Three men had the habit of jamming together at a Cairo home. One of them let the strings of the oud dance, the other made the guitar resound, the third added rhythm through the tabla. One day they decided to share their music with the outside world. The rest is history. On Tuesday 17 February 2015, the Mazaj trio will have their debut concert at the Bridges Cultural Center in Zamalek.
Mazaj is the common denominator of Fadi Taiba, Ahmed Sayed, and Toma El Sarout. As their names might tell, they carry various international backgrounds. And this is what strengthens them, Fadi explains. “We exchange our experiences and are unified by music. Our group is only two months old, but together we manage to create the perfect mood,” he describes the origin of the band name.
Fadi Taiba came up with the idea to start the band. He is a Syrian autodidact oud player who came to Cairo with one destination: Bayt Al-Oud. At this Batneya-located, world renowned oud school he worked on his technique under the guidance of oud instructor Naseer Shamma. Ever since, he has been working on his music career by teaching oud to others and participating in numerous music groups.
Together with Ahmed Sayed, an Egyptian guitarist, and Toma El Sarout, a German-Lebanese tabla player, Fadi will bring well-known Middle Eastern tunes and introduce new, self-composed songs to the Bridges stage. “We want to play famous Egyptian, Shami, and Turkish music in our own way. In addition to our own melodies, we will reinvent the Turkish classic Harmandalı, and glorious songs of Sheikh Imam, Sayed Darwish, and Riad El Sonbaty,” Fadi fast-forwards to Mazaj’s first concert.
“Music has a deep influence on your mood. It can make you feel happy or forces you to think. We hope that our songs will influence our audience’s state of mind in several ways,” the Syrian oud player sets out. The Mazaj trio made the striking decision of performing purely instrumentally. “I’m convinced that music without lyrics expresses more than songs with text. It displays a wider range of feelings and leaves more space for interpretation to the listener. It is more open than words, which are often too direct,” Fadi has to say about this conscious choice.
Mazaj aims, amongst others, to fill a void by reintroducing Shami music to Egypt. Next to having more concerts within and outside of Egypt’s borders in the future, the group hopes to collaborate with other musicians in order to add the tones of the piano, cello or bass to their harmonies.
Bridges Cultural Center aims be a place where people from many backgrounds are given an opportunity to learn about each other through art, music, and cultural and educational activities. You can find the Center at 5, Michel Lutfallah Street, Zamalek, Cairo.