Egypt will celebrate it’s annual Cairo Jazz Festival (11-15 March) at El-Sawi Culture Wheel. This year, renowned Egyptian pianist Omar Khairat, legendary Lebanese composer Ziad Rahbani, as well as Spanish flamenco and jazz icon Carles Benavent are being honored. Throughout the five-day event, 12 bands will play jazz tunes from around the globe: France, Spain, Austria, Holland, the United States, Japan, and Egypt. The festival will also include to two music workshops with Royal Crown Revue (USA) and Makoto Kuriya (Japan).

This year’s selection of bands reflect a variety of jazz flavors. The Merry Poppins (Austria) are the first live band to fuse Balkan styles with jazz and reggae, while Tahrana (named after an old Anatolian Soup), a multi-ethnic troupe from Amsterdam, mixes Afro-Anatolian grooves with Gypsy melodies and a touch of sufi music. From the United States comes the Royal Crown Revue, famous for having featured in soundtracks to movies like "The Mask" and television series like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" where they mix jazz, blues and different sorts of root music. The French band Abraxas Projekt explores the border between electronic and contemporary jazz. Japanese jazz icon Makoto Kuriya, who has released more than 10 jazz albums and collaborated in numerous film soundtracks, is also part of this year’s festival. Egyptian bands include El Dor El Awal, The Rashad Fahim Trio and The Riff Band. Fahim’s classic music background together with his jazz education at Boston’s Berklee College of Music has made him an icon of jazz piano, an instrument in which he excels and is now teaching. The Riff Band presents traditional jazz songs by legends like Nat "King" Cole, George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra as well selections of contemprary jazz. F.Y.I / Ossama (Egypt / USA) is the first Egyptian to receive a full scholarship from Berklee College of Music, with highest recommendations from Berklee’s evaluation team, and has played with legends such as Steve Smith and Dave Weckl. Akram el-Sharkawi, a student of Rashid Fahim, has performed in numerous local venues such as the Citadel Festival and the Cairo Opera House. Last but not least is Eftekasat Jazz Group, winners of the Culture Resource Award in 2005 and organizers of the annual Cairo Jazz Festival. They were formed in 2002 and within a few years released their first album "Moulid Sidi el-Latini" (The Latin Dervish) which was a big success. Their oriental jazz/rock fusion is quite remarkable.

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