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  • Strangers in the Night: Hesham Galal on Performing with a Man He’s Never Met at Cairo Jazz Club

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    As one of Cairo’s most seasoned jazz musicians, Hesham Galal is no stranger to the art of collaborating. Cairo Jazz Club regulars will know the pianist from several bands and projects, including Cocoon and the Cairo Big Band Society, but on Tuesday 3 October, the Agouza bar is set to host him for a decidedly different kind of collaboration.

    In addition to taking to the stage alongside another Cairo-based jazz man, Andre Segone, Swiss saxophonist, Emanuele Di Nardo, is also set to join him on stage. Oh, a nice internationally-flavoured gig that proves that music is a universal language, right? Well, yes, but that’s not what makes this performance special.

    “This collaboration is quite unique, as I have never met Emanuel,” Galal told us. “Thanks to Cairo Jazz Club we were able to come in contact, and communicate to discuss the details of the performance and exchange notes.”

    It’s a peculiar way to approach any live performance; everything needs to be precise, measured and in-sync – but Galal and Segone will be in the company of a true master of the craft. Having first learnt to play the saxophone at age 8, Di Nardo’s musical journey has seen him attend the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, before completing a masters in Music Pedagogy under the tutelage of another acclaimed Swiss saxophonist, Rico Gubler – one of many top musicians and scholars he’s learned from, including Lars Mlekusch, Sascha Armbruster, Evan Parker, Claude Delangle, Randall Hall, Marcus Weiss, Walter Fähndrich, Tino D’agostino, Sergio Bellotti. 

    Collaborations are nothing new to Di Nardo; he has in the last decade played with the Civic Philharmonic of Lugano, the Chamber Ensemble of the Scala Theatre of Milan and the CSI Orchestra. But this Swiss Superman’s grasp of his art knows no limits; he’s also a saxophone teacher and has even being in a few rock bands in Switzerland over the years.

    Even so, the idea of musicians that have never met each other playing together is a peculiar and rare occurrence. Galal doesn’t seem worried, though.

    “One of the great advantages of being a jazz musician is that you can communicate with all jazz artists from all over the world easily,” he says confidently. “We speak the same language,” he continues, adding that, actually, this might bring a unique dynamic to the performance.

    But in pointing to jazz as one of the few genres that can carry this kind of project, he’s also quick to send a nod to Cairo Jazz Club – one of the few venues in Cairo that would dare to come along for this kind of ride.

    “I still remember my first gig there in 1998 and seeing it evolving and gaining more music fans and attracting more young bands to perform.  Cairo Jazz Club plays an important role in the music scene in Egypt.”

    Hesham Galal, Andre Segone and Emanuele Di Nardo perform at Cairo Jazz Club on Tuesday 3 October. For more information, check out the event on Facebook.

    By Kalam El Qahaira