Founded in 1999, Nagham Masry bought the now-popular fusion theme to Egypt's music scene. After a hiatus, the band is back with a little Spanish flavour, reuniting at Cairo Jazz Club next week.
Now, we know we’re always talking about the latest band to put together recognisable Western sounds with comforting Egyptian ones. We use abstract words like “fusion” without really explaining and head to gigs pretty much knowing what to expect; a Oud for a guitar, a Tabla to make sure things are all 3ala wahda we nos, and musicians that sing Arabic but dress American. However, one band that is equally obsessed with their heritage as they are with experimenting raised the bar for fusion music the moment they played their very first gig in 1999. It’s been a long road since then, with their lead guitarist heading to Spain to hone his skills. But the legendary Ousso is back on home turf and the spectacular Nagham Masry will be reuniting on the Cairo Jazz Club stage this Saturday 19th October.
Winning the first place the day they debuted their act at Cairo’s iconic Citadel, Nagham Masry have gotten blending East and West down to a T. With vocalist Sherbini and guitarist Ousso having met by chance, many years ago, it seems like fate has been on the band’s side since day one. What makes Nagham Masry’s sound really stand out in a country where blending styles has gone past being a la mode and, instead, has become the norm, is that their fusion isn’t forced. Yes, the band consists of a drummer, a guitarist and a keyboardist, as well as a Oud player and a Qanun artist. And, yes, they mix and match these elements to create a sound that’s palatable for most ears, no matter which side of the East/West divide the listener’s on. But sometimes, depending on the song, you’ll find their compositions fully Westernised and sometimes, only the Eastern side plays. With a roster of original tracks, detailing the colourful lives of every day Egyptians, their poetic lyrics lend themselves to different sounds, as varied and unexpected as living in Egypt. Sometimes this leads to the fusion of styles, sometimes both parts of the band play separately, but they never fail to impress.
With guitarist Ousso having travelled to Spain, Nagham Masry had been off the radar for quite some time. With his return, however, we expect him to have learned a thing or two to add a whole new dimension to the band’s sound. It was in Spain, after all, where Arabic music met with Western ears for the first time and continues to influence the country’s sound; ya leily ya leil still signals the start of many a Flamenco track, until this day. Now that Ousso’s back, so are Nagham Masry and it’s about damn time. We promise we won’t use the word “fusion” again if you head down to CJC on the last day of the long vacation and get a musical awakening.
Nagham Masry will reunite at Cairo Jazz Club on 19th October at 7.30PM. To reserve your spot, use Tazkarty.net