“Venues depend on what is the most profitable thing to do, rather than delivering art,” said Hisham ‘Blues’, Bad Mojo’s lead vocalist. Musicians and fans in Cairo have long been frustrated by venues that covet profitability at the expense of delivering a high-quality live performance. In addition, some fans find it uncomfortable attending shows in venues associated with alcohol, while young fans are unable to enjoy some live shows due to age restrictions.
Tamer Mustafa and his partners believe they have found the solution, a home for jazz, a place they believe is missing in Egypt. Jazz Mate, in Zamalek, is a alcohol-free venue devoted to the popular rhythmic music, which originated in New Orleans. Pictures of icons hanging on a brick wall, sentimental tunes playing in the background, and a TV playing jazz concerts or documentaries complete the setting of Jazz Mate. The venue will have performances every Friday, although Mustafa said they are seeking to host live music on a more frequent basis.
Mustafa believes jazz music is extremely underrated in Egypt and the profoundness of the genre is neglected. He seeks to uphold the music, not only by hosting professional musicians but also by creating an opportunity for rising talents to perform. “As long as they acquire good musicianship they are more than welcome on stage,” said Mustafa.
“Venues focus on hosting DJs because this is what generates a higher profit for them,” complained Ahmed Nazmi, a prominent Egyptian jazz bassist. Mustapha agrees and so Jazz Mate features live bands performing jazz only; hosting DJs is out of the question.
Mustafa and his partners dreamt of owning a music bar since 1995, but they were caught up by their daily jobs, until one day they figured it was not difficult to go for it. The opening of Jazz Mate was on 7 September, featuring performance by Noha Fekry and Amro Salah Trio. “A place in Egypt dedicated only to jazz; it is like a dream,” said Noha.
Jazz Mate offers American cuisine, where the price on the menu is the price you pay. Mustafa believes that the tax-inclusive price on the menu is a customer-oriented approach. “I realised what annoys me personally when I hangout at places, and I made sure such things do not happen at Jazz Mate,” said Mustafa.
Many musicians along with Nazmi consider Jazz Mate a step forward in the music scene in Egypt. “I was fascinated when I performed at Jazz Mate because I love to perform in places where people come to listen rather than just to party,” Nazmi added. Jazz Mate is the place where jazzaholics can unwind in a cozy atmosphere.