The mystery of KEM is an original collaboration between the Indian musician Ravichandra Kulur and the Belgian musician Stéphane Galland. Central to this project is the notion ‘Kem’. In ancient Egypt, ‘Kem’ means the color Black, like the black mud or ‘limon’ of the Nile. It represents fertility and sheds a strikingly positive light on the colour, which is often perceived as negative or “evil”. It is out of that symbolic earth that the Mystery of KEM grows new rhythmical aspects whose schemes, “dances” and improvisations take root in the Yin and Yang complementarity of even and uneven rhythmical pulses.
Central to this project is Ravichandra Kulur, one of the most prominent Carnatic Flute players in the world from South India. He previously collaborated with i.a. Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar. The contribution of Ravichandra Kulur is of an immensely valuable importance as he introduces profoundly rich elements from his Eastern musical heritage. Ravi has developed a unique style of playing the Carnatic flute and plays rare South Indian ragas in complicated rhythmic cycles. As such, he enriches the project with bold new ideas, colors and sound.
For this musical journey, Kulur is accompanied by Stéphane Galland and surrounded by the most daring and talented of young Belgian musicians: Sylvain Debaisieux (sax), Bram De Looze (piano) and Federico Stocchi (bass).
Stéphane Galland has recently toured with French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf on the “Red & Black Light” project, and this year, he celebrates 25 years of concerts and more than 20 albums with the band Aka Moon. He has led an impressive range of unique collaborations with some of the best musicians from their respective cultural traditions (Balkan, Flamenco, Turkish, Armenian, African) in his previous project “LOBI”. This project was considered by the French specialized press as a “masterly example of what World Jazz should be,” and got some of the highest awards by jazz critics in Jazz Magazine, Jazz News, Le Soir, and many others.
Multicultural encounters and the enrichment of his own musical language and skills have clearly always been Stéphane Galland’s major source of inspiration. With the Mystery of KEM, he ventures to the rhythmical roots of all the musical traditions that he has previously encountered and integrated into his own language. He explores a space that allows the integration of all these concepts without a priori or stylistic limitation.
Stéphane Galland’s enthusiasm for his collaboration with Ravichandra Kulur is immediately apparent:
“I have heard of Ravi Kulur through internet, and was immediately amazed by his flute playing, characterized by a tremendously sensitive and intelligent musicality, extreme precision and unbelievable skills.“
The project KEM had its premiere on 8 September 2017, during the Marni Jazz Festival, to widespread critical and popular acclaim. Words of praise have been written in amongst others, ‘Jazzques’ and ‘Jazz around’.
Welcome to the black and mysterious earth of KEM.