An immersive ritual of music rooted in Khaleeji pearl diving traditions meeting South African jazz: Online Concert and Artist Talk.

For this performance, Boom.Diwan will collaborate with and feature special guest pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, the first ever South African musician signed to the legendary Blue Note Records. The two are composing a suite that will be performed as an immersive ritual of music, the visual, and dance that takes into account ideas about the self, the community, and the spiritual in the face of modernity. The music touches on ideas of cosmopolitanism, community, dialogue, and healing.

Founded by applied ethnomusicologist Ghazi Al-Mulaifi, Boom.Diwan is a collaborative global jazz ensemble that revives the cosmopolitan tradition of the Kuwaiti pearl diving music of the Indian Ocean trade. With influences spanning Zanzibar to Calicut, improvisation, fluidity, and dialogue are at the center of Boom.Diwan.
At its core, Boom.Diwan is comprised of Al-Mulaifi on vocals, percussion, and electric guitar and members of the Mayouf Mejally Ensemble, who are the among the oldest and most widely respected pearl-diving music ensembles in Kuwait and the GCC. For this performance, they will be joined by Steven Bedford (NOON) on electric bass, and Claude Cozens on drum kit. Improvisation and cross-cultural collaborations are the foundation of Boom.Diwan’s mission.

This residency is presented with support from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi

“I want to reinvigorate the spirit of dialogue, of cosmopolitanism and exchange,” he says. “What we’re doing is part of that legacy of openness, so that whomever is interested can come here and learn. That’s our mission, to create a Khaleeji musical presence that can have a voice here locally and reach out globally.”
- Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi

Biographies

Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi

Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi, PhD (b. 1977) is an ethnomusicologist who earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Music in Music from New York University (2015). In addition to working as an assistant professor of music for the Public Authority of Applied Education and Training in Kuwait, Al- Mulaifi is also a Venice Biennale artist, composer, global jazz musician, and ensemble leader. His research interests include: Kuwaiti pearl diving music, global jazz, and heritage production. His current musical efforts include the creation of his ensemble Boom.Diwan; where he and traditional Kuwaiti musicians merge Kuwaiti bahri (sea) rhythms with global jazz traditions for the purpose of creating a new Kuwaiti music.

Nduduzo Makhathini

Nduduzo Makhathini grew up in the lush and rugged hillscapes of umGungundlovu in South Africa, a landscape in which music and ritual practices were symbiotically linked. It’s important to note that the Zulu, in fact the African warrior code, is deeply reliant on music for motivation and healing. This deeply embedded symbiosis is key to understanding Makhathini’s vision.
The church also played a role in Makhathini’s musical understanding, as he hopped from church to church in his younger days in search of only the music. The legends of South African jazz are deep influences as well, in particular Bheki Mseleku, Moses Molelekwa, and Abdullah Ibrahim. Through his mentor Mseleku, Makhathini was also introduced to the music of John Coltrane’s classic quartet with McCoy Tyner. “I came to understand my voice as a pianist through John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme,” he says. Active as an educator and researcher, Makhathini is the head of the music department at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape. He has performed at renowned festivals including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the Essence Festival (in both New Orleans and South Africa), as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center where he was a featured guest with Wynton Marsalis. He is a member of Shabaka Hutchings’ band Shabaka and the Ancestors, and has also collaborated with artists including Logan Richardson, Nasheet Waits, Tarus Mateen, Stefon Harris, Billy Harper, Azar Lawrence, and Ernest Dawkins.
Makhathini has released eight albums of his own since 2014 when he founded the label Gundu Entertainment in partnership with his wife and vocalist Omagugu Makhathini. His 2017 album Ikhambi won Best Jazz Album at the South African Music Awards (SAMA) in 2018. His Blue Note debut Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds was released in 2020.