AL QAHWA ENSEMBLE-New Single + Video-MARRAKESH:Out October 2

TORONTO,17.09.20- – Hot on the heels of their sophomore album CAIRO MOON, local world music group AL QAHWA ENSEMBLE are releasing the first single “MARRAKESH” from their upcoming album African Routes which will be released November 27. The musicians, now all based in Toronto, but from varied backgrounds are Egyptian-Canadian MARYEM TOLLAR on vocals, riqq (Arabic tambourine) and qanun (Arabic table harp); Canadian ERNIE TOLLAR on wind instruments; Greek-Canadian DEMETRI PETSALAKIS on oud (Arabic fretless lute), and Iranian-Canadian NAGHMEH FAHRAHMAND on Middle Eastern percussion. Special guests include WALEED ABDULHAMID, FETHI NADJEM and ROULA SAID. The official release date is October 2nd for the single and October 16 for the accompanying video produced by ED HANLEY. “Marrakesh” will be available on Spotify, CD Baby, Apple Music / iTunes and all platforms where music is streamed or downloaded.

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Since their break-out album The Coffee House in 2016, Al Qahwa Ensemble has performed original compositions, instrumental improvisations, as well as popular traditional Arabic repertoire – from hypnotic Sufi Devotional Love songs from the Arab world to popular folk songs, to classic Egyptian songs made famous by the stars of Egypt (the Hollywood of the Middle East).

The first single “Marrakesh,” from the group’s upcoming album African Routes is composed by Maryem Tollar, with vocal drum break by Ernie Tollar. It starts from a bassy, gently-plucked Moroccan gimbre solo; moves to a repeating, super-energetic “Hey-Hey!” and “Do-Mi, Do-Mi, Do-Fa!” solfage call-and-response chorus set to a persistently percussive rhythm track; and yields only for a single calmer verse, first sung in French, then in Arabic. The song fairly crackles with the hustling, bustling energy that you’d find in the old market of the titular city, in Morocco.

“Marrakesh,” was inspired by the all-women group B'Net Marrakesh who performed on the Canadian Folk festival circuit the same summer as the Tollars’ group performed. They sang a particular chant "Hey Hey Hey Hey," that Maryem couldn't get out of her head, even after the summer was long over. This song is the result.

The music video for “Marrakesh” was produced, assembled and edited by Ed Hanley with live video edits by Cathy Ord. Audio was recorded by Reza Moghaddas at Small World Music Centre. Additional footage by Omneya Tollar who filmed the beach with Roula Said and Maryem Tollar and who filmed the close ups of Maryem (red shirt, blue room).

Al Qahwa is Maryem Tollar - vocals; Ernie Tollar - nay flute, vocals; Demetri Petsalakis - riqq, vocals; Naghmeh Farahmand - dumbek, vocals) featuring guest artists: Roula Said - dance, vocals; Fethi Nadjem - gimbre, vocals; Waleed Abdulhamid - bass, vocals.