Lebanese-French artist Maalouf takes Istanbul stage at Jazz Festival
ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily NewsThe 24th edition of the Akbank Jazz Festival opens today in Istanbul. One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be world renowned Lebanese-French trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, who will take the stage on Oct. 25 at Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall.
The name Maalouf is familiar to audiences as he is the nephew of award winning Lebanese-born French author Amin Maalouf.
Ibrahim Maalouf, who incorporates many different genres of music, from rock to jazz, grew up in Beirut in an intellectual milieu under the influence of his uncle Amin Maalouf, and began to study music under the guidance of his father, who is also the inventor of the microtonal trumpet with four valves, called the “quarter tone trumpet.”
Maalouf has released five albums so far, including “Illusions,” which was released in 2013. He also studied classical, baroque, modern and contemporary repertoires during his musical training and even though he does not have formal jazz training, he was well-received by critics for his strong technique and his success in improvisation. With his unique style, he was noticed in the jazz, pop and rock music world and he has performed with well-known artists as Sting and Vanessa Paradis.
Maalouf told the Hürriyet Daily News that he started playing the trumpet with his father’s motivation and has never given it up because he says he feels responsible for the heritage of his father.
“My father, Nassim, taught me everything I know about the trumpet. Leaving the trumpet would be like leaving my father, and I can’t do that. Also, I learned how to love this instrument,” Maalouf says.
He moved from Lebanon when he was seven, before the civil war, and grew up in France. “Both cultures are very different. I guess you learn how to make compromises. The best way to understand the world is to have two views or more. Depending on where you are looking from, you don’t see the same thing the same way. Everything is variable. That is the most important thing that a double culture teaches you,” he said.
Maalouf argues that he "belongs to the both countries" and he is not half-French and half-Lebanese but 100 percent Lebanese and 100 percent French.
As for the effects of his uncle Amin Maalouf, the trumpeter said he is a "genius." “He doesn’t think like most of us. He has something special that brings him somewhere where he can watch all of us, and see and understand things that we don’t see,” Maalouf says.
Maalouf successfully combines jazz, funk jazz, classical, electro and rock into a unique fusion style.
“I compose what comes up in my mind. I don’t try to mix anything. I think I belong to a generation that just refuses to be put in a box, because the Internet opened our eyes to the rest of the world. We see, hear, smell, eat, all kinds of cultures from everywhere in the world. I grew up listening to Bach, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Michael Jackson, Prince, Metallica, De La Soul, Eric Clapton, Laço Tayfa, Kudsi Ergüner, the Police, Genesis, Miles Davis, etc. All this is my culture,” he said.
Ahead of his Istanbul concert, Maalouf said he "loves Turkey” and reserved particular praise for Istanbul. “Istanbul is for me the only place on earth where I feel that people completely understand me and my music. In Istanbul, there is a mix between traditions and modernity, between east and west, between religions, between all kinds of identities and that makes me feel at home,” he said.
Maalouf's Istanbul concert repertoire includes songs from the album “Illusions.” “We have already played this album in Turkey, but the concerts were sold out, and lots of people complained that we didn’t play more often, so when we got invited, we said ‘yes,’” he said.
Festival opens tonight
Opening with a concert by China Moses tonight, the 24th Akbank Jazz Festival offers a rich program until Nov. 2.
Throughout the festival, 300 musicians will take part in 44 concerts, 13 workshops and two seminars. Jamie Cullum, the Kenny Barron & Dave Holland duo, Christian McBride, Chet Faker, Patricia Barber, Kathy Kosins, José James, Claudio Filippini, Karsu Dönmez, China Moses and Yasmine Hamdan will be among the other festival performers.