"gorgeous intersection of Spanish flamenco, Arabic and Andalusian music, Persian classical, and jazz"
-E.E. Bradman, Bass Player Magazine
Born in the ancient city of Fes, Morocco, internationally acclaimed singer Lamiae Naki and her ensemble Seffarine channel their deep knowledge of the music of both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar, the crossroad where African, Middle Eastern and European cultures meet. From the 9th to 15th centuries these cultures coexisted peacefully, producing a seminal musical alchemy that influenced the foundations of both classical Arabic and European Renaissance music.
In the 21st Century, Seffarine embraces and extends the rich legacy of this golden age of tolerance and exchange between Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures by creating fresh, innovative works reconnecting these shared Mediterranean roots.
Charged with texture and color, Seffarine concerts carry the audience on a vibrant musical journey, channeling the heart-wrenching joy of the music and dance of North Africa and southern Spain to wide acclaim. Described by Bass Player Magazine as a "gorgeous intersection of Spanish flamenco, Arabic and Andalusian music, Persian classical and jazz," Naki's fluid, riveting vocals entwine elegantly with Nat Hulskamp's expert flamenco guitar and oud. Persian classical master Bobak Salehi's sweeping kamancheh (spike fiddle) and tar (Persian lute) play off bassist Damian Erskine's grooves and the drums and explosive flamenco dance of Manuel Gutierrez. Diving deep into the drama and technical prowess that characterizes these traditions, Seffarine invites listeners to hear with fresh ears the age-old conversation that spanned a sea, reminding us of the connections and histories modern identities disguise.
Seffarine has performed at prestigious events and venues around the world, like the Lake Tahoe World Concert, winning over audiences from Indonesia to Spain. They have brought their musical vision and cultural knowledge to community audiences and schools, including a recent tour of rural Montana schools on the Fort Peck Reservation. The ensemble has a strong history of support from the field: in 2017, Seffarine was selected by the Western Arts Alliance as one of three Launchpad Artists. Their debut album, “De Fez a Jerez” was supported by a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, allowing the group to work and record in Jerez, Spain with several of the living legends of flamenco music. The album received international acclaim and placed in the Transglobal World Music Charts top 20 world music releases, selected by a panel of 43 world music experts, and was named one of the “best African albums of 2015” by prestigious African music blog Afribuku.
Seffarine takes its name from the ancient metalworking square in Lamiae's home city of Fes, Morocco. Her family is well known in the Seffarine as master metalworkers continuing the tradition today. The square dates back to the 9th century and is famous for the complex rhythms that can be heard from the blacksmiths' hammers.
They are joined by: Persian master multi-instrumentalist Bobak Salehi (kamancheh/sehtar/violin/tar), world renowned bassist Damian Erskine, flamenco dancer Manuel Gutierrez, versatile drummer from Madagascar Manavihare Fiaindratovo and legendary flamenco percussionist Luís de Perikín, who was featured on Paco de Lucia’s final record and is one of the most sought after drummers in flamenco.
about the artists:
Lamiae Naki (vocals) was born in the city of Fes, the historic cultural capital of Morocco. Fes’ medina or old walled city is the biggest in the Arab world and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is the only functioning medieval city and also the home of the oldest continuously running university in the world. As a center for learning in the Arab world, one can hear in Fes classical Arabic music as well as every kind of traditional Moroccan music, Sufi music, Andalusian music, pop, jazz and hip hop. She was drawn to music from a young age and began singing, writing songs, and using every resource to find new music and influences from widely varying cultures. Lamiae studied Andalusian music and other forms of classical Arabic music in Fes, and has continued to creatively apply her expertise in Moroccan and Andalusi music to many other traditions. She has performed in concerts in the United States, Morocco, Canada, Indonesia and Turkey. Lamiae has also been featured on recordings such as “Hora de Soñar” by Martín Zarzar of the world renowned group Pink Martini and the soundtrack for the film by Alissa Cramer “No Plorar Mai” (USA/Spain/Angola). In 2012 She was awarded a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to travel to Istanbul, Turkey to study classical Turkish singing with master singer Aylin Sengun Tasci. Lamiae now resides in Portland, USA
Nat Hulskamp (flamenco guitar/oud) was born in Portland, OR. He began studying guitar with guitarist/composer Paul Chasman at age seventeen. He was soon introduced to flamenco guitar by Jose Solano. His interest in the influence of Arabic music on flamenco led him to study oud in Morocco. After returning to the US, he moved to Seattle to study ethnomusicology at the University of Washington. There he worked with the groups Carmona Flamenco, The Rez Quartet and others ranging in style from Hungarian Csardas and Gypsy swing to flamenco. In 2004 he moved to Portland and formed the group Shabava with kamancheh/sehtar/violinist and singer Bobak Salehi. Nat has
studied with the top flamenco guitarists of today including, Diego del Morao, Manuel Parrilla, Pepe del Morao, José Antonio Rodriguez and Dani de Morón. In 2012 Nat received a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to travel to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain to continue studying flamenco guitar with the Morao family. He now resides in Portland, composing and performing with Shabava, Caminhos Cruzados and Seffarine.
Recording in Jerez de la Frontera:
a collaboration with the greats of flamenco
"un placer para los oídos - a treat for the ears"
-Javier Mantecón, Afribuku (Spain) Best CD Releases of 2015
The record gained Seffarine international acclaim when it placed in top world music charts around the globe, including Afribuku's Top 13 African Releases and the Transglobal World Music Charts, a panel of 43 world music experts from 28 countries. Spanish music critic Javier Mantecón wrote, "made from in-depth knowledge of the music on both banks of the Strait of Gibraltar, we have to go back to El Lebrijano's experiments with the Andalusian Orchestra of Tangier to find such solid work." Apple Music chose one of the tracks, an homage to the late-great flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla, for the playlist, Inspired by Camarón de la Isla, along with the top artists of flamenco, such as Pepe de Lucia and Tomatito.
De Fez a Jerez continues to receive acclaim internationally which has led to several other recording collaborations in Spain, including flamenco-pop star Sarayma, La Bejazz, a group of flamenco jazz fusion virtuosos from Marchena, Spain, and most recently, recording a Seffarine original with master flamenco guitarist Antonio Rey, who many consider to be the heir apparent to Paco de Lucia's throne and winner of the 2020 GRAMMY for best flamenco record.
Seffarine's debut CD, De Fez a Jerez ("From Fez to Jerez") was named after Nat and Lamiae's well worn path between the two cities. Fez is the ancient cultural capital of Morocco and Lamiae's home city. Jerez is a town in Andalusia, just across the Straights of Gibraltar, well known for being home to many of the great artists in flamenco music. Nat has done much of his training in Jerez with the flamenco guitar masters of the mostly Gypsy neighborhood, Barrio Santiago.
In 2015, Seffarine was awarded a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to travel to Spain to record their original music in collaboration with living legends of flamenco music, including Diego del Morao and Tomasa La Macanita.
After Spanish newspaper La Voz del Sur published an article about Seffarine's recording project, word spread through the barrio and some of the living legends of flamenco came to the studio to check out the project. Seeing the solid background and deep respect for the traditions of flamenco, alongside a fresh approach and creative explorations of the common history and musical roots of Morocco and Andalusia, they enthusiastically offered to collaborate with Seffarine.
What followed were several midnight sessions full of creativity, soulful improvisations and collaborations with these artists Nat and Lamiae have listened to and admired for years.