For the last few months, the only "local" music I've listened to or heard were of the Lebanese Music Video variety, which at its best is comparable to an "Item Number" and at its worst is worse than those Punjabi videos on ETC.
Fortunately this entire imagery associated with local music has been completely replaced by an infinitely superior quality and variety of music. Flamenca Cairo, a group of nine instrumentalists and a vocalist perfomed to a full house at the El Sawy Cultural Center last Friday.
The group was founded by Wael Khedr (who is also the Lead Guitar/Guitar Soloist) in 2003 with traditional Flamenco music and some Latin themes. It was slowly developed to have more oriental flavor with the addition of some oriental instruments. Now, Flamenca has several unique pieces of music where this marriage between flamenco and oriental music is clearly evident.
Amr Darwish plays a mean Electric Violin. The jugalbandis between him and Wael were outstanding.
Raaft Farahat plays an instrument called the Kawla which is an Arabic Flute.
Yamen Abdallah plays the Qanon which sounds like a Santoor - reminiscent of water trickling down a slow waterfall.
Omar El Toudy on Keyboards looked so much like those Senior Masterjis who play the keyboards in desi orchestras. Sameh Ismael and Sherif Kamal are the percussionists, who play a wide variety of instruments some familiar, some not so familiar and some completely tangential like the stool that Sherif was sitting on. Saief Eldawla on the Drums and Moustafa Geuida on Base Guitar completed the instrumental part of the ensemble.
Ahmed Samir intermittently provided vocals to the instrumental pieces. What a voice! Powerful and controlled. Although I could barely understand a word of what he was singing, I could feel the strong emotions and sentiments behind them.
The whole ensemble just blended together so beautifully. It has been a long time since any music has actually touched me. Flamenca's music was moving, it actually spoke to every member of the audience. So the repeated requests for an encore and the standing ovation that followed at the end was no suprise at all.
You can dowload and listen to some of their music on their site. http://www.flamencacairo.com/