Care tutte e tutti, eccomi di nuovo qui con un articolo, per presentarvi un gruppo musicale che si trova proprio dentro il mondo arabo ed esattamente ad Amman, in Giordania. Il mio interlocutore è Abdul-Wahab Kayyali, bravissimo suonatore di ‘ud e membro fondatore del gruppo. Oggi, appunto, vi presento il Juthoor Ensemble e la loro musica. Da settembre in poi riprenderemo i fili del discorso per approfondire, insieme ad Abdul che si è dimostrato disponibilissimo, altri aspetti della loro musica e di quella araba e mediterranea, in generale. Buona lettura e buon ascolto musicale!
C.: Hello Juthoor Ensemble, I’m happy to meet you and your music! Please, tell me something about your ensemble: who are you and where are you from?
A.: We are a group of musicians from Amman, Jordan. There are four permanent members in the ensemble: Nasser Salameh (36) is on percussion, Abdul-Wahab Kayyali (30) is on oud, Mohammed Tahboub (24) is on violin, and Ghassan Abu Haltam (21) is on clarinet. We are sometimes joined by guest performers on different instruments, but the four of us constitute the core of Juthoor – which in Arabic means roots.
C.: Tell me about the music you play! Do you like traditional music? What kind of music do you prefer to play?
A.: We seek to revive and develop the instrumental tradition in oriental music. We realize that the instrumental tradition of the early twentieth century in the Middle East is classical, and is in modes (maqams) that may be difficult for the modern ear to hear and appreciate. As a result, we seek to interpret this music in a modern way, and make it easier to listen to and appreciate.
We are all from Amman, Jordan. We have been schooled in various traditions, but we know that the instrumental heritage of the Middle East was developed in the major urban centers of the Ottoman Empire – Istanbul, Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus. We are familiar with this tradition, and we seek to produce an interpretation of this music in an authentically Jordanian way. Because Amman is not one of those urban centers, we are not bound to a specific interpretation of oriental music, and fuse influences from all of these.
We perform classical instrumental oriental forms such as samai, bashraf, longa, tahmila, doolab, as well as select vocal melodies and more contemporary and modern compositions.
A.: These videos better illustrate what kind of sound we hope to produce:
As you can notice, some of this music is Turkish (Garip), some Egyptian (Howwa Saheeh il Hawa Ghallab), and some of it is original compositions (Nawa, Fil Bal, my own compositions). We are trying to reinterpret both modern and older pieces in a way that has our distinct footprints. We value originality very much, and we stress the improvisational and spiritual nature of our musical tradition. As a result, our music is full of improvisations for the different instruments in our band.
We are trying to show our audiences that oriental instrumental music is beautiful, enjoyable, and full of originality and creativity. We are serious about the music we produce, but we want it to be entertaining as well as melodically and rhythmically rich.
C.: What about your artistic activity and about your future musical projects?
A.: We are currently performing in a number of live music venues in Amman. We are establishing our original identity in the Jordanian and regional music scene, and writing music that suits that identity. We are looking to record our music and issue an album in the near future. That recording will probably take place over the summer of 2014. In the meantime, we are happy to perform our music wherever and whenever we have a chance.
C.: Many thanks, Abdul, and good luck to Juthoor Ensemble! I hope we’ll be able to collaborate to prepare other articles, in the future, about your music and arabic music, in general.
Regards to everyone!