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IFRIQIYA

An exploration of the African roots of Tunisian music with a hybrid ensemble mixing a Jazz quartet and traditional Tunisian percussions.

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Mouley Ibrahim

Posted on July 2, 2019 by Yacine Boulares
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This video features Stambeli master Bellasan Mihoub on the Gombri, Lotfi Soua on percussions and Yacine Boulares on saxophone. It is part of a 1.5 hour video shot in Tunisia in May 2019 where Bellasan Mihoub presents Stambeli music and exchanges musical ideas with Yacine Boulares and Lotfi Soua. The traditional song “Mouley Ibrahim” is part of the Stambeli repertoire and is an invocation of the saint Ibrahim. As Yacine Boulares starts documenting and researching for the project IFRIQIYA he will be creating archives of all the encounters with traditional musicians from Tunisia, Morocco and Mali. These archives will be used to produce a documentary and to create a corpus of all original music.

Overview

In a collection of all original material, IFRIQIYA will bridge Tunisian rhythmic traditions to the language of modern jazz connecting Tunisian music and it’s sub saharan African roots via the Jazz idiom as an attempt to reinvent an Afro-Tunisian musical identity.

IFRIQIYA, represents the connection between Tunisia and its Sub Saharan African heritage. The Romans named the region that comprises what is today Tunisia, Western Libya and Eastern Algeria. This region would have given its name to the African continent.

Sub Saharan Africa and North Africa were always connected through trade of merchandise and slaves who brought along their rituals, languages, beliefs and music. Gnawa, Diwan, Stambeli are the most compelling examples of a blend of Sub Saharan culture with Islam and North African music, strongly reminiscent of West African rhythmic cultures from Benin, Nigeria and Ivory Coast.

In America, similar rhythmic structures stemming from the same regions of West Africa evolved into a modern form of expression known today as Jazz music.

The goal of this project is to explore the African roots of Tunisian music, its trance rhythms, bewitching bass lines and elegiac chants, through a Jazz perspective. The quartet will use Jazz as a source of harmonic flexibility, improvisation and melodic developments to transmute Tunisian rhythmic traditions into something new, reclaiming the mutual West African roots of these two traditions.

In order to implement this project, a Jazz quartet including  saxophonist Yacine Boulares, drummer Nasheet Waits, bassist Simon Tailleu and pianist Maxime Sanchez will travel to Tunisia for 10 days. The quartet will travel with an audio recording engineer and a videographer in order to document the process leading to the recording of an album in New York.

For 10 days they will travel in the different regions of Tunisia to meet with different Tunisian percussion ensembles. Although a full itinerary is not set yet, it will include collaborations with Stambeli group Sidi Al Asmar in Sousse, Salah El Ouergli in Tunis, Sfax’ percussion ensemble, El Arkhabil ensemble in Kerkennah.

Each work session will be focused on one specific rhythm and will result in an original composition. At the end of the residency the quartet will fly back to NYC and spend 4 days in a recording studio to record an album of original compositions informed by their encounter with Tunisian percussionists, some of whom will be featured as guests artists on the album.

In January 2019 Yacine Boulares was selected to be a part of the 2019 Joe’s Pub Working Group to develop the project as an artist in residence at Joe’s Pub. Throughout the year he will workshop the project with their administrative support.

IFRIQIYA will be premiered in the Spring 2020 . Prospective venues (previous project was presented there in 2018) are: The Lincoln Center Atrium, National Sawdust, The Jazz gallery, The Weis Center for the Arts (PA), The Atlas Performing Arts Center (DC), Ars Nova (Philadelphia), Joe’s Pub.

We are asking support from New Music USA to commission the composition of the work.

Project Media

Nuba- Resilience
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Nuba & Resilience are the last two movements of Yacine Boulares’ last project Suite for Abu Sadiya, composed for cello, soprano saxophone and drums. Inspired by Tunisian Stambeli, the healing trance music of the Afro-tunisians, the suite tells the story of Abu Sadiya, the spiritual guide of African slaves brought into Tunisia from the Xith century.
The project premiered in the US at the Lincoln Center Atrium in April 2018 ans toured the East coast (Atlas Performing arts center, Jazz Gallery, DC Jazz Fest, Ars Nova …)

Bahriyya (the water spirits)
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Bahriyya is the second of Yacine Boulares’ last project Suite for Abu Sadiya, composed for cello, soprano saxophone and drums. Inspired by Tunisian Stambeli, the healing trance music of the Afro-tunisians, the suite tells the story of Abu Sadiya, the spiritual guide of African slaves brought into Tunisia from the Xith century.
The project premiered in the US at the Lincoln Center Atrium in April 2018 ans toured the East coast (Atlas Performing arts center, Jazz Gallery, DC Jazz Fest, Ars Nova …)

Takhmira (a trance)
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Takhmira is the fourth movement of Yacine Boulares’ last project Suite for Abu Sadiya, composed for cello, soprano saxophone and drums. Inspired by Tunisian Stambeli, the healing trance music of the Afro-tunisians, the suite tells the story of Abu Sadiya, the spiritual guide of African slaves brought into Tunisia from the Xith century.
The project premiered in the US at the Lincoln Center Atrium in April 2018 ans toured the East coast (Atlas Performing arts center, Jazz Gallery, DC Jazz Fest, Ars Nova …)

Start and End Dates

10/15/201903/20/2020

Location

New York City, New York

1 update
Last update on July 2, 2019

Project Created By

Brooklyn, New York
After graduating with a BA in Philosophy French-Tunisian saxophonist and composer Yacine Boulares decides to take a year off to respond to the urge to play music. He takes his first music lessons and after studying under Andre Villeger for 3 years he wins the International Esprit Jazz Competition in Paris and is endorsed by…

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