Land Of Kush is a large orchestra assembled and directed by Montreal composer and musician Sam Shalabi, one of the city’s most unique and prolific players over the past decade. Shalabi performs constantly on electric guitar and oud, with regular appearances in numerous jazz and free improv ensembles, membership in a kaleidoscope of avant rock bands, and at the compositional helm of various musical assemblages large and small. Shalabi has seen a dozen full-length album recordings released in the last eight years, under his own name and with Shalabi Effect (on Alien8Recordings) and as a member of Molasses, Detention, Po, ‘Gypt Gore and Nutsack. His eponymous albums often include genre-defying compositions for larger ensembles and Shalabi has also mounted many live performances and commissioned compositions for hybrid orchestras that have gone largely undocumented. Land Of Kush is among the most ambitious and impressive of these: the group involves over 30 musicians and two dozen different instruments, including a cluster of strings, horns and woodwinds, multiple percussionists, bassists and guitarists, four vocalists, electronics, snyths, darbouka and oud.
Land Of Kush has performed a handful of times in Montreal over the past couple of years. Most recently, the group premiered new works at the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival in June 2008 and at Pop Montreal in October 2008. The Suoni piece, in five movements, was recorded in studio at the invitation of Constellation in late summer 2008 and released as the Against The Day album in spring 2009.
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