Born: July 31, 1957 Primary Instrument: Guitar
He is carrying on the tradition of jazz guitar from Wes Montgomery to the present day while expanding some musical boundaries, combining Afro-Mediterranean music with a tradition well represented by jazz standards. His savvy original composition catch listeners, while making groove and jam-oriented music create a symbiotic affinity between the artist and the audience.
Mamdouh Bahri was born in Sfax, Tunisia, and came to Montpellier, in the south of France, at the age of 25. He grew up listening to the traditional music of Tunisia, where he absorbed the Eastern strains into his music and started playing Derbouka (hand drum percussion).
As a teenager, he listened to Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton and B.B. King. When he got his first guitar at eighteen, he started emulating their sounds and performing with local bands, adding his own personal flair to the popular songs of the seventies.
When he heard George Benson's Weekend in L.A. he got interested in jazz and started listening to the work of Benson, Wes Montgomery, and Joe Pass, and later to Pat Martino, which sparked a lifelong love of jazz.
In 1982, he moved to Montpellier and was recruited by JAM (Jazz Action Montpellier) to teach music, and played a key role in the development of the organization until 1991. He became a very active musician and has kept an open musical mind, listening to more jazz (Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis) and learning to play straight-ahead jazz.
His first recording Song for Sarah, recorded in 1987, was post-bop funk-oriented.
In 1988, Mamdouh Bahri came up with a unique way of propelling his Mediterranean heritage mixed with the jazz and Blues.
From 1989 to 1993, he formed a quartet with the pianist Horace Parlan which also included Italian bassist Riccardo Del Fra and drummer Idris Muhammad from New Orleans. In 1991 they recorded the CD From Tunisia with Love, live in Carthage.
In 1991 he moved to New York City and joined the collective The Spirit of Life Ensemble led by Daoud Williams, and performed with Talib Kibwe, Ted Curson, Michael Cochrane, and Wynard Harper, among others. He recorded seven albums with them, using his distinctive playing and compositional skills to bring freshness to the sound of the collective.
In 1993, he released his third album Nefta. The original tunes were influenced by a variety of musical traditions including Middle Eastern, Jazz and North African music.
In 1998, he continued with an acoustic album African Flame in trio (guitar, percussion & bass), exploring and growing his music, transcending cultural, genre and language barriers.
Now he is taking all these diverse influences and styles and mixing them with jazz all over again
As leader France : Avignon, Bagnols-les-Bains, Bastia (festival 1990), Béziers (festival Jazz d'O 1989), Cahors, Montpellier, Nantes (festival 2002); Nîmes, Niort, Paris, Pézenas (festival 1992), Pointe-à-Pitre (festival 03); Romans (festival 1993), Sète, Toulouse, Uzès.… Tunisia: Bizerte (1988), Carthage (festival 1991), Djerba (03), El Jem (festival 2000), Hammamet (festival 03), Sfax (1991, 88), Sousse (2000) Tabarka (Jazz Festival 2000), Tunis (2004, 2000, 1991, 88). USA: New Jersey (2000, 1996, 95, 92, 91), New York (2000) As sideman Bahrain: Manama (2003-02), China: Peking (2000), EAU (2003-02): Abu-Dhabi, Dubai, Estonia: (Tallinn 2002, Tartu 1998), Finland: Imatra, Turku (2001), Pori (2001, 1999, 98, 97, 96, 95), France: (Paris, Auxerre, Lille, Grenoble, Foix, Lens), Gabon: Libreville (2000), India (2001): Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madras, Trivandrum, Qatar (2002): Doha, Al Khor, USA: New-York at the Blue Note (1995, 92), Sweet Basil (2000, 1998, 97, 96, 95), S.O;B'S (1993, 91), Five Spot (1995, 94), Michigan (Detroit), Connecticut (Hartford), Illinois (Chicago World Music 2000), Ohio (Cincinnati, Wilberforce), Virginia (Richmond), Maryland (Baltimore), Alabama (Birmingham), New-Jersey (Trumpets, Colleges, Universities, Schools, Libraries...)
France ** Mamdouh Bahri African Flame, CD: Aljazzira JC 55004 (1998) ** Compilation Deux Z, CD : ZZ 84123 (1995) ** Mamdouh Bahri Nefta-les portes du désert, CD: ZZ 84110 MFA (1993) ** Mamdouh Bahri From Tunisia With Love, Live at Carthage, with Horace Parlan, Idris Muhammad, Riccardo Del Fra, CD: RECD 025 (1992) ** Mamdouh Bahri Song For Sarah, K7: Aljazzira JK 55001 (1987)
USA/Japan ** Spirit of Life Ensemble Live au Duc, CD: RUP 100-12 (2002) ** Spirit of Life Ensemble Song For My Father, CD: KICJ 361 (1998) ** Spirit of Life Ensemble Collage, CD: RUP 100-10 (1998) ** Spirit of Life Ensemble Live at Pori Jazz, CD: RUP 100-9 (1997) ** Spirit of Life Ensemble Live! at the 5 Spot, NY, CD: RUP 100-8 (1995) ** Spirit of Life Ensemble Feel the Spirit, CD: RUP 100-4 (1994) ** Spirit of Life Ensemble Inspirations, CD: RUP 100-3 (1993)
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