Already renowned in
his homeland, before his passing in 2001 Ali Hassan Kuban performed
at WOMAD, Montreal Jazz Festival and Central Park's Summerstage, so
it's not that the Egyptian musician's music has gone unheard—but
it's about to get the reissue treatment that could give a lot more
people a chance to check it out.
Afropop is pleased to present the first single released from Piranha Records' reissue and remaster of Kuban's 1988 record From Nubia to Cairo.
The track gives a pretty good idea of what's in store on the album: winding melodies over Western beats—a potent blend of analog Egyptian music with American jazz and pop.
Kuban's hometown in Upper Egypt was drowned by the construction of the Aswan Dam, so he and his family moved to Cairo. Working as an apprentice tailor in the city, Kuban took quickly and intuitively to the clarinet and bagpipes, and learned the melodies of black Egypt. He became one of the country's most popular wedding musicians until he came across a group of Harlem jazz musicians playing outside the Gezira Sporting Club.
His music took a turn for the new, and his audience grew. The recordings of his original work broke him internationally. The reissues, made from the original tapes, hold the promise to introduce him to another generation.