Sunday, September 12, 2004:

Ali Hassan Kuban

Ali Hassan Kuban -- Mabrouk Wo Arisna
Ali Hassan Kuban was from Nubia, one of the planet's oldest continuously inhabited areas. Most of it doesn't exist anymore; it was flooded when the Aswan High Dam was built. In the 1940s, Hassan and his family moved from their village to Cairo, where Kuban first heard jazz and James Brown, developed a strong interest in music, learned the clarinet and several other instruments, and started a band to play weddings. Cairo's population soared as the Aswan High Dam neared completion in the early 1960s; Kuban became quite popular, heading several different bands and employing several dozen musicians (there are 22 listed in the liner notes to Nubian Magic).

"Kuban" is a nickname referring to Hassan's eclectic tastes: he was apparently very fond of Cuban music, and his move to add Western instruments to traditional Nubian songs was controversial, as was his decision to sing some of the songs in Arabic.

This track is off Nubian Magic, which is laced with trumpets, saxophones, bongos, accordions, electric bass, and the occasional synthesizer, and is 10/12 great (I don't care for the dance remixes bookending the rest of the tracks, but your mileage may vary).

The liner notes inform me that this song is in Kenuz, is Sudanese Reggae, and is about a wedding. All right then. All I know is, I don't know the words but I want to sing along.
A brief biography.
and another.


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