Sharhabil Ahmed is once again crowned ‘The King of Sudanese Jazz’ – on Habibi Funk compilation released next month – it’s jazz, but not as you may know it!

The 13th release from the tastemakers at Habibi Funk is another example from the golden age of Sudanese music – Sharhabil Ahmed’s musical excursions, on a compilation entitled The King of Sudanese Jazz. Sharhabil won the actual title of ‘The King…’ in a competition in the early 1970s. Put your expectations of jazz to one side though, as the genre sounds and is understood very differently in Sudan, ranging from rock ‘n’ roll, funk, surf, Congolese influences, as well as Sudanese rhythms.

The label and the artist connected after the Habibi Funk crew dug Sharhabil’s music, while working on a hip hop project by German producer Pawcut and Sudanese MC, Zen-Zin. Zen-Zin connected the label with his next-door neighbour Mohamed, Sharhabil’s son, who at this point was in the process of moving to New York to pursue his own music career.

“What might feel like a crazy coincidence actually turns out to be some kind of recurring serendipity. It’s only one of many stories, in which the stars align the paths in our favor and make projects possible,” Jannis Stürtz, from Habib Funk, explains.

Here’s the opener Argos Farfish, previously comped by the label, but there’s plenty of fresh material on this one – mostly heard for the first time outside of Sudan on this release. Check out another track Zulum Aldunya here.

Jannis adds: “Contemporary Sudanese music draws a lot of influences both from Arabic musical as well as subsaharan traditions. It is rooted in the madeeh – praising the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h – Ed.) in song. The genre filled out into something quite irreverent in the 1930s and 1940s when haqiba music, the madeeh’s secular successor, caught on.

“Haqiba, a predominantly vocal art in which the musicians accompanying the lead singer use few instruments, spread like wildfire in the urban centres of Sudan. It was the music of weddings, family gatherings and wild impromptu parties. Haqiba drew inspiration from indigenous Sudanese and other African musical traditions in which backing singers clapped along rhythmically and the audience joined in both song and dance.

“The lead singer’s incantations induced a trance-like experience in which spectators swayed along to the rhythm of the beat.”

More on this release to come on WTM.

Check out Bandcamp for more. It’s out on July 10th.

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