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Yehya Khalil

Cairo, Dec 8th, 2001 --A legend in his own time. He is one of the most respected and talked about drummer, bandleader, creative producer, star maker and jazz musician, a phenomenon in the music scene today.

At the age of four, in his home country Egypt, he used to drum on any household item he could find; tables, chairs, kitchen utensils and make beautiful music to the ears. When he reached thirteen he formed the first jazz band in Egyptian history, Cairo Jazz Quartet. This musical group, his contemporaries say, `inspired all other jazz and western music groups of today'.
In 1965, at the age of twenty one, when his band had reached its zenith of popularity in Egypt, Yehya Khalil decided to go to America to study, play and meet all those musical giants he heard play, when he was still very young, over the waves through "Voice of America's - Jazz Club" radio program. He did just that. He stayed fifteen years studying and drumming in the United States.

In America he joined the American Music Conservatory for two years, after which he was tutored for five years by the legendary percussionist Roy Knapp, acquiring a Diplomat in percussion. Mr. Knapp has taught many musicians that later on turned out to be real superstars like Gene Krupa.

Yehya Khalil also toured America with a succession of American jazz, soul, blues and country bands. Bands like "Friends and Lover", "Raspitin Stach", "Richard Berry" and many others.

He has also played with such jazz legends as Oliver Jones, Dave Young, John Lee, Van Freeman, James Moody and Dizzy Gillespie with whom he had also recently performed with at the opening of the Cairo Opera House in 1989.

In 1979, Yehya returned to his homeland. He immediately canvassed the country for the best talents and formed his own group. Music critics describe Yehya's group as `The best blend of musical talents ever assembled together'.

Khalil, indeed a master percussionist, a phenomenon, a man to whom playing drums is second nature. His special technique is creating different types of rhythms simultaneously all tied together in one harmonious fashion. This technique in addition to his combination of western instruments applied to new Egyptian melodies almost immediately caught the imagination of the young crowd, serious jazz, and rock fans, and Cairo's modern music lovers.

Not only was it the mere introduction of western instruments to the Egyptian melody, but, it was Yehya's unique fusion of Jazz and Arabic music, that made his sound different and much more appealing to his listeners.

Some people think western instruments cannot express the meaning and feelings of Egyptian people, Yehya Khalil's Group proved in their success that this is not so.

Yehya Khalil has played in ore than 20 countries and 100 cities, giving over 5--- concerts and events around the world in the last 40 years.

He also has his own music program "World of Jazz", shown of the Egyptian Television -Channel II- every Friday at midnight and will release his first live Jazz CD in Egypt titled "Rhythm of the Soul".

Yehya's likable personality, his flair for showmanship, and his outstanding performances, made him not only a star, but a matinee idol as well, changing the image of jazz music and jazz musicians in Egypt forever.

It is no wonder then, that Khalil is considered to have pioneered yet another popular highly artistic musical form in Egypt during 1980's and 90's.

As part of Egypt's recognition to this artist extraordinaire, the American University in Cairo has selected him in 1998 to be on the cover of the poster of their campaign named "READ" for which they selected Mr. Naguib Mahfouz in 1996 (Noble award winner in art/literature), and Mr. Omar Sharif in 1997 (Legendary Movie Star), to promote literacy and the pursuit of art and culture.

In addition, the pioneering Egyptian Satellite Channel, Nile TV, having observed his immense and growing popularity has done a documentary film about him and his contributions to the music scene in Egypt titled "The Jazz Man", which has been repeatedly featured due to its popular demand.

Yehya Khalil continues to lay regularly all year round at the Cairo Opera House drawing more crowds as time goes by and as more art and music lovers enjoy his breathtaking performances.

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