The idea of this group was born from Matona´s desire to return to the roots of the traditional music of his childhood: the sounds and music played by the many inhabitants from Comoro who lived around Stone Town.
Mgodro Group, which was formed in 2013 by the DCMA Artistic Director Mohamed Issa (Matona). Mgdoro Group specializes in writing its own compositions from the intermingling flavours and traditions of the variety of musical forms emanating from the islands of : Cormoro, Mayotte, Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius: music which is composed from the styles: Chakacha, mgodro, salege, soga, maloya, chigoma, dumbadori and mbiwi. These musical traditionscelebrates religion, culture and brotherhood and was once extremely popular in Zanzibar but has more recently been lost and forgotten.
The Mdodro band has played at ZIFF 2013, performed in Nungwi as part of a DCMA/Busara collaborative project; performs weekly in Zanzibar, and has also performed in Dar es Salaam. It hasswiftly become extremely popular with a repertoire of musical compositions which are unique and enjoyed by many .
Mgodro has recently expanded and is ready to launch and present a thoroughly enjoyable range of compositions for 2014 / 2015.
Tibirinzi All Stars - Pemba
The DCMA´s main base is in Stonetown yet is also has branches in both Pemba and Mahonda. The DCMA has provided training for Pemba musicians to become teachers and has also trained the artists to help educate the children of the island in it´s musical performing heritage.The teachers, students and artists relish the opportunity to form artistic partnerships to enjoy playing the traditional music of each unique area. These opportunities unfortunately can be rare, especially in the case of the Pemba branch since traveling can be an obstacle.
Pemba hosts some well known and highly talented, original musicians and composers yet they are rarely seen performing and have been not been heard of for quite some time. The composition, direction and rehearsals of the band will be conducted by the DCMA Artistic Director: Mohamed Issa (Matona). The band will be composed of the main DCMA Unguja students playing alongside their Pemba colleagues and musicians
SAFAR is an Afro Taarab group started 2005 by Mr Ibrahim Khatib, the first DCMA Artistic Director from Palestine, Adel Dabo Board member and Matona Mohamed the first DCMA Head Teacher. The band was a combination of teachers and advanced students. SAFAR group is one of the DCMA´s most established groups and is the premiere international group (following Baladna).
SAFAR is the first teachers group established at the DCMA performing music in the traditional Taarab genre. The idea of SAFAR is to inspire younger musicians who like to play taarab or traditional instrument in Afro, Western or modern styles and the idea have produced swift and positive responses. SAFAR has performed at national and international arenas: ZIFF festival, Jahazi Jazz festival in Zanzibar and other events in Tanzania such as Alliance Francaise in Dares Salaam etc. In 2009 SAFAR performed in Comoro with the "Song of the Moon" project which was designed to revive Taarab in the Comoro Island. This project also opened the doors for the DCMA to perform in Mayotte and SAFAR played there with the great taarab female artist Lima Wilde.SAFAR has performed and recorded with rapper and slams singer Ahamada Smith, French Comorian producing the album ´Origens´. SAFAR has played with the group " kerlen Pond " twice in France: in Klegereg, Bretagne, as well as in Zanzibar. ´Bombard´ and SAFAR have also produced an album. Recently Safar played La Reunion at the "La FoireMascaregne" festival. The group is lead by Adel Dabo and Mohammed Issa Haji "Matona".
Kiki Kidumbaki - Mahonda
As far back as then 1950´s most regions of Zanzibar and every street in Stone Town had at least 1 taarab group or kidumbak group. Sadly the situation is such that the only remaining thriving kidumbak and Taarab groups playing the sounds of the 50´s is based in Mahonda at the Mahonda Club, a venture which commenced in 1993.
The DCMA joined forces with Mahonda when the leader of the group, the late Mr Ali Baramia approached Ms Hilde Kiel, ex CEO of the DCMA, requesting support to advance the musical progress of the group. From this encounter the Mahonda annex of the DCMA was formed which, under the sponsorship of UNESCO provides advanced training for teaching representatives, artists and musicians as well as the purchase of instruments, maintenance of the school buildings and other sundry needs. Under this umbrella of support the KIKI Kidumbak group performed regularly in Mahonda and Stone Town but since the funds dried up the last 2 years and whilst the DCMA was struggling to survive financially the support for Kiki dropped by 90%. Fortunately, the musicians love of the music sustained the group and Kiki has managed to continue.
Kiki has become the most respected and actively performing kidumbak group in Zanzibar. It has the reputation of performing the REAL kidumbak as opposed to many groups which have adapted the tradition and lost its former form and uniquely original flavour. Thanks to this adherence to traditional form, the group have won three awards in 2014: one from the Zanzibar Revolutionary Conquest for traditional Music, another from the Conquest of the Union Celebration and one from the Siti Bin Saad competion.
Artists are from the DCMA student body and are all under 25. The DCMA Young Stars was established 6 months ago to perform at the World music festival at Dar es Salaam. The band features a diversity of styles and instruments and it´s the first local Fusion group to perform the unique combinations of: Taarab, dance, African, Latin genres. The band performs locally to appreciative audiences at: Gymkhana Club, Police mess and Burudani Kwaraju. In addition the band has played for Alliance Francaise in Dar es Salaam for World Music day and Siti Bint Saad Pavilion at Forodhani Gardens.
Sema Jazz Quintet
Is a group consisting of Five Musicians. The Quintet is a Swahili continental jazz & blues band. Comprising pianist Suleiman Makame, flautist Rajab Suleiman, guitarist Abeid Mussa and bassist Darwesh Mrisho. The quintets music combines elements of modern Avant- garde jazz with swing and blues influences. Interpretating own arrangements of celebrated jazz standards such as Frank Sinatras medium swing "Fly Me to the Moon", an instrumental version of Sonny Rollins´ "Tenor Madness" but also Duke Ellingtons poetic "In a Sentimental Mood".
"Our aim is to make the musical arrangements variously exciting but highly enjoyable at the same time, because this is what jazz is all about", the quintet itself. Furthermore the quintet plays their own compositions, in which the fusion of African, Arabic and modern jazz is hearable.
Baladna Taarab Group
The teachers and students of the Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA) come from different traditional music groups and represent the finest musicians Zanzibar has to offer. Within the context of the school the teachers have gathered to form a new and unique group: Baladna Taarab. This ensemble specializes in instrumental performances akin to a chamber orchestra, featuring oud, ganun, accordion, violin, percussion, nay and occasional guest singers.
They are constantly exploring new repertoire and go back to traditional Arabic pieces without losing their uniquely Swahili flavor. They rehearse and perform wherever possible in an acoustic setting where the fine nuances of the instruments are brought out in the best possible light and special emphasis is put on the development of their "taqsim" (instrumental improvisations).
Afro Jazz Fusion Group
DCMA's Afro Jazz group was established in 2008.
The group consists of 8 musicians who perform a combination of traditional and western instruments including: acoustic drum, bass guitar, keyboard, ganun, violin, guitar and shanshi - an instrument from Japan. The group performs its own compositions.
Public performances include 4 years of performance at ZIFF - as well as different hotels and venues in Zanzibar.