Yemen Blues is a collective of nine musicians who mix traditional Yemenite sounds with flavors of jazz, blues, funk and West African grooves. Their music is ignited by the diverse range of instruments in their group. Trombone, trumpet, flute, viola, cello, oud, bass, gimbri, percussion and vocals round out the sound of this adventurous band. Ravid Kahalani, a Yemeni Jew, started the band in 2010. He brought musicians together from Israel, New York, and Uruguay to play in his ensemble. He learned the language as well as the Yemeni chants of his ancestors and met up with Omer Avital, who is the musical director of the group, to form Yemen Blues.
“Yemen Blues is a language you will understand no matter where you come from,” singer Ravid Kahalani says. “It is my origin and my influences all together as well as meeting with this group of amazing musicians.”
Ravid believes in creating “moments of soul” for the audience, swooping from clear falsetto into a gravelly baritone, switching from Yemenite Arabic to Hebrew to Haitian Creole. Yemen Blues’ music is a celebration of the past with a healthy dose of modern influences that create a variety of sound. See them perform “At Va’ani” live at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley below. Another fine ensemble that will no doubt turn heads at globalFEST 2012.