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Tunisian love lands in Kenya

08 September 2014, 18:17 Eugene Odanga

Nairobi - If you are looking for a deep musical experience fusing the best of African music with dance, techno, Jazz and Drum and Bass, then the Smadj event is the place you need to be.

Bringing the best from his Tunisian roots, fuse with some of the biggest genre’s of music in the world,  Jean-Pierre Smadja (Smadj) is set to rock Nairobi on September 17 at the Alliance Francaise in Nairobi.

Smadj has been skillfully fusing oud music to diverse genres including jazz, electronic groove, saxophone, drum and bass for over 15 years. With six albums to his credit, Smadj has an extraordinary touch for blending electronic and acoustic sounds to create music rich in oriental, North African and jazz rhythms.

Smadj is on an East African tour accompanied by saxophonist Denis Guivarch and singers Sofiane Saidi (Franco-Algerian rai musician with a charming voice) and MC Laudi (South African hip hop artist with a groovy timbre).

Mixing tradition and technology, the group promises scintillating concert that will have the public on the dance floor with a diverse palette of music styles.

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In 2002 and 2003, Smadj and the Algerian oud player, Mehdi Haddab, were twice runner-up in the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards for their single Wild Serenade from the album DuOud, for the Best Newcomer and the Boundary Crossing categories respectively. DuOud combine their North African
heritage with the latest in Western technology. Prior to this recognition, Smadj was already recognized for his debut album Equilibrist, blending Eastern melodies and electronic beats, which earned him a 4th place on the European World Music charts in 2000.

Jean-Pierre Smadj grew up listening to traditional Arab musicians like Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum and Iraqi oud player Munir Bashir. He studied at a jazz school in Paris and after five years of study he started playing in clubs around the city. Smadj only started playing the oud until the age of 30. As
the Parisian dance music scene grew, Smadj with a background in studio sound engineering, began experimenting with different sounds and styles of dance music, blending Oriental, Latin, North African and jazz with dance beats.

Following the success of DuOud that culminated in a two-year long world tour, Smadj joined master Turkish percussionist, Burhan Öçal producing an album which was a huge success in Turkey and is considered a classic now. In 2005, Smadj released the album ‘Take is and Drive’ featuring the Malian star Rokia Traore, the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the Indian singer-guitarist Amit Chatterjee. In same year, he released ‘Sakkat’ with Mehdi Haddab, which was recorded in Yemen with Yemeni traditional musicians. His latest album ‘Fuck the Dj’ released in 2012 is an ode to dance music with disco, dubstep, oriental, funky electro all on the menu. The title is a sarcastic swipe at the ever increasing dominance of DJs over live bands on dance floors.

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He is accompanied on this tour by the Franco-Algerian singer, Sofiane Saidi who was born in the birthplace of Raï Music, the city of Sidi Bel Abbès in Algeria). Sofiane can be credited as the creator of oriental glam music. Sofiane works between Brest, Algeria, London and Paris and has collaborated with the Belgian songbird Natacha Atlas and the legendary Algerian rai group Raina Rai. Sofiane is currently working on his ablum 'El Morjane', Arabic for 'The Coral,’ a metaphor for the rarest and most precious things in life. Also on stage will be MC Laudi, a South Africa DJ who lives in London and regularly performs at the London Afro nights. Over the years, MC Laudi has developed his signature sound mixing tropical rhythms, hip hop and electro. He has collaborated with some of the best artists around the world like Damon Albarn (co-founder, vocalist and principal songwriter of virtual band Gorillaz) and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers (an American funk rock band).

Together with the French saxophonist Denis Guivarch, the quartet promise a unique concert, bringing for the first time to Kenya, live on stage, a blend Arabic, Afro, Electro, Hip Hop and dance music.

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