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Ali Hassan Kuban

Ali Hassan Kuban (by Martin W. Riedel)
  • country:Egypt
  • region:Orient
  • style(s):
    • Egyptian
    • Nubian
  • label:Piranha Records
  • type: Solist, Composer/Songwriter
  • gender:male
  • instrumentation:instrumental, vocal

From a self-taught musician exploring his Nubian people’s musical roots to a professional, successfully leading his various bands into new, vibrant, international pop territory – Ali Hassan Kuban became an international star when his music finally went global in the 1980s.



When it comes down to it – what is the whole world but one great big Nubian wedding? When the Godfather of Nubian Soul made his entry into old Europe via the Heimatklänge festival’s ‘Orient de Luxe’ edition in 1989, his dynamic live act fit Berlin’s music-driven all-night parties of the days perfectly – just as perfectly as the thousands and thousands of Nubian weddings he played until his death.

Ancient Nubian melodies, played on a background of pulsating Western beats and sounds that draw from American jazz and international pop – Ali Hassan Kuban served as one of the founding fathers of the musical breed we knew and loved as world music in the earliest days of the genre: the old and the new! The weddings and the concert hall! The East and the West! The roots and all kinds of blossoms – whatever may come!

He was a colourful personality with a colourful story. Born in a small village in Upper Egypt, young Ali Hassan Kuban had learned the clarinet and bagpipes intuitively and informally. Only after becoming part of the growing international drift to the cities was he able to hone his natural musicianship into a professional skill. Starting out as an apprentice tailor in Cairo’s vibrant Abdin district, a traditional magnet for migrating Nubians, he went on to master the pentatonic Nubian roots repertoire and became one of the most popular wedding musicians in Egypt.

And so it was until he overheard a band of jazz musicians from Harlem from the pavement outside the Gezira Sporting Club – then everything changed for real. In came the bass, keyboards and brass, the music got pop muscles and a funky beat. With a couple of huge domestic hits like ‘Sukkar Sukkar Sukkar’ and ‘Amira’, Ali Hassan Kuban, the former traditional wedding musician became a household name in Egypt, the leader of a new generation of musicians equally taken with their specific cultural roots and the crossover thrills of international pop.

From this, he made his entry into the international festival circuit, playing at Heimatklänge (1989), Midem (1993), WOMAD (1994), the Montreal Jazz Festival (1994), and New York’s Central Park SummerStage (1995), establishing his reputation as a crucial originator of the global music boom.

Within those ranks, the realm of the genre’s hall of famers, through his colorful life and prolific career and long after his passing away at 72 in 2001, his star keeps shining brightly.

Line up

  • Abdelrazik Abdalla Mohamed Ali  (Alto Sax)
  • Ali Hassan Kuban (lead vocals)
  • Bibi Hammond (bass, keyboards)
  • Guma Ismail Adam (sax (tenor))
  • Hassan Machmud Said Halim (darabukka)
  • Hassan Meky Mohamed Goma (accordion)
  • Nasreldin Shalaly Hussein (vocals)
  • Samir Gomaa (bongos)

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