Faraj Suleiman

Palestine
“Faraj Suleiman is One of the most talented composers of the moment.”
- Le Figaro

Artist information

This october 26th! Faraj Suleiman is ready to perform at the Womex festival in Tampere! Direct link.

FARAJ SULEIMAN (1984) is a Palestinian composer and pianist. Born in a village in the upper Galilee, Suleiman has been playing the piano since the tender age of three. His music is strongly influenced by Arabic/Eastern melodies and rhythms. His penchant for Arabic scales and modalities smoothly blends with his inspiration from tango and jazz traditions to create a uniquely captivating sound. Regardless of playing solo at the legendary Montreux Jazz festival in front of a big crowd or with his power quintet, he simply enchants the audience.

As an Arab musician/pianist trained in classical music, he constantly searches for new forms of expression to equally appeal to his "Eastern" and "Western" listeners. To date, Suleiman composed several albums which have placed the "Eastern" piano in the centre of the composition, ranging from solo piano compositions to quartets, quintets, arrangements for choir and full orchestras. Influenced by his passion for Arabic music and eastern rhythms, it’s both Suleiman’s groundbreaking original compositions as well as his compelling renditions that have led him to become one of the leading composers of the Arab world.

In the past five years, he has released five albums alongside numerous stunning works with poets, theatres and musicals. Currently based in Paris, he is gearing up to release his next album that features Suleiman’s own written compositions and lyrics.

He released a number of albums and musical projects such as : "Login", "Three Steps", "Mud", "Opening of the Palestinian Museum", "Al-Bashiq", "Love in the Cloud", "Once Upon a City”, "Love Without a Story”, “Toy Box” and lately his first songs album “Second Verse”.

For additional information about Faraj Suleiman please see below:

When Faraj Suleiman was born 35 years ago under the Galilean sun, nothing predisposed this son of a toy dealer and florist who became the first jazz pianist in Palestine. "In my close circle of friends, only a motherly uncle played Arabic music on the violin, and up to the age of 5 or 6 I remember spending a long time with him," recounts the composer, who currently lives in the Cité des arts in Paris. This uncle will be the only little melodic hook in the childhood of the young Faraj, far away from the concert halls and music newspapers that are part of his daily life today. Between the ages of 6 and 18, the football matches on the village square of Ramy will take up most of his time before music reappears at the time of his higher education. "I was interested in law and psychology. But at Haifa University I had a crucial meeting. "Arie Shapira, an Israeli music teacher, takes him under his wing. "We talked not only about technique and harmony, but also about philosophy. We discussed everyday life, relations between Palestinians and Israelis.... He made me understand that if I wanted to be a musician, I couldn't separate, my story, the music I played.... and that I had to be curious. "The young pianist then met other masters: Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, but also John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Keith Jarrett.

A unique phrasing at the turn to an unforgettable solo. He does not forget the advice of his Israeli teacher and also eagerly explores the repertoire of Arabic music. The result corresponds to the effort. Last year Faraj Suleiman was invited to perform on the renowned stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival. The audience discovered in an unforgettable solo a unique phrasing in which the artist showed the "all-world" that inhabits him. A long escape, in which the nostalgia of an oriental ballad clings without collision to the subject born of a Bach fugue, while a brutal tension soon catches up when the young man epileptically strikes the keys of his keyboard in tango rhythm. But this supposed expressiveness was not always the prerogative of this man, who now dreams of sharing the stage with the Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf. "At my first concert in Haifa in 2013, I felt so uncomfortable that I think I had committed the most catastrophic piano performance in history," smiles the young musician. At the next concert Faraj opted for a radical remedy: "I started drinking a few beers before I went on stage. It freed me..." The method is not very academic for a young man of Muslim culture, but it works. "My parents want me to come home and get married, but I don't want it. What I want is for the piano to become a Palestinian instrument. On stage I let my life and what surrounds me guide me... the music comes by itself, I even sometimes start dancing around my piano. I also take a lot of energy from the cities I walk through. I lived in Haifa, also in Jerusalem, where the war is down the street from your house. I've been living in Paris for six months.... It's another story. An opera might come out one day," concludes the man who has recorded four albums in recent years, the fifth of which is currently financed by crowdfunding.

Watch Faraj Suleiman (Solo) @ Montreux Jazz Festival 2018 on Youtube

Watch Faraj Suleiman (Quintet) - Naughty Boy on Vimeo