Local artist creates first Maldivian jazz album, presents to President

The Maldives’ first contemporary jazz album has been presented to President Mohamed Nasheed by Maldivian artist Shameem Mohamed (Shambe).

The album, Feshun, is an arrangement of guitar, saxophone, drums and bass. It also features Maldivian vocalist Mariyam Rifga Rasheed. The group of six musicians, who studied at the International College of Music, in Malaysia, worked on the music collaboratively, said Shambe.

“I created the main idea, but kept the freedom for each and every person to add their own ideas to the composition.”

Shambe, who majored in composition and contemporary jazz at the college, told Minivan News that after graduating from university he wanted to do something new for the Maldivian music industry. “I looked around and realised that the kind of music I was learning and composing wasn’t available in the Maldives. So I decided to put my mother tongue [Dhivehi] over a jazz fusion and call it Maldivian Jazz.”

Shambe said he had originally wanted to do the album with Maldivian musicians, but limited resources forced him to record in Malaysia.”There are some very good musicians in the Maldives,” he said, “but the recording studios here are not advanced enough to match the work being done by other groups today.”

The group began production for the album last October in Malaysia. They played a live concert on Malé in July, and have lately been on break for Ramadan. Shambe reports a good response from his home audience.

Shambe cited  the group Cosmo Squad as an inspiration, and said the album pulls from funk, latino, bossanova, samba and swing styles. He noted that because Dhivehi words are generally short, the group stretched them to create “a more laid back feel.”

“It may sound like it’s not clear, but that’s how it should be in order to feel like jazz. I think the effect will help make the music more accessible to audiences across the world,” said Shambe.

The group’s agent, Mohamed Bassm Adam, told Minivan News that Feshun is targeted for the tourism industry. He thinks the album could encourage other local artists who are interested in Western music styles.

The album has also drawn local attention. Shambe said he was surprised to see a good turnout at the presentation ceremony last night. “I was actually a bit nervous,” he said. The President’s Office reported that the album would refresh the Maldivian music market.

“The President is an admirer of all music genres, especially  jazz and the blues,” said President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair.

Shambe said the group will be returning to Malaysia at the end of August to perform and promote the album. He said he would like to market it globally. “It will take some time to promote it, and I will need guidance and advice, but I hope that with time it will work out.”

Feshun is a product of the Maldives, and copyrighted under Universal Publishing Sdn Bhd (Malaysia). Artist Shameem Mohamed is signed under StarMount Records (Malaysia).

The album is available in music shops and online for rf200, and will soon be available in resorts priced from US$20.’

To listen to sample tracks, visit Feshun’s Facebook page