Ali Hassan Kuban was an innovator in Nubian music—melding the music of southern Egypt to Western big band and the popular forms in Cairo of the day, and creating something that still sounds original and vibrant today, as Piranha Records’s new reissue of his 1980 record From Nubia to Cairo attests.
Hassan Kuban passed away in 2001, but English-speaking audiences can still hear from the man himself in a newly uploaded interview. Recorded in Berlin in 1989, Hassan Kuban talks about his experience of moving to Cairo as a child and realizing his dream of becoming a musician. He explains what comprises Nubian music. When he talks about his stint as a bandleader, you get the impression that he’s a pretty demanding guy—at one point he claims musicians in his big band weren’t allowed to go outside. But hey, gotta maintain that aura somehow.
Once you’ve whetted your appetite, check out From Nubia to Cairo. Like all good big bands, it positively swings.