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Jordanian pianist kicks off 8th annual Amman Jazz Festival

21 Apr 2019
AMMAN — Amman’s eighth annual jazz festival launched on Friday evening at Al Shams Theatre, with seasoned Jordanian jazz pianist Omar Faqir and his band delivering the festival’s first performance. Alongside the pianist was his brother Alaa on guitar and two guest musicians from Lebanon and Syria — Omar Harb on bass and Gio Najarian on drums.
 
Jazz vocalist Michelle Rounds joined the musicians on stage, demonstrating her typically daring scat technique. Rounds hails from Australia but resides in Egypt. This year, she is also the festival’s artistic director.
 
Faqir plays modern jazz, sometimes influenced by the great Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea. In a gesture that seemed to particularly please the audience on Friday, the band played a smartly “jazzified” rendition of the famous folkloric Arabic song “Wayn A Ramallah”, with Faqir giving long improvised solos to the drums, the bass and the guitar. The piece lends itself to jazz arrangements and rhythm, and is often performed at jazz concerts in Europe.
 
Upon introducing the group to the audience, Rounds admitted that “modern jazz is special, perhaps not really exclusive, but it is certainly a niche musical genre. If you are here tonight it only means that you really like it”. The audience comprised of an interesting 50-50 blend of Jordanians and foreign expatriates, gathered in their shared love of jazz music.
 
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