andalusian calligraphy of granada’s alhambra palace adorns al-andalus ensemble andalusian music biographical site of tarik & julia banzi


“A delightful proposition of exquisite music” -El Pais, Madrid, Spain
Winners of the JPFolks "Peoples Grammy Award" for “Best World Music Song of 2009”
"Vox Pop Award" for "Best Contemporary Classical Album of 2010"

Tarik & Julia Banzi, Al-Andalus Ensemble  

The core of the Al-Andalus Ensemble is the married couple Tarik and Julia Banzi. Similar to the Renaissance that inspires them, they are scholars, musicians and artists whose lives reflect their commitment to create peaceful understanding between the East and the West. The Banzi's present historically informed performances of Andalusian works and also create new compositions, rooted in the Andalusian legacy. They bring their fresh and invigorating instrumental style to the stage and genuinely connect with audiences of all ages. The Banzi’s unique music bridges world, traditional contemporary and classical genres. In the United States, Spain and North Africa, Tarik and Julia Banzi's devotion to creating peaceful understanding between the US & the Arab world and amongst Christians, Muslims & Jews has significantly contributed to the politics of the region and set the trend for what is now a blossoming Andalusian music Renaissance. Their latest CD 21 Strings is in the 2010 Grammy Pool. The title track from their album Alchemy won the JPFolks "Peoples Grammy Award" for the “Best World Music Song of 2009.” It was selected by music professionals and fans alike from over 560,000 songs entered from 163 countries around the world in what is the world's largest Independent Music Awards Just Plain Folks Music Awards. 21 Strings was Awarded the "Vox Pop" Award fro the "Best Contemporary Classical Album of 2010" in the 9th annual Independent Music Awards program.

TARIK BANZI (Ph.D.,composer, multi-instrumentalist) traces his roots back to Al-Andalus, Spain. He was born to one of the founding Andalusian families of Tetuan, Morocco. Tarik is a direct descendant of refugees from who fled Granada, Andalusia and is intent on keeping this centuries-old musical and poetic traditions vibrant and alive today. Tarik grew up immersed in the Andalusian musical tradition. Mr. Banzi later lived in Spain and collaborated with flamenco and Jazz masters such as Paco de Lucia, Manolo Sanlucar, Enrique Morente, Jorge Pardo ... Tarik introduced mainstays to modern flamenco such as the darbuka (clay or metal drum) and Udu (clay pot drum). Mr. Banzi’s diversity can be seen in the works of classical, jazz, folk, new age, rock and world music artists. Tarik has composed scores of soundtracks for cinema & film including Delirios de Amor (Felix Rotaeta, starring Antonio Banderas), Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Henry IV, Othello, Bodas de Sangre (Garcia Lorca) and Salome’ (Oscar Wilde).  Whether opening for speeches by  Archbishop Desmond Tutu or playing onstage with Nasrollah Moein or Radio Tarifa, Tarik moves with grace and ease between tradition and innovation.  Tariks solo album Vision explores the oud,quintessential classical Arabic music instrument in a series of solo improvisations, duets, quartets and innovative uses of the oud. Tarik is an accomplished visual artist who completed his Doctoral studies in Fine Arts at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. His artwork is included in collections throughout the world.

JULIA BANZI (Ph.D., guitarist, ethnomusicologist) The world of guitar boasts few women who ignite the sound of the guitar, and in the flamenco culture, even fewer still. Julia lived in Spain for over a decade where she established herself as one of a very few female flamenco guitarists worldwide. In Andalucia, and later at Madrid’s Amor de Dios studios, Julia worked accompanying notable dance instructors and studied with some of Spain’s finest guitarists including Manolo Sanlucar, Isidro Muñoz, David Serva, Felipe Maya and Juan Maya “Marote.” Her passion for flamenco led her to explore its roots. She holds a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Julia’s work reflects her many years of living, studying and performing throughout the world. She teaches guitar at Reed College and Lewis & Clark College. She is a devoted teacher, composer and performer who truly enjoys working with students. Whether in flamenco, folk or classical, Julia provides students with a solid foundation on the guitar while guiding students toward creating original music they can call their own. At all levels, from learning to play their favorite songs to accompanying flamenco dancers, Julia prepares students with both solo and ensemble skills and toward a lifetime of enjoyment and proficiency on the instrument. Fluent in Castellano, Julia instructs in both English & Spanish (as per request).   Here is are some short articles Avatar & Flamenco Guitar and Breath written for the local Portland Guitar Society.

CHARLIE BISHARAT (violinist) A Grammy Award-winning performer, Mr. Bisharat’s work has graced the albums of such pop phenoms as Alanis Morissette, The Rolling Stones, Jane’s Addiction, and Aerosmith. His diversity can be heard on the works of Jazz and World Music artists Strunz & Strunz & Farah, Don Grusin and Oscar Castro-Neves. His accomplishments have been featured in scores of soundtracks from Swordfish Texas Rangers, Steal Big Steal Little to on-screen performances of Austin Powers Gold Member, The Drew Carey Show and Friends. His range of styles has led him from pop to jazz to classical. He has toured the world time and again with groups as varied as Los Angeles Philharmonic, Shadowfax, Kitaro, Yanni, Los Angeles Chamber Orchesta, John Tesh. He has composed and produced tracks for record-setting album projects as well. His works for small ensembles range from the original opus Lying In Wait by the all-female quartet Cello, to string arrangements for rock guitarist Andy Summers of the Police.

EMILY MILES (Voice) is one of Portland’s up-and-coming young singers. She grew up in Seattle, and later spent time living and studying in the Canary Islands, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College where she completed research on the Cuban hip-hop movement and the music of the Farmworker Movement, two projects that deepened her understanding of music as a powerful tool of social change, organization and cultural dignity. Emily brings a distinctly North American element to the Al-Andalus Ensemble, adding American roots and blues influences to the group’s already multicultural repertoire.

BOUJEMAA RAZGUI (ney, vocals, kamanja, percussion) hails from Marrakech, Morocco, where he studied the ney with local masters. Boujemaa first joined Tarik & Julia Banzi in Madrid in 1987 in the early days of the Al Andalus Ensemble. Boujemaa is a ney virtuoso who has since gone on to perform and record witih the likes of Shakira, Cirque de Soleil and, Beyonce. In addition to his work with the Al Andalus Ensemble, Boujemaa is a regular with the Boston Camarata. Razgui made his first public appearance as flutist with the Marrakech Orchestra of Modern Music and went on to play in different groups accompanying national singers of Morocco. Razgui is a multi-instrumentalist who is also fluent in percussion, upright violin, and many indigenous Moroccan instruments.

LAURA DUBROCA (Modern Andalusian Dance) Born in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to French ex-patriot parents, Laura has lived in Venezuela, Qatar, Indonesia and France, taking diverse cultural influences from each of the countries she has called home. She began classical ballet studies at an early age and later discovered her love of flamenco .She has studied flamenco dance with Manolo Marin, Milagros Menjibar, Carmen Ledesma and Rafael Campallo in the Fundación Cristina Heeren de Arte Flamenco in Sevilla and with Manuela Ríos, Adela Campallo, Juana Amaya, Pastora Galvan, and Angeles Gabaldon. She lives in Madrid, Spain where she is a regular performer in the flamenco peñas La Perla de Cadiz, Asociación Cultural Antigua Sevilla, Espacio Temporal, Agua Fresca and in concerts with international harpist Meko.

JORGE PARDO (saxophone and flute) is one of flamenco's most innovative instrumentalists. Introduced to the world of professional flamenco at the hands of Paco de Lucia, Jorge Pardo has developed a new hybrid language between jazz "de raiz" ("from the roots") and flamenco. His style and technique on both flute and the sax is blazing new trails in this constantly developing music. In addition to his work in Paco de Lucia Sexteto Jorge has collaborated with nearly every major figure in the world of flamenco. His resume includes concerts and recordings with Chick Corea and Astrid Gilberto. Further exploring the outer reaches of the rhythms of flamenco, Jorge is also a longtime collaborator with the rocking flamenco band Ketama and La Barberia del Sur. Known for his fluid and relaxed approach to the flute and tenor and soprano saxophones. Jorge was born in Madrid in 1955. He started his studies at the Conservatory of Madrid at the age of 14. From very early on in his career he immersed himself in jazz and was one of the founding members of the group Dolores (together with Pedro Ruy-Blas). Today, Jorge is regarded as one of the true leaders of a style of music that fuses flamenco with jazz. He is among the elite group of jazz figures from Spain with an international following.

Al-Andalus Ensemble (to view/print click on right menu) This contemporary World-chamber trio of oud, violin and guitar moves with grace between the classical and the modern, subtly weaving tradition with sophisticated innovation into an energetic musical tapestry performed with a freshness and originality that has earned the Al-Andalus Ensemble a devoted international audience. For festival settings, the Al-Andalus Ensemble expands with additions of modern Andalusian dance as well as trumpet, vocals, piano, bass and drums for a vital, energetic and absolutely beautiful experience. 

Charitable Work The members of the Al-Andalus Ensemble generously donate to causes they believe in and are very active in their own local community as well as worldwide organizations.  They play regularly at charity events including Amnesty International, Mercy Corps International, Witness, World Affairs Council, United States Organization for Educational & Medical Needs (US-Omen) Mosaic Foundation, Friends of Sabeel, Lutheran World Relief, The Elders, Foundation for Peace in the Middle East, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, United Nations Association, Rotary International, The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, Bread for the World,   as well as Young Audiences   throughout the world.

Additional Ensemble Members

ANTHONY JONES(Drums) Anthony is considered one of the best young drummers on the West Coast. He is the younger brother of the bandleader Eldon “T” Jones. They come from a very talented musical family. In high school he also won numerous awards playing the trumpet. The Oregonian has praised “the fluidly funky authority of Anthony Jones” describing him as “surely one of the best young drummers in the Northwest” (The Oregonian).

GAVIN BONDY (Trumpet) Gavin is a native of Portland, OR and is best known for his work as premier trumpeter for Pink Martini His versatility and love of music has allowed him to work with bands and orchestras in a great variety of genres including classical, rock, country, funk, American folk, big band, salsa, free jazz, mariachi, and Middle-Eastern music. In between Pink Martini shows, he writes, arranges, and performs with the group he founded, the Shanghai Woolies, a band of renegade rock musicians who play rippin’ hot jazz.

MARTIN ZARZAR (Bass, Percussion) Born in Lima, Peru, Martín’s musical interest was sparked at a young age and he began to formally study drum-set and hand percussion at age thirteen, and his professional music career began at age fifteen in Portland, OR when he met the group Al-Andalus Ensemble, with whom he studied, traveled, performed, and recorded. In 1996 he was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, from where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. His teachers include Eusebio Sirio “Pititi”, “Chocolate” Algendones, Jamey Haddad, Dave DiCenso, Reinhardt Melz, Kenwood Dennard, Ernesto Diaz and Casey Scheuerell. He is a core member of Pink Martini and in addition has traveled internationally as a performer and recording artist, working alongside Simon Shahin, Jamey Haddad and Leo Blanco, among others. One of his original compositions, “Mar Desconocido,” appears on Pink Martini’s third album, Hey Eugene! Martin proudly uses LP (Latin Percussion) instruments.