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A Jamaican in Cairo EP

September 17, 2010

There’s two things that we like here in the Secret Archives – Arabic music and Jamaican music. Oh, yeah, bigtime on both counts. So, when we hear about a release called A Jamaican in Cairo our reaction is like Pavlov’s legendary hound at the sniff of some Pedigree Chum. Gotta check this out!

A Jamaican in Cairo

The band, Diaspora, has four members, Luca Gatti, Stephane René, Baheeg Ramzy Mikhail and Amina Annabi, all well respected musicians in their own fields.

Italian born Luca Gatti is the founding member of Diaspora. Over the years he has worked with such artists as General Levy, Gaudi and Asian Dub Foundation. French composer/musician Stephane René specialises in traditional stringed instruments and his performances on oud, saz, guitar and percussion are a major contribution to this project. Baheeg Ramzy Mikhail contributes vocals and violin as well as a wealth of knowledge and expertise gained through a long and prolific career. Known as ‘the master of the Maqam’ (the Arabic scale system) he has worked with many of the great figures in Arabic music, including the much celebrated singer and composer the late Mohammed Abdel Wahab and the legendary Om Kalthoum. Amina Annabi is a well known French Tunisian singer who fuses her traditional Arab roots with modern Western styles.

In 2006 Diaspora was commissioned by the English National Opera to co-compose and arrange the score for the opera Gaddafi: A living myth in collaboration with Asian Dub Foundation. It was during this time that the beginnings of A Jamaican in Cairo took shape.

Well, a four track EP is here! A Jamaican in Cairo EP features four tracks from the forthcoming album, which I believe will be available in October:

  1. A Jamaican in Cairo
  2. Nile (featuring Amina Annabi)
  3. Diaspora (featuring Raiz)
  4. Running for Cover (featuring Bob Andy)

Running for Cover features veteran of the Jamaican reggae scene Bob Andy. As one of Studio One‘s leading lights, he worked closely with Jackie Mittoo on many of the label’s seminal sounds. Since then he has been ceaselessly composing, recording and performing and remains a household name who has truly earned his place in the firmament of reggae stars. Talented vocalist Raiz adds his instantly recognisable voice to the title track Diaspora. As the ex front-man of Italian cult band Almamegretta he is a well established artist who has also featured in the work of many other high profile artists, including recordings with our dub hero Bill Laswell, Leftfield (Rhythm and Stealth) and Massive Attack (Karmacoma).

So – what does it sound like? Rootsical rather than dubwise but tastefully played, with great vocals and a nice clean production. It grooves along sweetly with a delicious Eastern feel permeating the riddims. Here’s a little taster on the SoundCloud website:

Diaspora “A jamaican in Cairo” E.P. by greenqueenmusic

Support great music. Buy the EP here:

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