Thursday, February 24, 2005

 

Cairo, February 24th, 20005

Wow – this place is really blowing my mind.

First of all, in the morning we had a meeting with the head of the AUC
(American University in Cairo) music department.  What a nice guy –
he’s a pianist and composer.  He kindof reminded me of an Egyptian
Gershwin.

As unbelievable as it seems, he’s had a hard time finding someone to
teach dumbek!  He said that there’s a lot of amazing players here but
that they can’t really teach in English.  He organized a master class
for me to teach.  He’s making posters a fliers and really advertising
it.

He was very interested in my notation system and he fipped out when we
showed him a video of our Avenue B concert.

He said that he wants to arrange for me to come next year for 8 weeks
and teach a course in middle eastern drumming!  Those gigs are sweet,
cause you make an American salary, but your living expenses are next to
nothing!  I told him, lets make it for the winter – the weather here is
just perfect.

Also we hung out on Muhammed Ali street and jammed with some amazing
dumbek players!  It was a blast.

We went to this store that has the nicest dumbeks in Egypt.  They are
$400 each, but GORGEOUS – I’ve never seen a nicer dumbek.  Anyway, I
was playing one and the owner of the store, Hassan Ali Amediit rushed
to the phone and dialed a number and held it up to me as I played.
Then we handed me the phone and it turns out it was Misserli Ahhmed’s
wife Sabine!  I’ve heard about her that she’s a really good drummer!
She said “was that you playing?  I want to meet you!”  So she’s coming
over today or tomorrow.  By the way for those of you who don’t know,
Misserli Ahmed is the number one dumbek player in Turkey!  She sounds
very cool and classy.  She’s part Egyptian, part Syrian and part
Turkish.

Then we went to Saiids and I had an AMAZING rabbaba lesson.  Saiid came
downstairs in the middle of the lesson with a woman in a higab (head
scarf) who he said was one of the greatest dancers in Egypt  Fikry and
I played the rabbaba, Saiiid played the dumbek and this woman danced –
WOW , what a hafla!  The dancer was so different from American dancers.
 She was something else - very subtle and the dancing was all about the
music.


Fikry, my AWESOME Rabba Teacher

Today we’re having a riq lesson and we’re supposed to meet this guy
who’s the other great tabla player here besides Saiid – his name is
Henkish.

The people here are the most charming and hospitable of any country
I’ve been to.  We hang out in Saiiids studio and people are constantly
bringing us tea, cofffe, fruit juices, ect.  And if we stay late enough
at the Studio at around 3 am, Saiid  orders these Egyptian pizza- like
things called ‘fatiras” – filo dough filled with all kinds of things.
It reminds me off college kids getting the munchies and ordering pizza
in the middle of the night.  Last night after the fatiras he took out
this bottle and went around the room putting sandal wood oil on
everyone – now everything I have smells of it.

Last night Saiiid and I had a meeting about the concert.  We decided
that we will play a few numbers together, I’ll play some one my Raquy
and the Cavemen material with Shlum and the girls, and he’ll do
something with that kid Hummus and he’ll also do his famous drum solo
on his cheeks (He plays his cheeks like a drum into the microphone and
gets AMAZING sounds!). We’ll do like an hour show – I think it will be
very nice.  I asked about having the girls dance and he said “NO WAY”.
It would have been nice for the girls to dance, but they’ll still get a
chance to drum with us.

Gotta go – its 3:00pm – time for breakfast!

Comments:
Hey Erda (did I get it right)?

So excited hearing all the wonderful things that you all are experiencing. I'd love to go with you next year if the opportunity arises. I've heard that everyone who returns from Egypt brings a bit of it home with them (there's a glow). Hugs, Tiye
 
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