Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band - Egyptian Jazz
Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Salah Ragab was a central figure in the history of jazz in Egypt. A sometime collaborator with Sun Ra, Ragab founded the Cairo Jazz Band in 1968, the same year that he became the head of the Egyptian Military Music Department. The Cairo Jazz Band was Egypt's first big band, mixing American jazz with North African music, combining jazz instrumentation and musical style with indigenous melodies and instruments, like the nay (bamboo flute) and the baza (ramadan drum). Such musical cross-fertilization was not unusual in itself; American musicians from Sun Ra to Yusef Lateef had long been fascinated by the music of Islam and North Africa, incorporating both the instruments and musical forms of the Fertile Crescent into their work. But Salah Ragab’s music presents a topsy-turvied perspective, a view from the other side of the musical equation of West meets Middle East. More importantly, however, The Cairo Jazz Band seriously swings...