In 2010, singer & composer Ravid Kahalani founded the rare combination of top musicians we now call Yemen Blues. From the start, Yemen Blues created an original sound that became a new language in contemporary music. The intense musicians hail from NYC, Uruguay & Tel Aviv. This includes the core members: Rony Iwryn, Itamar Doari, Itamar Borochov & Shanir Blumenkranz. Each member comes from a different background and brings their own sound and arrangements to Ravid’s compositions. The result of this amazing group is a powerful energy that mixes Yemenite, West African & Jazz influences. The mambo and North African rhythms create a joyful and deep foundation, while the vocals remind the listener of ancient Arabic chants mixed with funk & blues. For their first album, the group collaborated with the well-known maestro Omer Avital who served as a musical director & producer. Since then, Yemen Blues keeps magic alive with a constant stream of new songs and their world-renowned exciting live performances!!
Dubi Lenz, the well-known Israeli journalist, was the first to listen to Yemen Blues’ music. He immediately felt the power of the project while the band was still in its exploration phase. He helped to get Yemen Blues’ first who at the influential festival and expo – Babel Med – in Marseille, France. It was then that something truly incredible happened. The band received a hugely positive respond from people all over the world and the name “Yemen Blues” began to spread like wild fire. The band was hailed as the biggest success story of the festival by the well-known newspaper Liberation. Since then, Yemen Blues has been called “the most exiting and unique live show you can see” by several news outlets including National Geographic, Time Out Chicago, NPR and many more.
We were amazed and thankful when we started to tour and have performed over 150 shows from 2011-13! These performances have taken place all over the world on some of the biggest and well known stages including: Womex World Expo, Roskilde Festival Denmark, New York Central Park’s Summer Stage, Grand Performances Los Angeles, Millennium Park Chicago, Luminato Toronto Canada and many, many more. Top musicians from around the world are taking notice as well including Kronos Quartet, Oxmo Puccino, Matisyahu and more.. Yemen Blues first album was also named The Best “world music” album of 2011 at “Le Devoir” Canada, and the Best album of 2011 by Sweden’s SvD newspaper.
February 2011 marked Yemen Blues’ first tour – and what a blessing it was. The band transitioned into its new role as the hippest thing in “World Music” scene. The newfound success has seen subsequent tours all over the world – most extensively throughout Canada, USA & Europe. In 2012 Yemen Blues continued their touring, beginning the year by headlining NYC’s “GlobalFEST” – an industry expo and festival featuring the planet’s top ‘world music’ acts. The band followed that up with a tour of China including large-scale shows in Shanghai and Beijing. Later that year, Yemen Blues headlined shows including: the big stage at The Lincoln Center Out Doors NYC, Royce Hall UCLA and many many more of the top stages and greatest festivals all around Europe, Canada & USA.
In 2013 Yemen Blues started in Vancouver with the second year at the big Hutzpah! Festival. After that, it was back to a tour of China including an enormous concert in Shanghai’s main square. Yemen Blues then went to Mexico and did a big summer tour throughout The United States and Canada. The band ended the year with a fall tour that includes sold out shows at the beautiful Koerner Hall, Toronto and a massive 2 shows for adults and children at The Ordway Center in St. Paul MN… The simple message behind Yemen Blues’ music is universality. It is the band members’ love of music that allows this truth to shine through. The band strives to tap into this universality in all of its shows as well as in the workshops they do with children of all ages.
Yemen Blues members are among the world’s top musicians. Each one comes from his own musical universe, which is what makes Yemen Blues so unique! Here is some info about those creative souls and their role in Yemen Blues:
Ravid Kahalani – Founder / Composer / Writer / Leader & singer.
Ravid Kahalani – Singer / Composer / Producer & Performer. Born in 1978 to a Jewish Yemeni family that is known for its singing talent and includes a long line of renowned singers. Ravid has become an important star in the Israeli music scene over the past several years. Via a series of detours, Ravid was drawn to music first and foremost through his love for African-American soul and blues, roots music and traditional religious songs. Ravid’s diverse singing talent instilled an enthusiasm for the music of the Sahara and North Africa. This caught the attention of renowned Israeli singer Idan Raichel and led to Ravid becoming the lead singer in Raichel’s World Music project & had over 400 shows all over the world in the last 5 years. Nowadays, Ravid is a rare guest in Idan Raichel’s shows as YEMEN BLUES’ calendar is completely filled up. Ravid has performed in over 150 shows with Yemen Blues in the last 3 years while still performing with Idan Raichel and many more solo shows on his own. Along the way Ravid has taken part in many projects. He also has studied Opera (singing as a counter tenor), Orthodox Serbian church singing, composing & writing songs in many musical generas. Ravid has composed for and worked with top musicians around the world including Balkan Beat Box, Matiyahu, Oxmo Puccino, Idan Raichel and has been featured on many releases and Radio shows.
Itamar Doari – Percussionist /Arranger / producer.
Itamar Doari is a percussionist specializing in traditional Middle Eastern percussion such as frame drums & dahol / Tabla and many other instruments. Doari started to play at the age of 6 and by the age of 15 he was already performing in large-scale productions all over the world. Doari is also known as having one of the best and most unique percussion set-ups in the world today! He has performed and recorded with top musicians such as Idan Raichel, Avishai Cohen, Bery Saharof and many more…
Rony Iwryn – Percussionist /Arranger / Producer.
Latin Percussion Artist, born in Uruguay. Iwryn music source comes from his roots and that is why Iwryn connection to “World Music” is so strong, Iwryn was playing and recording with many known artists around the world such as Ofra Haza, Idan Raichel, David Broza, Gidi Gov, Yoni Rechter, Lara Fabian, Shir’el just to name a few.
Itamar Borochov – Trumpet /Arranger / Producer.
Described by the Jerusalem Post as “A rising star in today’s jazz music world”, Itamar Borochov brings a unique sound with him wherever he goes. Deeply immersed in the Jazz tradition, Borochovʼs search for his personal roots resulted in an ever-expanding love for Arab and Pan-African musical sensibilities – a natural palette for a trumpeter-composer raised in Jaffa, an integrated Muslim-Jewish-Christian city. Nowadays, Itamar is quickly gaining international recognition as a young Jazz innovator. His music reflects on his rich global-landscape through the Jazz tradition. We canʼt wait to hear where he goes next.
Shanir Blumenkranz – Bass & Oud /Arranger / Producer.
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz — Acoustic Bass, Electric Bass, Oud, Gimbri — Was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1975 to Egyptian and Polish parents. He was given his first instruments, the pots and pans from the kitchen and a three-string guitar at the age of two. Shanir is featured on over 30 releases on John Zorn’s Tzadik record label since 1999 – producing and arranging many of the bands he works with, including Rashanim “The Gathering”, Edom “Hope And Destruction”, and Pitom “Blasphemy And Other Serious Crimes”. Shanir has performed in concert halls and festival stages all over the world, recently joining Yo-Yo Ma for a US tour playing oud and bass with the Silk Road Project. Other activities include performances with Marty Ehrlich (Israel), Miho Hatori (Brazil, USA), Bill Frisell (USA), Cyro Baptista’s Banquet Of The Spirits (Japan, USA, Mexico, EU), Uri Caine (USA), Eric Friedlander (USA), Charles Gayle (USA), Kasu Uchihashi (Japan), Michiyo Yagi (Japan), Makigami Koichi, (Japan, USA), Yoshida Tatsuya’s Ruins (USA), Trey Spruance (EU), Dave Douglas (USA), Steve Coleman (USA), Sylvie Courvoisier (USA), Joey Baron (USA), Mark Feldman (USA), John Zorn’s Masada, Masada Sextet, Electric Masada, Cobra, Masada String Trio (USA, EU), and a special concert with John Zorn for BBC radio (UK).