Hijaz - Biography
In the 21st century, jazz remains by far the most flexible, progressive and elusive musical genre, as proves a band of international make-up such as Hijaz. Hijaz is the name of an Arabic musical motif, but the band’s name also holds a clear reference to jazz.
Hijaz is a sextet that combines elements of world music with jazz. The music of the group is based on the dialogue between Tunesian oud player Moufadhel Adhoum and pianist Niko Deman and started with the release of the record Rag Rag by Tunesian singer Zohra Lajnef on which Hijaz also performed. The record was released in 2004 in Tunesia only but laid the basis for further collaboration.
The group consist of aforementioned musicians plus Moroccan percussionist Azzedine Jazzouli, bass player Rui Salgado and drummer/percussionist Chryster Aerts, both jazz musicians from Belgium. This rhythm sections uses traditions from Morocco to India as influence for its adventurous and solid basis. Above this, oud and piano interact and create a mysterious athmosphere. Elements from the Maghreb, Middle East and western jazz are very strong in the music and create a European-Mediterranean sound. The band may have met in Belgium but their music instantly transports you to the calm inner courtyard of some shady house a stone's throw from the bustle of the market in some North-African town.
In May 2008 Hijaz released the debut Cd Dunes which was very well received in the press (see press section). On it you can also hear renowned Armenian duduk player Vardan Hovanissian who became the sixth member of Hijaz.
Dunes is a promising small masterpiece, that gives more satisfaction every time you listen to it.
- Moorsmagazine -
Clear punchy jazz with heavy Mediterranean and middle eastern flavours makes for a deeply rewarding album.
- Fly Global Music -
Time for a new phase in the musical journey that Hijaz has undertaken. After the Flemish Jazz Meeting and the JazzLab Series in May 2010 (tour in Belgium), it became clear that the group was ready to expand its sonic spectrum, and wanted to broaden the directions they had chosen. Some of the new compositions were tested during the JazzLab Series, and met with considerable acclaim. Recording a new CD was the obvious next step.
For this second CD, Chemsi, Hijaz further deepens the dialogue between the oud and the piano, between east and west, between emotion and reason, between theme and improvisation. The compositions are harmonically more profound and rhythmically more complex and adventurous. The title of the CD means sun, and perfectly reflects what makes these musicians tick – creating beauty and warmth.
Three more musicians were invited as guest players for the recording sessions of the new CD. Tunisian nay player Houssem Ben El Khadi had previously played a few concerts with Hijaz, and infuses their music with the fire and passion of the breathy flute sound of the nay. Tcha Limberger displays his virtuosity on Hijaz’ music, lifting it even higher. Finally, Edouard Prabhu, an Indian-French tabla player from Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu, India), was invited to add to the complex rhythms.
The result is enchanting, profound, mysterious and elevating, thanks to the splendid new compositions, the refined playing of all the musicians, the subtle production and the warm sound. After Chemsi, Hijaz has become an undeniable standard.
Chemsi is a story of friendship, respect, perseverance and professionalism. Backdrop is the twilight zone between Arab modes, western jazz and Greek rebetiko, where tradition and improvisation form each other’s yin and yang. Each has his task, each has his freedom. De heart of the story is in the magnificent and mystical climax of the CD: that the title of this composition is Ila Sadiqui (my friend), is not a coincidence.
- George Tonla Briquet -
Moufadhel Adhoum was born in 1965 in one of the most popular neighbourhoods of old Medina in Tunis. At the age of 12 he was introduced to the art of oud by the great master of traditional Tunesian and eastern music, Mr. Abderrahmane El Mehdi, and musicologist and Doctor in history of music, Mr Salah El Mehdi. At the same moment, he studied sheet music, Tunisian, Eastern and Arabic music at the Academy of Music of Tunis. He joined a national youth orchestra conducted by maestro Abdelkerim Dlissi and accompanied singers like Latifa, Amina Fakhet, Chokri Omar, etc who are now very famous in Tunisia and Arabia.
He also founded several musical ensembles, arranged music and worked as a sound manager at the recording studio Affriquiya Voici.
When he arrived in Belgium in 1989, intending to study interior design, he met lots of musicians of different origins and cultures like Turks, Spaniards and Indians and he founded the quartet Shahnez. Later he also collaborated with Ghalia Benali on the project Romeo and Leila, and became her musical righthand. He has performed on lots of international worldmusic festivals and is certainly one of the best oud players of Belgium. Moufadhel Adhoum teaches at Muziekpublique and Pianofabriek in Brussels and the Academy of Music in Sint Niklaas.
Niko Deman showed enthusiasm for music from a small age. That’s why at the age of eight he got his first keyboard on which he started experimenting with the magic of sounds. At the age of 16 the Greek background of his mother motivated him to start playing the bouzouki on his own. Four years later a Greek traditional music group was born which practiced the genre rebetika.
In 1997, his growing interest in jazz made him put all his energy in studying jazzpiano at the Jazzstudio of Antwerp. With his limitless goals, he began studying at the Academy of Music of Antwerp in 2000. He completed the years of candidature with Eric Vermeulen and the master program with Cristoph Erbstösser. Today Niko is a teacher of Jazz and Light Music at the Municipal Academies of Kalmthout, Brasschaat, Ekeren and Schoten, and at the Highschool of Music (Antwerp).
Azzedine Jazouli was born in Fez, Morocco, where he started playing percussion at the age of 5 and joined his first band at the age of 12. He enrolls at the Dar Adyel conservatory in Fez to study with Mr Abdel Ahed, the great master of Andalusian percussion. While in highschool he continues to play with several bands and performs at weddings and baptisms. He meets other youngsters sharing his passion for music. With them he forms his first grand orchestra and choral called Al Farabi. In 1981 he graduates from secondary school and leaves Morocco. Paris is his next stop. Cultural crossroads and corridor for the greatest of artist, the city lends itself perfectly to quench his first new encounters. Always looking for new horizons, he leaves for Nice in 1982 after an invitation from the great musician Said Makoudi. Later he also joined the bands of Goran Bregovic and Nass El Ghiwane.
From 1983 till now he has - more or less - been living in Belgium where he worked with Arabic music in a Brussels cabaret, and teached in several organisations. Musically he worked with Abdelli, Wannes Van de Velde, Luc Devos, Vera Cooman, ... At present he lives in Mechelen and works in fruitful collaborations with Ghalia Benali, Melike, Osama Abdulrasol Ensemble, Hijaz and Khalid Izri... and teaches in De Centrale (Ghent), Carte Blanche (Antwerp) and Muziekpublique (Brussels).
Chryster studied drums at the Academy of Music of Antwerp, Jazz and Light Music department, with the teachers Chander Sardjoe, Stephane Galland and Jan de Haas. He enrolled in several teaching practices for drums and percussion in both his own country and foreign countries (Berklee Summerschool in Italy, African percussion in Senegal, etc.). Chryster draws his experience out of several jazz formations like DEEP, DEEP, Four Orbits, Rainbow Rhythms, Virus, Paola Marquez Quartet and his sextet C.A. Band.
Nowadays he mostly puts his energy in the booty shakin' bigband Balaxy Orchestra, the pop group Assunta Mano and the Tunesian grooving Hijaz. He teaches drums and percussion classes at the Music Academies of Baarle-Hertog/Hoogstraten and Grimbergen and is the principal of the Junior Academy of Music of Sterrebeek. He also works as a freelance musician in schools and gives courses/workshops djembé (Villa Basta, Piazza dell’Arte, Oorsmeer,…). In May 2003, he received a laude of the Koning Boudewijnstichting for the project Ritmiekdag produced with his collegue-friend-drummer-percussionist Bart Van Aken. He also works as a freelance musician with the Dance Company Enclave of Roberto Olivan (De Farra, Helsinki 2005), Jerboa, the percussiongroup Mzungi and others…
Armenian doudoukplayer Vardan Hovanissian can be heard on two tracks of the album Dunes and was the last musician to join the group. Vardan has been touring the world as solist, in duo, in quartet with the group Arax, with Algerian Abdelli or with Israeli singer Yasmin Levy, with who he still plays. In Armenia he was a member of the national folkmusicensemble and the groups Gandzsar, Marathouk, Ervand Saharouny. The Armenian doudouk is one of the oldest instruments with double reed and is a symbol of the sound and soul of Armenia.
Rui Salgado is from Portuguese origin. After playing rock for some years he moved towards jazz and classical music and started to play the double bass. In 2006 he arrived in Belgium and studied at the conservatory which he finished in 2009. Since then he played in various formations (Le Diable Dans La Boïte, Cittacollectif, Traumklang, Maarten De Combel Trio, Aviakta Trio, Single Tree, …), he produced a series of concerts together with violinplayer Carlos Zingaro and composed for the Sel Ensemble. Next to that Rui is teacher at the Royal Atheneum Crommelynck and the Music Academy of Laeken.