AZALAI Sziget – Budapest (Hungary). 5-11 August 2013.

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AZALAI Sfinks – Boechout (Belgium). 26-28 July 2013.

23 to 27 July, AZALAI stopped in Antwerp for the Festival Sfinks. New musical encounters enriched once more the European caravan on African sounds: Sarah van Impe (Belgium)and Ebou Gaye Mada (Gambia), Kalifa Kone (Mali) – percussions, Satindra Kalpoe (Holland)- drums, Maxim Njava (Madagascar) – basse, Stefaan Blanke (Belgium) – trombone, Eric Morel (Belgium) – sax, Esinam Dogbatse (Ghana) – flute, Marc Tuinstra (Holland) – guitar, Minyeshu (Etiopia) – voice. Four intense days of rehearsal, many rhymes, songs, sounds, musical languages creating a common world, than a concert on the 27th, great multi-cultural feast full of energy that was transmitted to the audience through one hour of music and celebration. The AZALAI atlas is almost complete, see you at the last step at Sziget in August…


AZALAI Exit Festival – Novi Sad (Serbie). 9-14 July 2013.

Having left Florence last week, the AZALAI caravan followed its way to Serbia, where it received a warm welcome by the Exit Festival.

The rehearsals took place in the Novi Sad Academy of Music. A young Serbian string quartet (Antonija Barna and Ena Petković violins, Dina Milivojev viola and Ana Ristić cello) integrated the ensemble formed by Said Tichiti (Morocco, guembri and voice), Kandia Kora (Guinea, kora and voice), Minyeshu (Etiopia, voice), Hilaire Penda (Cameroon, bass), Dimitri Grechi Espinoza (Italy, sax), PeeWee Durante (Italy, keyboards) and Istvan Cik (Serbia, drums).During the festival, the project was welcomed in a unique location in Novi Sad fortress park : a confortable tent with a fantastic view on the Danube. Enveloped in this charming atmosphere, the musicians jammed all nights in front of an eclectic audience, that eventually joined them to sing, dance and play the AZALAI tunes. The last festival night, the AZALAI concert took place on the Raggae Stage. The final song, called AZALAI, expressed the highest level of emotion and sharing. It is a collective composition made during the residency, were every musician speaks about the caravan according to his musical language and feelings. The concert ended with fantastic fireworks and the wish of musicians, audience and organizers to meet again soon and continue to walk together.

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The fourth edition of the Festival au Désert/Presenze d’Africa was a special one, as its twin festival in Mali could not take place in reason of the conflict that stroke the region since 2012. In this delicate context the AZALAI musical exchange between Tuareg, African and European musicians took an even stronger meaning on the Florence stage, underlined by the presence of a delegation from the festival in Timbuktu. The young Tuareg band Tadalat from Northern Mali, jammed with young musicians from Italy, France, La Reunion. Many France based African musicians created a new sound with their Italian guests Dimitri Grechi Espinosa (sax), Silvia Bolognesi (double bass) and Pasquale Mirra (vibraphone): guitarist Moh! Kouyate from Guinea, bassist Hilaire Penda from Cameroon, the trio of poli-instrumentist Aziz Samahoui from Morocco-Senegal, balafonist Lansine Kouyate from Mali. French singer Piers Faccini and his drummer Simone Prattico jammed with them and enjoyed playing a more intimate set with black-american drummer Hamid Drake. On Saturday night, Italian trumpet Roy Paci gave an ulterior groove to a session that formed the quintessential symbol of the AZALAI spirit.

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AZALAI Amsterdam took off at 2nd of june with musicians who have their roots in Holland, Ethiopia, Gambia, Mali, France, Surinam and Belgium. From the first moment on it clicked magically, creating an instant groove with a mix of afro, funk and ethiopian rock. Lead singer MINYESHU’s enchanting vocals and explosive dance were fired up by the salvos, yells and cheers of percussionist EBOU GAYA MADA. Catchy yet harmonically and rhythmically advanced compositions of MARK TUINSTRA were given depth by ALY KEITA’s rich and virtuoso balofon sounds, while the DAVID NEERMAN’s vibraphone added layers of psychedelic effects. In a workshop their sound was wedded to Bombino’s desert guitar sound, and in thursday night they gave a concert at the MELKWEG, after Bombino had already given a masterclass to guitar students of the Amsterdam conservatory. The finale was on Sunday, a performance at the Roots Amsterdam Open Air festival. Sun finally broke over Amsterdam, and the band drew a big crowd with an amazingly lively and inspired performance. Several bookers showed interested in the band, and the band is looking for ways to perform more often together as the spark was very special. For now, a large part of the band will continue their sessions at the Belgium SFINX festival, where they will perform the 27th of july.



Combining the musical backgrounds and sounds of both local and international musicians, such as Moh! Kouyate from Guinea, Carlou D from Senegal, Wilfred Boni from Benin, Jérôme Li-Thiao-Te from La Réunion, Pasquale Mirra and Dimitri Grechi Espinoza from Italy and the young talent Thibault Dille from Belgium, the Azalai caravan enchanted the audience of Festival Wazemmes l’Accordeon with a multi-cultural musical feast of melodies, beats and rhythms.
After four days of intense rehearsals, on 17 May the band played in the first part of Malian star Salif Keita concert at the Zenith in Lille in front of 2000 enthusiastic people. Two days after, AZALAI was on stage in the heart of Wazemmes for a vibrant performance crossing Senegalese and Mandingue beat, Ivorian groove, Benin rhythm, Réunion funk, Madagascar dance in a whole musical happening mapping some of the best musical expressions of the African continent. The concert was followed by the band Touré Kouda, the pioneer of African music in Europe since the ’80. Having charged new sounds and emotions in Lille, the AZALAI caravan is now moving toward Italy, the Netherlands, Serbia, Belgium and Hungary. Stay tuned for more info about the next steps!

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«Desert Spirit» at Sziget Festival.
Music, meetings, tea ceremonies, exhibitions, jam sessions.

The caravan stopped in Budapest from August 8 to 12 August, 2012. At the Sziget Festival a special venue, called « Desert Spirit », was dedicated to Tuareg cultures and ways of life, in collaboration with the Festival au Désert from Timbuktu. The central nucleus of the musicians who worked in Florence two weeks before ( met for another series of laboratories with the participation of Hungarian and Hungary based musicians proposed by Sziget. The venue was hosted under a magnificent Berber tent, where the participants in the project could rehearse every morning. Then the tent was open to the public until night, becoming a sort of meeting space where the festival people could assist and participate to the jam sessions, drink Tuareg tea, participate in the debates and see photos and films about Tuareg music and culture. The final concert was hosted on the Afro-Latin Stage on the evening of the 11th with a great sound and a vibrant energy on stage. An energy and a sound that will be carried through the next steps in 2013.

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Music, meetings, film projections, exhibition and initiatives about knowledge and dialogue between cultures

The caravan’s first stop-over has been in Florence from July 19 to 21, 2012, involving among others the Mali musician Samba Touré, the Tuareg Tartit group, Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger who has been working for years on highly personalized syntheses with African music and musicians, classical bass player Alberto Bocini, singer-songwriter Alessandro Mannarino and the jazz musicians Pasquale Mirra, Dimitri Grechi Espinoza and Emanuele Parrini. They worked together on the first basic production, from which the virtuous circle of all European partners and their geo-social and cultural reference areas will develop, starting from the the XX edition of the Sziget Festival of Budapest from August 8 to 12, 2012. In the dedicated venue set up there, among the photo exhibition, Tuareg craftsmanship and public talks, the central nucleus of the musicians who worked for the encounter and for the creations of the festival in Florence will lead on August8, 9 and 10, a series of laboratories with the participation of the musicians proposed by Sziget, Hungarians and/or African residents in Hungary. Each laboratory session will end with an hour of open rehearsals with the prospect of a final jam-session to conclude the closing concert on the evening of the 11th.

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