A native of Tunisia, Wajdi Cherif grew up playing by ear Arabic and pop music he heard on the local radio starting at age 5. His interest in jazz began late in his 20's when he discovered pianists Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk by watching their live performance videos at the American cultural center in Tunis while he was studying English language and Literature at college.
This marked a turning point in his musical career as he decided to explore jazz piano and composition even further. Wajdi Cherif made his debut as a professional jazz pianist in 1998 when he played with Tunisian jazz musician Fawzi Chekili in many venues and festivals in Tunisia. This was a significant opportunity for Wajdi Cherif to meet and play with international jazz artists on tour in the country back then.
Few months later, Wajdi Cherif played the premiere of a jazz legend, Archie Shepp during the “Jazz in Tunis” festival. Determined to explore the world of jazz piano even further, he traveled to France to meet pianist Bernard Maury at the Bill Evans Piano Academy in Paris where he studied Jazz piano and harmony for few years there. During those years, his meetings with great jazz pianists such as Kenny Werner, Chick Corea Ahmad Jamal, and Martial Solal shaped significantly both his vision of music and of playing piano and Jazz in general.
Wajdi Cherif recorded his first album “Phrygian Istikhbar” in Paris in 2003 accompanied by Diego Imbert on acoustic bass, Jeff Boudreau on drums and Habib Samandi on Arabic percussion. “Phrygian Istkhbar” was finalist in the Indie Acoustic Awards in the USA in 2004 and got positive reviews.