Guerrilla Radio: Kefaya merges protest and folk music from all over the globe with jazz

Some of the faces in the audience at the Goa Jazz International Live Festival (GIJLF), which took place last month in Bogmalo, looked flummoxed on two occasions — once, when Swiss drummer Jojo Mayer took the stage with his jazz-influenced electronic music band, Nerve; and when Kefaya opened their set with voice samples from news clips, and Middle-eastern melodies quickly followed suit.

With a set-list of compositions laced with South American, Turkish, Afghani rhythms and other folk forms from the subcontinent, Kefaya’s music is hard to categorise. “We are a protest music outfit, researching folk songs from different parts of the world, regarding different struggles. And we work on interpreting this music in a jazz idiom,” says Italian guitarist and founder, Giuliano Modarelli, in a chat after their show at GIJLF, which brought the audience, sceptics and fans alike, to their feet.

Kefaya means ‘enough’ in Arabic, and the unofficial term used to describe the grassroots liberation movement in Egypt that led to the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. ‘Arab Spring’ is not a term Kefaya like to use, though. “The term was created by the Western media to describe the events as one, homogeneous movement. That helps them keep it at a superficial level,” says Modarelli, who formed Kefaya with British keyboard player, Al McSween, in 2010.

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