Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Abhiman Kaushal

Abhiman Kaushal - Photo by Daniel M Neuman
Abhiman Kaushal – Photo by Daniel M Neuman

Indian musician Abhiman Kaushal was initiated in the art of tabla by his father, R.M. Kaushal, who learned under the legendary Ustad Amir Hussain Khan. Abhiman also studied under Ustad Shiekh Dawood and Shri B. Nand Kumar. Abhiman is well known for his proficiency in the art of solo tabla as well as his sensitive accompaniment. His specialty lies in his rich tone and clarity.

Mr.Kaushal has accompanied most of the leading musicians of North Indian classical music including Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Rajeev Taranath and Ustad Rais Khan. Abhiman Kaushal has toured throughout the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and India.




Artist Profiles: Abhijit Banerjee

Abhijit Banerjee
Abhijit Banerjee

Indian musician Abhijit Banerjee started learning tabla at a very young age from Sri Tushar Kanti Bose, later from Sri Manik Pal and finally came under the tutelage of Pandit Gyan Prakash Ghosh. As a child he won many Music competitions of national repute. Besides tabla he had his training in vocal music and in violin.

Abhijit is now a regular performer at all the major music conferences all over India and overseas.Besides accompanying all the major artistes of India, both in North Indian and South Indian traditions, he has presented himself as a solo performer in many music conferences in India and Abroad. He has toured extensively all over the world and also associated himself with Jazz world and performed with some Jazz musicians and groups in New York. Abhijit has conducted many seminars on Indian Classical Music at Universities in U.S.A., Japan, England and Spain.

Abhijit has recorded many CDs with many reputed companies accompanying almost all the major artists in Indian Classical Music today; as well as many well-known Jazz musicians. He has also recorded a tabla solo CD, which is now available from Magnasound and Peshkar CD.

Abhijit has composed music for TV serials and short films of which The Trails– a film on Calcutta- got the National Award and is invited in the film festivals in Amsterdam and Munich.

Abhijit had the privilege of representing India in the World Festival of Music held in Granada , Spain.

In his academic life he is a graduate in English and post graduate in Journalism.


The Genius of Pandit Nikhil Banerjee (chhanda dhara)
Tarang (TIM Music)
Amjad Ali Khan
Phases (Times Music)
Teental (Peshkar)
Trur Rhythms of India (NA Classical)
Moonlight Whispers, with Larry Coryell (TIM Music)
Ami Chitrangada
Musical Moments of Rhythm (Magnasound)


Artist Profiles: Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim

Some still know him as Dollar Brand, others by his adopted moniker of Abdullah Ibrahim, which he began using in the late 1960s after his conversion to Islam. Either way, the piano styling of this remarkable South African musician have made their indelible mark in both the jazz and world genres for over half a century.

Ibrahim was born Adolphe Johannes Brand in Capetown in 1934, and quickly nicknamed ‘Dollar’. Learning the piano from the age of 7, he honed his early talent in the church. By the late 40?s he was already playing with local jazz big bands.

In the early 1960s alongside trumpeter Hugh Masekela, saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, he was a central figure in South Africa’s own progressive jazz movement which took its lead from the New York-based sounds being articulated at the time by John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk amongst others. His Jazz Epistles group, which included Masekela and Gwangwa, broke new musical ground, with a distinctive African influence added to the jazz improvisation.

He left South Africa in 1962 due to the worsening political situation and, in a now-legendary meeting, his new Dollar Brand Trio was ‘discovered’ by Duke Ellington while playing in Zurich, Switzerland club. Ellington quickly arranged a recording session with Reprise Records, and the Trio began playing the major American and European jazz festivals to enthusiastic acclaim. Brand/Ibrahim’s powerful tonal clusters, repeating African melodies, and creative improvisations were to become his trademarks.

He returned briefly to South Africa in the mid-70?s, but found the conditions so oppressive that he went back into exile in New York. He finally returned to live in Capetown in 1990.

His discography as both a leader and sideman lists well over a hundred album credits, including African Space Program, Ekaya, Tintinyana and Black Lightning. He composed the award-winning soundtrack for the 1988 French/African film Chocolat.


Jazz Epistles: Verse I (Gallo, 1960)

African Piano (ECM, 1969)

African Sketchbook (Enja, 1969)

Sangoma (Sackville, 1973)

Fats Duke and the Monk (Sackville, 1973)

African Portraits (Sackville, 1973)

Ancient Africa (Sackville, 1973)

Good News From Africa (Enja, 1973)

The Banyana: Children of Africa (Enja, 1976)

Streams of Consciousness (Piadrum Records, 1977)

Journey (Downtown Sound, 1977)

Autobiography (Planisphere, 1978)

Echoes from Africa (Enja, 1979)

The Pilgrim (Enja, 1979)

Africa: Tears and Laughter (Enja, 1979)

Black Lightning (Rareb, 1980)

Duke’s Memories (Black & Blue, 1981)

Dollar Brand at Montreux (Enja, 1981)

African Dawn (Enja, 1982)

Jazzbohne Berlin ’82 (Repertoire, 1982)

South African Sunshine (Plane, 1982)

Zimbabwe (Enja / Enja Records, 1983)

Dollar Brand (Enja, 1983)

Live at Sweet Basil, Vol. 1 (Ekapa Records, 1983)

Ekaya (Ekapa Records, 1983)

Water from an Ancient Well (Tiptoe, 1985)

South Africa (Enja, 1986)

Mindif (Enja, 1988)

African River (Enja, 1989)

Mantra Mode (Enja, 1991)

Desert Flowers (Enja, 1991)

Anthem for the New Nations (Denon Records, 1991)

Knysna Blue (Tiptoe, 1993)

No Fear, No Die (Tiptoe, 1994)

African Horns (Kaz, 1994)

Piano Solo (Pläne, 1995)

Yarona (Tiptoe, 1995)

South African Ambassador (Jazzfest, 1997)

Cape Town Flowers (Tiptoe, 1997)

The African Suite (Enja, 1999)

Jazz Piano Solos (Pläne, 2000)

Cape Town Revisited (Enja, 2000)

Ekapa Lodumo (EMI Music, 2001)

African Herbs (Rerooted, 2002)

Dukes Memories [Black & Blue] (Black & Blue, 2002)

African Symphony (Enja, 2002)

African Breeze (East Wind, 2002)

African Magic (Enja, 2003)

Recorded Live 1978 (Elephant, 2003)

African Horns (Camden, 2003)

African Suite (Justin Time, 2004)

Re: Brahim: Abdullah Ibrahim Remixed (Enja, 2005)

Arabic Jazz (2007)

Senzo (Sunnyside, 2008)

Bombella (Sunnyside, 2009)

Sotho Blue (Sunnyside, 2011)

Mukashi: Once Upon a Time (Sunnyside, 2013)

The Song Is My Story (Sunnyside, 2014)


Artist Profiles: Abdul Tee-Jay

Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Abdul Tee-Jay, an abbreviation for the Fula name Tejan-Jalloh from the Fouta Jalloh region in Guinea where his family originally came from, started playing guitar at the age of nine. His parents objected, so he practiced at a cousin’s home, spurning the western pop styles being adopted by his friends and followed local musical styles from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. Major early influences were Sekou Diabate from Guinea’s legendary Bembeya Jazz, Congo’s Doctor Nico and Freddie Green from Sierra Leone’s 60s stars Super Combo.

In 1974 he moved to West Virginia in the United States to study, playing there with a funk band called Spice. He moved to Great Britain in 1979. Throughout the early and mid 1980s, he played pan-African styles with a variety of bands, including African Connection and African Culture. Eventually, he decided to concentrate on his own music based on Sierra Leonean folklore, incorporating some of the prevailing local contemporary influences like soukous and highlife.; By the late 1980s his band Rokoto was being hailed as the best modern African outfit in the UK and their 1989 debut album Kanka Kuru was a big seller. They followed it with two more albums over the next decade, and Abdul worked with many major African names visiting the UK, often outshining the legends themselves.


Kanka Kuru (1994)

Rokoto Make Me Dance Dance (2002)

Palm Wine a Go-Go (Far Side Music, 2003)


Artist Profiles: Abdoulaye Diabate

Abdoulaye Diabate
Abdoulaye Diabate

Abdoulaye Diabate comes from the Segu region of Mali. He was born in 1952, son of Baba Diabate, traditional chief of the Diabate jelis of Segu, and of Assitan Dembele, one of the greatest Bambara singers.

At the age of eight he started singing in villages with his mother, all the while continuing his Koranic studies and attending French school. He eventually received a degree in accounting.

In 1975, at short notice, he replaced the singer of Koule Star of Koutiala, his adopted town (which he has never left), and so began a career that has produced several albums and led to his being named Best Malian Artist of 1994.

Abdoulaye Diabate’s style is an energetic mix of modern and traditional music, where you can find drums and electric guitars, but also traditional instruments such as bala and jembe.


Massadjourou (1988)

Kassikoun (Syllart 38765-2, 1989)

Namawou (Syllart SYL 83135, 1992)

Tabale (EMI Mali 83178, 1993)

Djiriyo (Stern’s STCD 1066, 1995)

Bende (Project Frikyiwa/PIAS)

Makan (Syllart SYLLAF 96173, 2000)

Samory (Cobalt 09354-2, 2002)


Artist Profiles: Abdelli


Abdelli is a Kabyl Berber, born on the 2nd of April 1958 at Behalil in the Great Kabyl (Algeria). Author, composer and interpreter, he mixes his native traditional music with modern elements. With an open mind, he does not hesitate in accepting other musical forms however distant they may be from his own.

Abdelli’s first professional performance took place in Dellys (Kabylia). He won several awards in Algeria for amateur singers and eventually moved to Belgium where he met producer Thierry Van Roy, who was so fascinated with Abdelli’s music that he spent two years exploring the roots of the Berbers’ musical tradition at the University of Algiers. In 1995 Van Roy produced the New Moon album and it came out on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. Abdelli’s career took off and he started to perform at major festivals in Europe, including WOMAD.

Abdelli’s lyrics express strong and poetic images of his culture which is threatened from all sides. He expresses himself essentially by symbols which are parts of his traditional culture. He tries to make known the ancient Berber culture which, by its tolerance and openness, is an example to follow in our troubled world.

Abdelli’s music is a reflection of the Kabyl culture open to the world and to its differences. His music is the meeting of the quarter of a tone with the tempered scale. Using traditional Algerian instruments such as the mandola, the bendir and the darbuka, he has collaborated with musicians from South America and the Ukraine, inviting in the usage of the cajón (Peru), the tormento, the quena (Chilean), and the bandura (Ukrainian) resulting in the creation of unique and colorful new rhythms.


New Moon (1995)
Au-delà de Gibraltar (2000)
Among Brothers (Real World, 2003)
Destiny (2011)


Artist Profiles: Abdelkader Saadoun

Abdelkader Saadoun
Abdelkader Saadoun

Abdelkader Saadoun comes from Khemis Miliana in Algeria, a few miles away from Wahran, the birth place of Rai. He started to play Rai music in his home country, accompanied by an accordion, guitar, kit drum, bass and percussion. An accomplished singer and musician, he led a band, which performed at many venues and festivals.

Rai originates from traditional Algerian music (Chaabi, Kabyl, and Chawia, pop) and also encompasses Jazz, Funk, Rock, Reggae, Fusion, and Blues. Based on strong rhythms, it is a very dynamic and danceable music. It has become the most popular music in North Africa and the Arab world; the music of today?s generation. Its popularity has quickly spread to neighboring countries: Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt and is now very popular in the Gulf States. Since France has a large Magrebian population, Rai music is now part of the French culture.

In 1988 Saadoun moved to the UK and in 1994 he formed a second Rai band in London. Saadoun’s current outfit is made up of nine musicians from different background using traditional instruments such as Mandole, Hajudj & North African percussion combined with European instruments including Brass, Keyboard, Piano and Bass guitar, Viola, Cello, Drums and Electric Guitars. He is a charismatic performer, able to enliven any audience with his infectious rhythms and dynamic stage personality.

Abdelkader has performed at major festivals within the UK and at other international events.





Artist Profiles: Abdel Wright

Abdel Wright -  Abdel Wright
Abdel Wright – Abdel Wright

With an incredible true-life story that rivals Jimmy Cliff’s fictional tale of Kingston gangsters in the classic reggae film Harder They Come, Abdel Wright has survived an upbringing in foster homes and five years in a Jamaican prison to create an entire album full of hope and redemption.

Wright’s own story is astonishing: put into government custody at the age of nine months, and moved from one orphanage to another until he ended up at the SOS Children’s Village in Montego Bay. The facility was founded by an Austrian soldier and funded in part by the legendary Johnny Cash, who owned a home nearby. Cash provided an early influence on the young Wright when he performed at a benefit concert at Rose Hall every Christmas for the students.

"All the kids, especially the musical ones, like me, were drawn to him. He played two mouth harps at once, which amazed me," Wright says of Cash.

At 12, Wright was given a guitar as a Christmas gift after a school superintendent spotted him eyeing it in the school’s office. He went on to teach himself the instrument-as well as piano and flute-by stealing in order to afford the instruction books. At the age of 18, he began to write songs.

Kicked out of the Village, Wright began committing crimes to support himself. Caught with a firearm, he was sentenced to eight years in jail. A policeman on the scene saved Wright’s life by refusing to allow the arresting officer to shoot him after discovering the gun. When the same cop ran into Wright years later after seeing him perform on TV, he told Wright it was the right decision: ‘"Now I know why I gave you a chance. You are here for a purpose,’ he told me."

"I was really involved with some bad company back then," says Wright. "Thinking that my gun was the only way to make a living."

In his cell, he wrote several songs, including "Quicksand" and "Ruffest Times," the latter a prayer of thanks for being allowed to survive his ordeal ("Jan will never give you more than you can bear"). It begins with the sound of fingers plucking guitar strings, recalling "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, admittedly one of his favorites.

Wright made the most of his prison stay ("It can be heaven or hell-it’s up to you," he says) by giving music lessons to the other inmates and leading the prison band. He earned enough trust to be allowed to teach and play music every day. While jailed, Wright also learned sign language and taught it to fellow prisoners, giving him a skill to put to use when he was ultimately released after serving a reduced sentence of five years.

Emerging from behind bars, Wright played tirelessly on the island’s club scene, doing countless karaoke shows while also performing his own songs and developing a following. "I was turned down for a recording contract by every leading producer in Jamaica," he says, supplementing his meager earnings by teaching guitar to aspiring musicians for $150 per hour, Jamaican (The equivalent of $2 U.S.).

With just $200 Jamaican in his pocket and practically homeless, Wright had a chance meeting with producer Brian Jobson, which led to Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart agreeing to executive-produce the album. Stewart then turned his buddy Bono on to Wright’s music, and the two invited Wright to perform with them at the 46664 Event, the Nelson Mandela AIDS concert, held in November 2003, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The all-star benefit, which also featured Beyonce, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bob Geldof, the Eurythmics, Johnny Clegg and Queen, was hosted by Nelson Mandela (and named after the number he wore in prison) to raise global awareness in the fight against AIDS. Wright performed an emotional "Loose We Now," which had many of the more than 40,000 fans holding their lighters aloft in tribute. Wright also was brought on-stage by Bono, joining The Edge, Dave Stewart and Youssou N’Dour to add a solo toast to "Long Walk to Freedom," the last song written by the Clash’s Joe Strummer before he died. The song appears on the soundtrack and DVD of the event and a studio version was recorded for an upcoming album project.

"When I first met Bono, I said, ‘Nice to meet you, big man,’" says Wright. "And he answered me, ‘No, you’re the big man. An angel brought you here to me.’ Growing up with all these rock stars, then meeting, playing and singing with them, was unbelievable, a dream come true."

After the Mandela AIDS benefit, Wright returned to Jamaica and entered an Ocho Rios studio to finish recording his debut album with Jobson, which Stewart and Bono then played for Interscope chief Jimmy Lovine, who immediately agreed to release the record.

With an acoustic guitar and a song-based approach, Wright flies in the face of reggae’s current dancehall fascination and hip-hop obsession with sex, drugs and materialism. In politically-charged songs like "Quicksand," "Human Behavior," "Loose We Now" and "Dust Under Carpet," Wright sings about relevant global issues: government oppression, the high cost of health care, the lack of suitable housing and education, poverty and the hypocrisy of the political and religious establishments.

"Quicksand," with its checklist of society’s ills, "Human Behavior," featuring a twangy pedal steel guitar and harp, and the Dylan-styled protest anthem "Loose We Now" are steeped in Jamaica’s traditional political unrest, though the themes are broad enough to provide a global message. "Paul Bogle" tells of an actual 19th century historical martyr who is a Jamaican national hero, hanged by the British for his outspoken criticism of the government. Wright invokes a soaring falsetto and a poignant violin while Babylon bums in "Dust Under Carpet," aiming his ire at hypocritical politicians who are "clean on the outside… dirty on the inside."

"The themes are worldwide, even though it all starts with Jamaican culture," explains Wright. "But it applies everywhere there are police forces using violence to keep society in shackles. There are people with an inability to pay the rent, living in the gutter, every where… even in America, one of the richest countries in the world."

In addition to its political charge, Wright’s debut is also autobiographical. In "Issues," he sings about his troubled upbringing, noting his decision to spend the few dollars he had left at one point on strings for his guitar even though he was practically starving. "My Decision" is a playful tune about "searching the whole, wide world.. .for a good girl."

"I don’t care how much times I have to fly, but you have to maintain the roots," he says about commuting to America for his career. "Because it’s from those roots that the songs come… from my personal suffering, my experiences on the island. I want to keep as many roots as possible."

"People are tired of listening to priests, prime ministers and politicians," he says of the musician’s role in bringing attention to society’s ills. "Music can have a great effect. If we use our credibility and spread our message, it can be accepted by a lot of people. We can be the answer, which is why we need to make sure what we’re inputting to people can make a positive change."

"I want to play my music for people everywhere," he says. "Send me to Greenland with the Eskimos in their igloos, and I’ll play for them. I want to keep spreading the word until I drop dead."


Artist Profiles: Abdel Karim Ensemble

Abdel Karim Ensemble
Abdel Karim Ensemble

Formed by professional musicians from several countries (Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Spain) and under the direction of Abdel Karim, this ensemble has the purpose of studying and popularizing Arabic classical music.

Its repertory includes music from throughout the Middle East, from Turkey to Egypt, ranging from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Abdel Karim Ensemble also performs Andalusian Arabic music, a genre that originated in Al-Andalus, Islamic medieval Spain, where it was cultivated as a poetic-musical form known as Muwashaha.

Andalusian Arabic music has been preserved not only in the Magreb (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya) under the name of Andalusian Music, Maluf, etc, but ratherit has had great influence in the countries of the Middle East such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, etc.In these countries, Andalusian music has been cultivated with great zeal and without hardly changes to the tradition of the Muwashaha, conforming the nucleus of the Arab-Andalusian Music of the East, called this way in memory of its origin.

This Eastern Arabic cultured music tradition must be distinguished from the one preserved in the Magreb by its musical, rhythmic and literary differences.This repertoire can be regarded as early music and classical music, born in parallel with the Baroque and classicism of the Western musical tradition. Its language is, therefore, of an enormous wealth, unlike Andalusian music, which uses scales that are very close to western music.

One can point out the use of the quarter tones, perfectly written within a very complex modal system called Maqam, as well as subtle rhythmic formulas called wazn, of difficulty that parallels its beauty.

The instruments used have been around for centuries in Arab countries: the Nay (Arab reed flute), the Kanun (Arab zither), the ´Ud (Arab lute) and the percussion characteristic of this music: Darbuka, Bendir and Riqq, presided over everything for the melodious voice of the Mughanni (singer) that weaves with skill the feeling of the music with the refined beauty of the poetry.

At the end of the 19th century European bowed instruments began to be adopted. First it was the violin and then the cello and double bass, performed with a different, perfectly coordinated with the traditional instruments.

Although he started from a solid classical training, soon he went searching for music rooted in the past, such as music from the Middle Age, the Renaissance, the Baroque period or Arab Classical Music, learning from Moroccan masters in Tangier and TetuanDamascus (Syria), Spain, Italy, etc., and performed these styles in ensembles such as “The Earth is Flat” (Medieval Music), “Neocantes” (Renaissance) “Lúdicus Consort and Divertimento Musicale” (Baroque) and Al-Baraka (Traditional Music of the Middle East and The Magreb).

Abdel Karim has learned the Maqam (Mode), Wazn (Arabic rhythmic patterns), the technique and interpretation of the Nay with the noted specialist in Middle Eastern music Noureddin Acha, in Tangier. He has also received classes from Ziyad Qadi Amin, (Ensemble Al-Kindi) considered the best nayati (nay player) of Syria.At the moment he is deepening the knowledge of this fascinating art with diverse Arabic music specialists. He was director and professor of the Municipal Classroom ofMusic of Aracena, 1992-96 in the subjects of transversal flute and recorder flute.Abdel Karim was the founder and director of the Festival of Ancient Music of Aracena (Huelva) 1994 to 1998, as well as coordinator of the First Festival ofAncient Music of Ubeda and Baeza.



Artist Profiles: Abdel Gadir Salim

Abdel Gadir Salim
Abdel Gadir Salim

Abdel Gadir Salim is among the most significant and influential singers Sudan has produced. He first introduced the rhythms and melodies of the western province of Kordofan into the national music, and then played a key role in bringing Sudanese music in general to the world. Unlike many of his great contemporaries, Salim still lives in Sudan, where he is viewed as a national icon. He has traveled the world extensively with his group, and in 2005 made history and proved himself a truly contemporary player when he collaborated with former child soldier and southern Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal on the groundbreaking CD Ceasefire.

Salim was born in the mid-50s in Dilling, in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan’s western province of Kordofan. Salim recalls his youth in Kordofan as a broad musical education, “a mix of tribes singing all night.” Nuba tribes, as well as various peoples of Kordofan and Darfur to the west “lived together in friendship like one tribe.” The dance rhythms Salim heard as a boy, “at midnight,” like the cantering merdoum, were often tied to the natural word, imitating for example the gait of camels and horses, and all of this formed the core of a young man?s musical sensibility. He came to Khartoum in 1970 as a teacher, but soon formed his group, the All Stars, and began performing modern, urban adaptations of the sounds he had loved since boyhood.

Salim befriended Sudan’s greatest singer Mohammed Wardi, and studied at the Institute of Music and Drama. “The first song I played,” he recalls, “was Alur Halabi in 1971. It’s about the first lorry that came to Dilling. It says that I am very glad the first lorry has come to my village, but also I am sad because this lorry has taken my lover from this village. I want this lorry to be broken because it has taken my lover.” When Salim took old songs like this one and arranged them for his group, with saxophone, keyboard and electric guitar joining oud, violin, and traditional percussion, he made his mark as a force in modern Sudanese music. His band combined the aesthetics of an orchestra, a traditional ensemble, and a jazz combo, and their sound became standard fare at wedding celebrations. Salim’s music was so deeply loved by the public that his group continued to perform even during the harsh period of the 1990s when Sudanese artists suffered under a regime of strict, Islamist government.

In 1994, Salim was a victim in a knife attack in Omdurman, which took the life of famed singer Khogali Osman. The assault reflected the fiercely anti-cultural environment that followed the 1989 coup, but Salim, always a figure above politics, dismissed it as the act of a crazy man, and carried right on with his work.

Salim is a statuesque presence and a warm, charismatic performer. As such, an ideal ambassador to the world for Sudanese music. He has released some of the best known Sudanese recordings, notably The Merdoum Kings Sing Songs of Love (1991), and Khartoum Blues (1999).

Abdel Gadir Salim -  Khartoum Blues
Abdel Gadir Salim – Khartoum Blues

In 2005, he surprised fans everywhere with his collaboration with rapper Emmanuel Jal, who had survived the experience of child warfare in a horrific civil war between north and south. Ceasefire straddles cultural, generational, stylistic, ethnic, religious and political divides, and stands as a powerful symbol of collaboration and unity in a deeply divided nation.