Saturday, 17 February 2018

Music From Sudan and Egypt 2011 in Austria

On to an area which has not much (only once) been visited here. The Tour of Africa pt.2 ended in Ethiopia after having passed through Sudan, now let's go from there along the Nile all the way up the Egyptian coast at the Mediterranean Sea.


Abdel Gadir Salim (from Sudan) and El Tanbura (from Egypt)
2011.Jul.30 at Glatt & Verkehrt Festival in Krems, Austria
source: Glatt & Verkehrt 2011 - Ein Rückblick

Abdel Gadir Salim (from Sudan)

Abdel Gadir Salim is a folk singer and bandleader from Sudan. He is one of the most well-known Sudanese singers in the West, having performed around the world and recorded in many nations including England.
Salim was born in the village of Dilling, Kordofan province, amidst the Nuba Mountains in the west of Sudan approximately in the 1950s. Salim trained in both European and Arabic music at the Institute of Music in Khartoum, beginning with Oud at the behest of a friend. By 1971 he changed from composing urban-styled music to country tunes. Seeking out traditional and colloquial songs to perform, he began in his native Kordofan and Darfur. Rarely writing his own lyrics, the songs he finds range from politically-aware, educational arguments to love ballads. Salim is noted for maintaining a neutral repertoire that keeps him from irritating the Islamic government of Sudan.
Many of Salim’s rhythms come from traditional, such as wedding, dances, often in strident 6/8 beats. Some of the beats, from desert areas, are modeled after the gait of camels. His sonorous voice, influenced by Egyptian styles, comes often in a long, steady croon. Often his music is called ‘Egyptian Pop.’
Salim’s lyrics, and the English interpretations thereof, give valuable insight to Sudanese culture. One song, called Al-Lemoni, compares a beautiful woman to a lemon. The record jacket explains that the Sudanese refer to their skin color as green as opposed to black or brown. Therefore to compare a woman to a lemon is poetic flattery. Jeenaki, or “The Return of Geese,” describes how the sight of geese is a welcome indication of rain in the desert of river-scarce Sudan, where flocks of geese alight to drink from pools.
Salim performs solo at times, though most often with his group, the All-Stars. Hamid Osman Abdalla, the saxophonist, comes from Dilling as well.
Salim shared duties in his careers as international performer and as headmaster of a school in Chad between at least the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s. According to a statement on the back of his album Nujum Al-Lail (Stars in the Night) (1989, Globe Style, UK), the two careers harmonize without strain.

El Tanbura (from Egypt)

El Tanbura are a collective of veteran Egyptian master musicians, singers, fishermen and philosophers. For the past seventeen years they’ve been custodians of some of Egypt’s oldest folk melodies at their home in Port Said, the Mediterranean gateway to the Suez Canal.
No one knows the exact origins of the Simsimiyya. One Egyptian legend tells how the first instrument was fashioned from the shell of an unfortunate turtle that had swum too far along the Nile and ended up as dinner for a hungry musician. Other stories say the Simsimiyya has existed for centuries in the Arabian Gulf, and her music (the lyre is always referred to as feminine and her players as lovers) has the ability to calm the waters of the Red Sea. Another folk tale attributes her origins to a mysterious enchanting Siren who slowly seduces both the lover and the audience with mesmerising melodies derived from ancient exorcism rituals.
We do know that the instrument only arrived in Port Said during the 1930s; much to the frustration of the local Suhbagiyya (musicians) who had previously enjoyed the undivided attention of local audiences with Damma songs - a fusion of Sufi inspired vocal chants and frenzied drumming. It was only after the Suez Crisis of 1956 that Dama and Simsimiyya musicians embraced both repertoires. The War drew the former rivaling musicians together as the Simsimiyya provided a voice for the resistance movement through protest songs; a tradition that continued in the subsequent War of 1967 and exile of the people of Port Said during the Israeli occupation of Sinai. In exile, the diaspora communities would gather and sing the old songs reminding them of home.
In the 1950s Zakaria Ibrahim, El Tanbura’s founder, first heard the Suhbagiyya in Port Said as a young boy. The music he heard as a child haunted him all of his adult life and, on returning to Port Said in 1980, and seeing the desperate musical conditions, he spent nine years seeking out the old masters and building friendships, trying to convince the musicians to perform once again. And El Tanboura group was born.
At first, news of the group’s rehearsals drew scorn and ridicule from the commercial musicians; however the infectious atmosphere of the initial performances convinced others with an interest in Sufi philosophy and the pre-War traditions of Port Said to join the floating collective of El Tanbura’s members.
Over time, the band grew to include not only folk musicians and percussionists, but dancers and singers drawn from local fishermen, market traders and builders, alongside the unlikely addition of master instrumentalists from some of the State-approved music troupes who were desperate to perform with others who had a vibrancy of spirit and to play long-forgotten songs from antiquity - praising something other than the government approved subjects.
Band members dress in an eclectic mix of gallibiyas and Levis with Gucci sunglasses, fez and Nike caps. Their music is driven by the seductive call of the Simsimiyya. They perform regularly in Port Said and at Masrah El Damma in downtown Cairo.
More about El Tanbura in the Media:
*2006.Oct.17: El Tanbura - Egyptian folk music at its best - independent.co.uk
*2017.Nov.24: Celebrating three decades of folk band El Tanbura - egypttoday.com

Listen to a track by El Tanbura:


SALIM, ABDEL GADIR and EL TANBURA - 20110730 Festival Austria (R6-ORF)

Abdel Gadir Salim Band:
1.Stars of the Night / 2.Gota Nagany (I Want to Sing) / 3.Gedreschine (Small Girl)
El Tanbura:
1.Lover of Art* / 2.25 January (revolution song) / 3.Laly

Both recorded 2011.Jul.30 by ORF at Glatt & Verkehrt Festival in Krems, Austria
Both broadcasted 2012.Aug.04-11 by Dutch Radio 6 VPRO in De Zaterdagavond
note: *has some 10sec.distortion at ca.3min (from the original broadcast/recording)

Request: I suppose there are more recordings made of these performers at that festival, and most likely broadcasted also by Austrian and/or other European radio stations. If anybody has those, I am very interested... (so please write in comments)

Discography of Abdel Gadir Salim:
only international realeses, local K7s and vinyl unknown and/or unreadable (for me at least)
1987: Sounds of Sudan Vol.1 - Songs from Kordofan (LP)
1989: Nujum al-Lail - Stars of the Night (LP/CD)
1990: VA - Sounds Of Sudan (CD) - 3 tracks by Abdel Gadir Salim - bandcamp
1991: The Merdoum Kings Play Songs of Love (CD) - bandcamp
1999: Le Blues de Khartoum (CD)
2005: Ceasefire (with Emmanuel Jal) (CD)

Discography El Tanbura:
1999: La Simsimiyya de Port Said (CD)
2002: Noh El Hamam (K7)
2003: Ahwa Qamar (CD/K7)
2006: Between the Desert and the Sea (CD) - bandcamp
2009: Friends of Bamboute - 20th Anniversary Edition (CD) - bandcamp
2013: January 26th (CD)

NEVER EVER FORGET:

"il faut me pardonner - you must forgive me"

Pap Djah's last words before left on his own in the Sahara desert (in Niger)

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