Musical Road to Womex 2021 – Naïssam Jalal and the Rhythms of Resistance

Our Road to the 2021 edition of Womex keeps on winding through the world-music world. From Brussels and Echoes of Zoo, we now travel to Syria and the Middle East via Paris.

There, we have the pleasure to get acquainted with the exceptional musicianship and social awareness of flautist and composer Naïssam Jalal and her band Rhythms of Resistance. They are one of the exciting Womex official showcases we are going to enjoy in Porto in less than a couple of weeks’ time. They will indeed be performing on the evening of the 28th of October, on the stage of Teatro Rivoli.

Despite a classical musical education, Naïssam has “jammed” her way through distant styles and traditions. So much so, the sound she brings today with her ensemble is a rhythmic and fervidly engaged mix between jazz, hip-hop and influences from the Middle East, Arabic world and four corners of Africa.

2021 marks the tenth anniversary of the Rhythms of Resistance, and the musicians celebrated the landmark with the release of a double album titled Un Autre Monde back in February.

So, there’s no better time to learn more about the project from the voice of Naïssam and discover their music taste and inspirations with a playlist.

Can you briefly introduce your music to someone who is going to listen to it for the first time at Womex?

I am inspired by a lot of different music, I refuse to be locked in closed boxes and identities. I am inspired by my life, by what fate puts on my path or by what the world imposes on me. So I would prefer to let them discover it live, without any previous idea.

Who and what are your music influences and where does your sound come from?

I am inspired on the US side by the modal jazz of the 70s, the soul/funk of the 70s also with people like John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Gil Evans, Mingus, Roy Ayers, Don Blackman, George Clinton, and many others I am inspired by desert music (Mandingo and Mauritanian music) with artists like Ali Farka Touré or Dimi Mint Aba in particular.

I am obviously very inspired by the classical, religious, devotional, and folkloric Arabic music of Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Morocco, and one of my greatest sources of inspiration is Hindustani music (North India and Pakistan) with instrumentalists or singers like Hariprasad Chaurasia, N. Rajam, Bhimsen Joshi, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kaushiki Shakrabarti, and many others. Finally I am inspired by Bach, Mozart and Debussy.

My sound comes from Within….

As well as a Worldwide Music Expo, Womex is a good and proper global music fun fair. Is there anything you are looking forward to attending/enjoying during those five days?

I am looking forward to sharing my music with as many people as possible and being able to discover good musicians and meet good people from all around the World.

This Womex edition will happen in Porto. Have you ever been there and is there anything you are looking forward to doing/visiting/eating or drinking in the Portuguese city?

Porto seems to be a beautiful city and I am really looking forward to walking down those colored streets and eating some fresh grilled fish. 

 It goes without saying that Covid-19, lockdowns and regulations have deeply affected the music world in the last 20 months. How do you think the “post-pandemic” music world is going to unfold and what will be the “new normal” in the world music scene?

The way everything has gone online is really worrying. We are humans. We need to feel things, to be touched, to listen, to see, to smell. I think we need to make all our efforts to get people together again in music. Not individuals separated each one in his own space with screens separating them from the world.

 Womex is a unique opportunity to share and showcase your music with new people and let them know about your upcoming projects. Can you reveal to us some of your plans for the future?

I am working on  Rituals of Healing, a creation with my new quartet, with great musicians.  That means that I will be touring with 4 of my projects in ’ 2022-’23.

Let’s say that you have to draft an invitation card for our readers to join you at Womex and enjoy your showcase. What would you write in it?

Come with good protectionS, we are so hot you might get burned 😉


Photo ©: Seka


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