Muscat: Jazz aficionados in Oman are set to enjoy a number of great concerts this season, with big names and old favourites playing at the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM).
There are four jazz concerts scheduled in the upcoming 2014-2015 season at the ROHM, and each is sure to delight in a unique way. From Latin and Arab jazz, to traditional New Orleans jazz and smooth vocals, there will be something for everyone, according to Christina Scheppelmann, director general of the ROHM.
The jazz series kicks off on September 25 with a performance by Paquito D'Rivera, a 12-time Grammy Award winning Cuban clarinettist, and alto and soprano saxophonist. D'Rivera's music can range from sultry and smooth to energetic and spicy. Since he defected from Cuba to New York in 1981, at times his music is also tinged with a classic American jazz tone.
"He is fantastic! He's such a great musician, such a nice person, warm and understated, but what a great artiste. It's Cuban-American jazz with a personal twist. I really think it's very creative," Scheppelmann said.
D'Rivera will be playing with his Panamericana Ensemble, which includes nine other musicians. Their concert is described as a "journey through the musical landscape of the Americas".
On January 8, 2015 one of the hottest jazz vocalists of today will charm the audience with her smoky, sensual voice. Melody Gardot, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter, pianist and guitar player from Philadelphia, got into jazz as a way to recover from a devastating accident in 2003. Music helped her regain her memory and her communication skills. She has since recorded three albums, each one showcasing her talent as a songwriter and her warm vibrato-filled voice. Scheppelmann described Gardot as "one of the top female jazz singers from the Americas," putting her in the same league as Canada's Diana Krall, who performed here in April.
"We're very fortunate to have two seasons in a row such high level, outstanding jazz singers," she noted.
Two classically trained Arab musicians, Tunisian violinist Yasmine Azaiez and Syrian clarinettist Kinan Azmeh, will unite on the ROHM stage on March 10 for a night of Arab jazz. It's a concert that will bring something new and different to the stage.
"They come from their own musical culture, but both have developed a great expansion into Western jazz. It's a bit of an experiment, but an experiment at a high level and it'll be interesting," promised Scheppelmann.
She added that there are a number of Arab jazz musicians who are now blending Arab and jazz music, creating beautiful new rhythms and sounds. She said this combining and fusing of cultures is one of the positive creative aspects of globalisation, and one which the ROHM supports.
"I think that's a wonderful development in today's world. We have the opportunity to mix and make cultural connections," she explained.
Finally, in a concert that will no doubt be a big hit, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans will return to the ROHM on April 28, 2015, two years after their first triumphant performance here. The sold-out show in April 2013 had people dancing in the aisles to the bands' classic swinging tunes.
"It was such a success when they came here the first time. I think when something is a great success it is worth after two years or after three years to bring somebody back. It's also important to build an audience, not just to repeat something but to also have people enjoy a singer, a group or an artist and have the chance to see them again and maybe grow a fan base," Scheppelmann said about the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
No doubt the jazz line-up at the ROHM will delight jazz fans, and intrigue those curious about the mesmerising genre.
For tickets or more information about the jazz concerts at the ROHM, visit www.rohmuscat.org.om
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