Albino Mbie was born in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, a country in southern Africa known for its rich musical and cultural heritage. Fueled by the resourcefulness and determination that have always characterized Mozambicans, he built his first guitar at age 16 from scrap wood, strings made out of electrical cords, and a five-liter can of oil.
Drawn to the sounds of neighborhood street musicians in Maputo, Mbie began to play in a number of local bands and wanted to combine styles, incorporating diverse elements in his music. For his talents to grow, he knew he needed experience new places, cultures, and sounds.
While studying music education and performance at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, he heard about Berklee and soon afterward became one of the first students to receive a full scholarship to Berklee through the African Scholars program in 2009.
At Berklee, he was exposed to a variety of influences but wanted to go deeper into the roots of jazz and expand his knowledge of music. He auditioned and was selected to participate in the Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI), which is directed by Danilo Pérez and has a roster of teachers that includes Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, and Terri Lyne Carrington. BGJI fosters a musician's artistic vision, and has helped Mbie find his own unique voice in the art form.
Mbie still felt the absence of his Mozambican traditions in his music. With the help of his mentors, Richard Bona and Lionel Loueke—two of the most prominent African musicians in the United States—he began to bridge that gap.
Today, Mbie's music succeeds in combining many disparate parts into an organic whole. It incorporates his musical experiences from Mozambique, the U.S., and many other places around the world, combining rhythmic patterns and musical concepts to create a unique "Moz-jazz" sound.
His original composition "Mozambique Dance" was released by Jazz Revelation Records, a student-run record label at Berklee, in 2011. He recorded another original, "Awusiwana," for the Berklee 2012 Summer in the City disc. His debut album, also called Mozambique Dance, will be released soon.
Mbie is an active musician, and has performed in several countries, including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Italy, the U.S., and Mexico. He has also produced and recorded various projects in Mozambique and in the United States. He graduated from Berklee in 2012 with a dual degree in performance and music production and engineering, and a minor in acoustics.
With members from Turkey, Israel, Colombia, and Japan, Unlimited Perception offers a unique blend of microtones, lyrical melodies, and South American rhythms, such as bambuco and cumbia. The band, established at Berklee College of Music in 2012, invites listeners to join in on a musical conversation that emphasizes improvisation and that draws upon its members’ diverse roots to produce a harmonious, eclectic and earthy sound.
Unlimited Perception’s music is anchored in a belief in the importance of studying, knowing, and respecting all cultures, religions, and forms of artistic expression--a perception that connects people all over the world, as the band demonstrates. For more information, visit Unlimited Perception’s website.
Now based in New York City, Ali Amr is a Palestinian vocalist and qanun performer. His compositions contemplate Arabic and jazz music while embracing different textures and styles within the two. Amr was honored with three advanced Marcel Khalife Competition Awards, including the National Heritage Award as the Music Performer of the Year, 2004–2007. Since then, he has been touring worldwide with different acts, including his own group, Ali Amr Experiment.
Amr’s childhood was steeped in music as he began playing the qanun and singing at the age of five at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. He has performed in countless artistic events throughout the Middle East and in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland, Japan, Spain, and Turkey, among many other places.
In 2002, Arabic music virtuoso Simon Shaheen discovered Amr at the Music Retreat in Massachusetts, where he earned accolades from leading musicians and Arabic music specialists. At age 13, he completed a two-month tour of the United States, starting at the United Nations in New York and ending with an audience of 85,000 at San Antonio’s Alamo Dome in Texas. Since then, he has performed in world-renowned venues such as Boston's Symphony Hall (Massachusetts), Carnegie Hall (New York), Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles), Auditorio Nacional (Madrid, Spain), and Koerner Hall (Toronto, Ontario, Canada).
His most recent appearances after graduating from Berklee College of Music include the Festival de Peralada in Spain, where he was invited by 27-time Grammy-winning producer Quincy Jones as part of the Global All-Stars Group with Lionel Loueke, Esperanza Spalding, and Antonio Carmona. Amr also performed at multiple festivals, including Monterey Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, the Istanbul Jazz Festival with seven-time Grammy-winning producer Javier Limon, and the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival, as well as many other Berklee College of Music festivals, including the International Folk Music Festival and the Middle East Music Festival.
In addition to performing with his own group, Ali Amr Experiment, Amr has appeared in multiple acts initiated by EMI and Universal Studios. He has performed with world-renowned artists such as Jack DeJohnette, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, and Esperanza Spalding, among many others. Amr has also had the honor of performing for the princess of Jordan (2010), the Palestinian president (2008), Paco de Lucia (2010), Lang Lang (2011), and Charlie Sheen and Brian O’Neil (2012).
Gabriela Lencka—an actress, singer-songwriter, and videographer—incorporates all of her passions and expresses herself best as a performer. Her music is a tasty mix of many styles, and it is hard to stay indifferent to her lyrics. As if that were not enough, her performance is a genuine feast for the eyes and ears.
Led by Kenyan vocalist Wambura Mitaru, with South African guitarist Sebastian Reunert and Egyptian percussionist Moez Dawad, this group of friends has a deep grasp of their African roots. With their various regional backgrounds and their vast experiences in world music, Wambura Mitaru Synergy creates a hybrid sound that combines groovy tunes and catchy lyrics.
Siv & Maddie is a Boston-based acoustic folk duo consisting of Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen and Maddie Rice, a guitarist, singer, and songwriter from Salt Lake City, Utah. Their music is inspired by Norwegian folk and Americana music, and their influences include artists such as Ane Brun, Susanne Sundfør, Laura Marling, and Ray La Montagne.
Unlimited Perception was born in 2012 as a community of artists and creators. Its members hail from different parts of the world: Turkey, Israel, Colombia, and Japan. The collaboration between them took place while attending Berklee. They generated a harmonious, eclectic, and earthy sound due to their diverse backgrounds. The music features a blend of South American rhythms such as bambuco and cumbia with microtones and lyrical melodies. The band emphasizes the element of improvisation and musical conversation during their performances.
Unlimited Perception features Andres Fonseca Alfonso on drums, Miguel Angel Lous on saxophone and flute, Utar Artun on piano, Burcu Gulec performing vocals, Hagai Perets on guitar, Ren Yamamoto on bass, and Victor Andres Cruz on percussion.