DHAFER

YOUSSEF

#global expressions in jazz

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Dhafer Bin Youssef Bin Tahar Maarref, better known by the name of Dhafer Youssef is a Tunisian composer, singer and oud player born in 1967 in Téboulba. His artistic career started when he was only 10 years old. Dhafer was then used to animate at wedding ceremonies with his voice in his native village. Noticed by the quality of his services, he was asked to perform for several times on Radio Monastir. Then he taught himself to play the oud. He moved to Vienna in Austria between 1989 and 1999. His departure for Vienna was motivated by the opportunity to study music. He arrived practically broke, and did small jobs to be able to afford lessons.

During this period, he went regularly listening to music in clubs, until he met the artist Tony Burger. He was to teach him how to transcribe his music. Chance then put on his way the musician Jatinder Thakur who introduced him to Indian music. It was a great discovery for him. The following years, despite his precarious financial situation, were a dream to Dhafer. He began performing in small theaters with other musicians, including accordionist Otto Lechner. That is when an incredible opportunity was offered to him. The Jazz club Porgy and Bess, in fact, offered him to play once a month for a year with the repertoire he wants with musicians of his choice

He achieved great success with his own band he named Zyriab after the famous Andalusian musician and started performing every month. This led him to produce his first album, “Malak”. He then recorded a new album, “Electric Sufi” with mystic Arab and jazzy sounds, and electronic and funk music. After living 10 years in Vienna, Dhafer then chose Paris as a new home. He recorded his third album in 2003, “Digital Prophecy”, an alliance of Eastern groove and intense trance. Then he went on a tour at the Festival and Blue Suburban and Jazzman, with a quintet consisting of bassist Audun Erlien, drummer Rune Arnesen, trumpeter Arve Henriksen and guitarist Eivind Aarset

The concert was described as “a fascinating meeting between Sufi spirituality and the most creative musicians of the Norwegian scene.” He has also recorded duets with artists such magnificent as Paolo Fresu, Nguyen Le, Bugge Wesseltoft and Omar Sosa. His latest album “Abu Nawas Rhapsody” is a beautiful collection of poems of the Abbasid era glorifying God in a passionate style that characterizes Sufism, mixing piety and pleasure, the sacred and the profane. Dhafer Youssef is now considered one of the best contemporary jazzmen, and a pillar of the Tunisian underground music, with his music nourished by Sufi traditions and Arabic lyricism, multicultural influences and instrumentation drawn from jazz and improvisation.

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