United States
Influences: Middle Eastern , North African , West European
Genres: arabic, jazz, oud, maqam, sudanese, moroccan, oud maqam, spanish
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NASHAZ is the end result of leader Brian Prunka’s decades of experience playing both jazz and Arabic music—the band brings together a coterie of New York musicians selected for their abilities to meld jazz and world musics, playing his original compositions.Prior to moving to Brooklyn in 2003, Brian Prunka was living and performing in New Orleans, where he spent his musically formative years honing his musical skills immersed in the jazz community. Always drawn to a wide range of music without regard to boundaries, national or otherwise, it seemed perfectly natural that when fate introduced him to the oud he had an instant and profound connection with this storied instrument. A chance conversation led him to study with the renowned virtuoso Simon Shaheen, who was impressed enough by Prunka’s sincere passion for Arabic music to invite Prunka to perform with him on tour. He founded Nashaz to bring together his love of jazz and Arabic music.Kenny Warren (trumpet):As an improviser, Kenny Warren is rooted in jazz, but for the better part of a decade he has been following his ears all around the globe. Joining the New York City brass band Slavic Soul Party in 2008 led him to study Roma music from the Balkans, as well as Turkish and Arabic Maqam. As a jazz and free jazz musician Kenny has played in bands led by Rob Brown, Tony Malaby, Noah Garabedian, and good friend from his days at SUNY Purchase, Bobby Avey. He has played with The Walkmen, The Budos Band, The Sway Machinery, Devothcka and Spoon, recorded for television and films including “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, has released two records with the experimental rock and jazz collective NOOK, and leads his own roots Americana and singer-songwriter project whose debut record will be available in the fall. http://kennywarren.tumblr.comNathan Herrera (alto saxophone, alto flute, bass clarinet):An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Nathan is an aficionado of many musical traditions, having intensively studied Indian music and Macedonian music in addition to jazz and modern classical music. With Nashaz, he brings all of these elements together into a seamless personal style.Apostolos Sideris (bass):A native of Greece, Apostolos has become well-known in New York for his affinity for traditional and modern Arabic music, performing with Zikrayat, Tareq Abboushi, and others. Equally at home playing jazz or near eastern music, he brings his deep understanding and exquisite musicality to Nashaz in the form of powerful grooves, creative and sensitive accompaniment and impeccable execution.George Mel (percussion):Originally from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, George Mel is the stage name of George Melikishvili. Drawing on his decades of jazz drumming as well as frame drum studies with masters Jamey Haddad & Glen Velez, George has combined many percussion techniques and instruments with a jazz aesthetic, forging a unique hybrid percussion approach which includes the best elements of all the styles while retaining respect for the underlying traditions. Not only does George maintain a busy schedule as a sideman and collaborator with many world-renowned artists across styles and generations, performing in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Blue Note and Smoke, he is also prolific composer and arranger, leading his own Quartet with regular engagements at “Jazz at Kitano,” among other prestigious New York venues. He has released two albums as a leader and composer to rave reviews. Scialla (percussion):A noted protegé of famed Lebanese percussionist Michel Merhej, Vin performs regularly with a wide range of jazz and world music artists, playing Arabic and Indian percussion as well as drum set. Scialla is best known for his innovative fusion of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian and American musical traditions. Inspired by his cultural heritage, combined with his performances and sessions with masters of Arabic and Indian Classical music in New York, he records and regularly tours with rising Indian mandolin virtuoso Snehasish Mozumder, Balkan Stomp, and Mission: on Mars w/ Neel Murgai, when he's not playing with Nashaz. He recently performed at Lincoln Center out-of-doors with Snehasish and Sound of Mandiolin (Random Chance/Liftoff Records).