An award-winning novelist has described their music as “fascinating,” a film director finds their music “mezmerizing” and El País has described their concerts as “unmissable”. The word on the street is that ‘Folk-Jazz-Arabe’ are one of the most exciting and original bands on the Valencia music scene.
Who are Folk-Jazz-Arabe?
We’re a trio of musicians, all from different countries but all based in Valencia. We have been playing in and around Valencia as a band since 2010. We’ve played all over Valencia in many venues including Café Mercedes Jazz, Ubik Café, Black Note, Smooth Jazz, the Festival Russafart, La Feria de Naciones in the Rio Turia and more…
Abdel Louzari – Morocco (Oud, Arabic violin, darbuka, vocals)
I’m a multi-instrumentalist from Morocco who has played in festivals in Italy and Spain. I have played violin on the soundtrack of the films “Torres de Babel” and ‘’ Mi vida en ruinas” as well as having appeared on various TV programmes for live performances. I teach percussion and regularly play festivals with various music projects around Valencia and the rest of Spain. I’m off to Ibiza soon to rehearse for a concert in Switzerland near the end of the month!
Nuno Alves – Portugal ( trumpet)
I trained in a music conservatory in Portugal from 1987 to 1999 and then studied and specialized in improvisation in jazz , latin and world music. I have recorded with a multitude of bands in Valencia as well as appearing on a number of soundtracks, including the edgy Valencian film ‘Bestuzuelas’, which opened last years’s La Mostra film festival. I played on stage with Chambao at a festival in Amsterdam and supported George Clinton & Parliament at a funk festival in Genoa, Italy. I got to meet and hang out with the great man too! I also played a festival in Angola, Africa…
Will McCarthy – England ( guitar, vocals)
I’m a self-taught guitarist, singer and songwriter. I started playing live in the 90s in an eclectic folk-punk band called The Space Raiders in the underground music scene in Wales, supporting Catatonia, The Sweetest Ache and Man amongst others. Iv’e played live in Britain, Ireland, Czech Republic, Italy and a number of times at the legendary 12 bar club, Soho, London. I have recorded a number of solo albums highly recommended by the Spanish music paper ‘Mondo Sonoro’ and my guitar soundtrack album ‘This is Music for Films’ has been chosen by the North American specialist music site ‘Delta Slider’ for digital download. It’s a real honour to have been chosen on the same site as legends like BB King, Eric Clapton, Paco Pena and one of my all-time guitar heroes… John Fahey.
Could you describe the debut album ’80 min’ ?
It’s our debut and it’s a double album that is 80 minutes long, which explains the title! It’s all acoustic and 90% instrumental. People who have heard it tells us that it really works. You can’t really categorize the sound easily but you’ll find diverse influences like flamenco, folk, blues, Arabic music, European film music, different types of jazz even shades of classical music as well as some funk and Mediterranean sounds. It’s not a conventional album in terms of length or the instruments used. There’s no electric bass or drum-kit or electric guitars or keyboards or samplers.
We’re all very open-minded about music we listen to but we are not interested in making music that is fashionable or commercial one moment and then forgotten the next. It’s good to reach very different people with our music and we play what we want and people have picked up on that in a positive way. Acoustic music potentially has a timeless quality that we are always looking for in recording .Instrumental music is all about the listener making the pictures and the stories as well as the musicians so it is exciting music to make and to share with other people too. We’ve noticed that the reaction so far has been good regardless of the nationality or age of the listener. Maybe with the trio being from such different cultures and backgrounds it helps give the sound of ‘Folk-Jazz-Arabe’ a broad appeal too.
Is the band different live?
It’s a lot of fun playing live in Valencia! We sing more in the live shows and it’s sometimes a bit more irreverent but we are including instrumental tracks from the album in all our shows and the album is available at all our gigs as well as some outlets in Valencia like Refugio and The Laundry Stop, both in the Barrio del Carmen.
Is it true that Jose Mourinho has a copy of the album?
Yes! One of the band works for the football press and met Mourinho outside the press conference after Real Madrid thrashed Valencia in Mestalla recently. The connection is that Mourinho is from the same town in Portugal as our trumpet player.The manager was chuffed to hear of this and happily accepted the CD. Away from the public eye he seems quite warm and informal, rather human even!
Take us through the tracks from your Folk-Jazz-Arabe album: ‘From Ibiza to Berlin’
’Balansiya (reprise)’ introduces the album and is sung in Arabic, accompanied by violin. Balansiya is the Arabic name for Valencia, which was ruled by the Moors for 500 years.
‘La Playa or The Beach’ begins with sea sounds that then turn windy, which introduces the Arabic wind instrument of the Ney that segues into a darbuka and trumpet groove that later segues into a bossa nova style number. From the Mediterranean to the shores of Brazil in one song.
‘Arthur Lee’ is about Love’s enigmatic leader, Arthur Lee, who remains one of music’s most underrated composers. This is a homage to him that combines elements of dark flamenco, classical, jazz, soul, blues, funk and his distinctive time-changes, mood changes, stoned humour, reclusiveness, and the timelessness and mystery of his music…
‘Rust in Peace’ is the kind of rusty waltz-like tune that a woozy band in a Fellini film might have played.
‘Syd Barrett’ starts off with a Victorian music box reminiscent of his happy childhood and then segues into the sounds of nature that anyone who has visited Cambridge will be familiar with. Bike bells, King’s college choir then Syd’s love of jazz and blues, a melancholy section, a trippy fairground, then a nightmarish section and finally peace with a Cambridge choir, cows and church bells as the outro. Both of Syd Barrett’s former girlfriends, Jenny Spires & Libby Gausden, got in touch via Facebook to say how much they liked the song and video. Jenny even wrote to us a 500-word email about it!
‘Torre’ is a snaky groove that combines Arabic percussion and chant with a jazzy trumpet. Miles Davis in Marrakech?
‘Eivissa’ begins with a sea recording off the coast of Ibiza (with Café del Mar’s ambient sounds humming distantly in the background). It then segues into an Arabic percussion work out. The Arabs conquered Ibiza and, hundreds of years later, the percussion is also reminiscent of the hippies of Ibiza who drum in groups as the sun sets. The song segues into acoustic chill – out sections, jazzier parts, a flamenco solea and ends on a high with a joyous, intense & festive outro.
‘Berlin’ begins with the oud, which represents the strong Turkish influence of the German city, it then goes back into the past for a more decadent 20s/30s Cabaret type feel and the underlying menace of what was to come. It then returns to a 7am ‘coming down after partying all night’ 21st century fragmented folk vibe. It then ups the ante with a punchier, jazzier outro section.
‘Space & Time’ is an atmospheric track. Plenty of time-changes on this one!
‘ La Valenciana’ is homage to the women of Valencia. It’s a city that can be both intense yet carefree at the same time. An enigma…
Tell us about your soundtrack work…
Seven songs by Folk-Jazz-Arabe form a major part of soundtrack that we were commissioned to write for a documentary by a Valencian production company called Volya. The documentary is called ‘Sobre El Cielo de Azerbaiyan’ and is the true story of how, during the Second World War, exiled Spanish Republican pilots with Spanish Civil War experience were asked to fly to Azerbaijan to train Soviets pilots in record time. The war was on so time was of the essence. Azerbaijan produced 70% of the Soviet Union’s oil and Hitler knew that if he captured Azerbaijan’s oil he would probably win the war. Even before the outbreak of war, British & French intelligence was aware of the importance of Azerbaijan’s oil supply and had even considered destroying it to thwart a potential Nazi victory…even Stalin considered it as the war went on!
The Nazis invaded Azerbaijan but were defeated by the bravery and skill of the experienced Spanish & Soviet pilots combined. In the documentary, one of the elderly Spanish pilots, well into his nineties, is interviewed and he recounts personally shooting down 30 Nazi planes. The documentary was premiered this summer at the Muvim in Valencia with the Madrid-based ambassador of Azerbaijan presenting the documentary, which forms part of a new relationship between Spain and Azerbaijan regarding growing cultural, commerce & tourism links. Azerbaijan is now an independent state and is 80% Muslim. We are told that the Arabic, Spanish & instrumental elements of out music fitted well with the story. The documentary has been aired on national television in Spain (Television Española La2 ) as well as in Azerbaijan and other countries.
Could you tell us about your side project Folk Jazz Arabe ‘Syria’?
We have written and recorded album ‘Syria’ , which consists of 9 originally composed songs concerned with the country. There are no jazz elements on this album; it’s more a fusion of Arabic & Folk music, using traditional & only acoustic instruments. Given the subject matter, it’s quite dark but ends on a note of hope. It is free to download and there is a video of the album on Youtube.
More information https://folk-jazz-arabe.bandcamp.com/