Jazz It Up

, Q&A

How many people have you met who have quit a flourishing job for a passion? Meet Ahmed AlQasim, a jazz musician from Bahrain, who is creating waves all across the Kingdom and GCC with his music

Tell us something about you and your music.

I’m an ear musician who never studied music. I have a degree in banking and finance and was a banker for nine years. I was living a double life for several years, until I decided to quit banking for good in 2014 and become a full-time musician. And this has been the best decision of my life. In addition to my own jazz shows, I am also a member of the Bahraini alternative band, Likwid.

How long have you been playing and singing?

I’ve been playing the bass guitar for 19 years now and have loved singing since I was a child. I took over as a lead vocalist only in 2004 when I was asked to fill the spot for a ‘temporary’ basis for our weekly show. Since then, I have been filling that ‘temporary spot’.

Why Jazz & Blues? Who and what was the reason you got into this style of music?

The main reason that attracted me to jazz is the spirit of freedom it gives, along with the fact that it’s very technical and challenging. Playing jazz is the ultimate expression of one’s feelings, thoughts and emotions. Blues, on the other hand, is a different type of love affair. Nothing picks me up and makes me feel good like a Blues song. I was introduced to Jazz and Blues in my late teens by a Bahraini Latinfusion band called Latin Jazz Ensemble. Two of the members, the Bahraini icon and master percussionist Mirza Al Shareef and the guitarist Nabeel Engineer were mainly responsible for introducing me to jazz.

What was the first instrument you ever picked up/learnt?

Seeing my interest in music, my parents enrolled me in piano lessons. I learnt for a while but moved to something else, like most kids do. But it gave me my first experience of learning and playing a musical instrument.

Which is your personal favourite song to perform?

Lately, I’m hooked on to Kurt Elling’s version of the song Nature boy, but I don’t perform it during every show. It is a more upbeat version of the song and involves a lot of scatting and technical vocal skills.

If you could meet any of the artists you play, who would it be?

Kurt Elling and Bobby McFerrin. Also, I would love to meet Richard Bona, Marcus Miller and Brian Bromberg.

A record you would like to take to a desert island?

‘Beneath The Mask’ by The Chick Corea Elektric Band. It’s a fusion contemporary jazz album released in 1991 that has groovy jazz tracks performed by five of the best musicians on the planet.

Your favourite places to catch live music in Bahrain.

Polo Gastropub in Manama supports local acts by giving beginners a chance to perform. Also, Calexico, one of the newer places in town has a great setup for live music shows. I also like going to jam nights in and around Bahrain to hear musicians of varying skills coming together for sessions.

 By: Abhishek Chakraborty

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