The Nile Project – Aswan (2013)
The Nile Project is an exciting gathering of outstanding musicians from the Nile River region in East Africa. Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis is the co-founder and executive director of the project. The other co-founder is Ethiopian artist Meklit Hadero. The musical director is bassist and composer Miles Jay.
East African music is under-represented in the West so recordings like Aswan are a great opportunity to discover the fabulous talent in countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda.
The live meeting of master instrumentalists and vocalists is not a pan-African jam session. Instead, the majority of the pieces have a clear structure, bringing together the beauty of Egyptian Arabic and Nubian sounds, Ethiopian music and the rhythms, instruments and melodies of Sub-Saharan East Africa.
Highlights include ‘Aysh’ composed by Egypt’s Hazim Shaheen, where the listener is treated to an unexpected combination of musical instruments and influences; the Ethio-jazz fueled ‘St. Jared of Axum’ composed by Ethiopian saxophonist Jorgan Mesfin; the festive ‘Kullina Wahed’ written by South Sudanese artist Nyrauach Jal; and the improvisatory crowd pleaser ‘Ya Ganouby’ by Dina El Wedidi.
The impressive lineup on the album includes Nubian percussionist and vocalist Adel Mekha (Egypt); bassist Ahmed Omar (Egypt); masankop (Sudanese lyre) player and vocalist Ahmed Said Abuamna (Sudan); violinist Alfred Gamil (Egypt); vocalist Alsarah (Sudan); percussionist Asrat Ayalew (Ethiopia); vocalist Dina El Wedidi (Egypt); masinko (bowed lute) player Endris Hassen (Ethiopia); percussionist Hany Bedair (Egypt); our player Hazem Shahin (Egypt); saxophonist Jorga Mesfin (Ethiopia); percussionist Lawrence Okello (Uganda); vocalist Meklit Hadero (Ethiopia); vocalist Mekuanent Melese (Ethiopia); ney player Mohamed Fouda (Egypt); adungu (Uganda bow harp) performer and percussionist Michael Bazibu (Uganda); simsimiyya (ancient lyre) player Mohsen El Ashry (Egypt); and vocalist Nyaruach Jal (South Sudan).
The Nile Project artists will be touring the United States in 2015. The lineup includes many of the musicians that appeared on the album, but there are new musicians added to the ensemble.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.