Al Jazeera English's Imran Khan talks about how an exciting project with jazz trumpeter Dominick Farinacci came about.
It was a curious sight: a real jazz club in Doha, Qatar.
The country isn't known for its live music scene, and most bands play covers of pop songs to people often sitting at the bar wondering when the band will stop.
But this was something different.
The world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center set up shop in the city, and world-class musicians came to play here.
Playing lead to the whole affair was a brilliant and talented trumpeter named Dominick Farinacci from New York City - a dapper man with decent taste in suits. As Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Global Ambassador, his mission was to bring together artists and audiences of different cultures through the all-inviting art form of jazz.
Farinacci is a famed trumpeter who is known for bringing people together who wouldn’t ordinarily be in the same room and on the same stage, and on this particular night, his cultural diplomacy was in full effect.
I was curious to see what would happen when a Tango group, American Jazz and Syrian orchestral artists all hit the same stage. Turns out I wasn't the only one intrigued by what might happen: the musicians themselves were equally curious, a fact given away when Farinacci said none of them had played together before, and through the spirit of improvisation, they were all learning to find their way.
As they all played, united by music, it was a beautiful sound that seemed to spread across centuries of tradition and many genres coming from the stage. For the next 90 minutes or so I was mesmerized. After the musicians finished, Farinacci came to say “hello.” He was introduced to me via a mutual friend and we chatted about music. I talked about reporting for Al Jazeera English in Iraq and across the region and he expressed an immense interest in learning more about this region of the world.
Over the next 18 months or so I watched him play several more times and saw how he always made a point of getting musicians from the region involved. His initial reaction to Doha was the springboard to wanting to work with other musicians.
“I’ve always found incredible soulfulness in music from this region, but didn’t know much about Doha. I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of a conservative culture and modern and multicultural city full of really interesting and wonderful artists. I also know the power music has as a catalyst to learning about different cultures and developing special relationships.”
When INARA launched a year ago, my first thought to mark our anniversary was to speak to Farinacci and tap into his love of music and the region. He understood the incredible work that INARA was doing to help children injured by war and as refugees. Having made great friends from the region who have experienced unimaginable challenges first-hand, he was keen to help.
The region, its beauty and its troubles had touched the trumpeter and directly influenced his work. His album Short Stories is a journey through four years of travel, and in part pays homage to his time in Doha through a collaboration with artists from the region.
When he offered to dedicate a track from that album to INARA, I was thrilled. Farinacci said: “To me, Parlour Song feels like a beautiful children’s lullaby. I wanted to evoke that sentiment through the music, and I greatly appreciate how INARA has significantly impacted the lives of many innocent kids.”
This is a little gift from Farinacci and INARA to you all.
I hope you enjoy.