Rabih Abou-Khalil, Rokia Troré and Bojan Z as Keynote Speakers at the European Jazz Conference 2017



Keynote speakers of the European Jazz Conference 2017 in Ljubljana will be three outstanding musicians: Lebanese composer and oud master Rabih Abou-Khalil, Malian award-winning singer and songwriter Rokia Traoré and Serbian pianist and Balkan jazz icon Bojan Z. They will present their views on the theme of the Conference WHAT IF...” and their personal experiences as artists who travelled across borders and cultures and were able to merge these different influences to create something unique.

Two of them will also be involved in concerts during the Opening Gala on Thursday 21 September: Bojan Z will perform with the Goran Bojčevski quintet and Rabih Abou-Khalil will premiere his new album with his trio.

The European Jazz Conference 2017 will take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, between 21 and 24 September at Cankarjev dom cultural/congress centre.

Register at:
Registration fee: 150€

More information: http://www.europejazz.net/project/european-jazz-conference
Detailed programme: http://www.europejazz.net/sites/default/files/EJC_web_double.pdf

Rabih Abou-Khalil
Born in Lebanon, Rabih Abou-Khalil grew up in the cosmopolitan Beirut of the sixties and seventies. He began studying the oud at the age of four. The Lebanese war prompted the young musician to leave his country in 1978. He settled in Munich where he received a classical training at the conservatory.

Rejecting any artistic compromise, Abou-Khalil very early decided to produce his own music. He has been involved in every stage of the creation, from the recording to the graphic design of his record sleeves, a trademark dating back to 1982, the year of his first album Compositions & Improvisation. He worked and recorded with many international renowned musicians including Charlie Mariano, Glen Moore, Glen Velez, Ramesh Shotham, Sonny Fortune, Steve Swallow and Kenny Wheeler.

In his musical universe, he integrated forms previously reserved to classical music: he composed pieces for string quartet and wrote for orchestras such as the Ensemble Modern and the BBC Concert Orchestra. He also wrote several soundtracks, including “Nathan der Weise”, a German silent movie dating back to 1922.

After a long and fruitful collaboration with the German label Enja records, with several flagship albums such as Blue Camel (1992) and Arabian Waltz (1996), the latter recorded with the Balanescu Quartet, Rabih joined for his 20th album one of the house labels of Harmonia Mundi, World Village.

Rokia Traoré
Rokia Traoré is a Victoires de la Musique  award winning singer, songwriter and artist, one of the leading voices in Malian music nowadays. The daughter of a jazz-loving diplomat, she travelled widely in her youth, visiting countries such as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France and Belgium and being exposed to a wide variety of influences. She moved back to Mali in 2009 after living in Europe for several years.

In addition to six studio albums (last one is “Né So” from 2016), she has been involved in various multimedia pieces, including an African-take on Shakespere’s Othello, and was part the 2015 Cannes Film Festival jury.

In 2009 she established Fondation Passerelle, a Bamako-based school that trains young musicians outside the griot system, encouraging professional careers. In 2014 her work with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, took her to Goudoubo camp in Burkina Faso, host to some 10.000 Malian refugees, who fled the conflict in the country’s north. “The crisis is a forgotten one. I came to hear their stories. I came to ask for peace. The rest of humanity cannot allow this to carry on”.

Her new project, “Dream Mandé – Djata”, a musical monologue based on parts of the story of the mandingo epic, will be presented at the Festival d’Avignon in July 2017.

Bojan Z
Multiple award-winning pianist Bojan Z (for Zulfikarpasic) was born in former Yugoslavia in 1968. Starting classical piano lessons at the age of 5, he found himself in the Belgrade rock scene as a youngster, obtained a scholarship at the age of 18 to study jazz with Clare Fischer in the US, to be awarded ‘Best Young Jazz Musician of Yugoslavia’ a few years later. At the age of 20 he left his hometown and settled in Paris, where he established himself as an inevitable element of the French jazz scene.

More than two decades later, he has an impressive record to his name. Apart from being a much sought-after sideman, collaborating with outstanding names like Henri Texier, Michel Portal and Julien Lourau,  Z has made eight albums under his own name. Six of them were released on Label Bleu, covering a wide range of styles and formations. The first three, two quartets and his multi-ethnical project Koreni, resulted in Z’s status as the pioneer who brought Balkan influences into jazz. They were followed by his successful first solo album Solobsession and two trio albums on which he collaborated with contemporary jazz greats from the American scene. His later works have been released on Emarcy/Universal, among which his acclaimed and award winning second piano solo album entitled Soul Shelter, released in February 2012.