This exotic group take their name from the historic and extremely rare instrument, the rango, a type of marimba. Now based in Cairo, they perform trance-inducing Sudanese acoustic dance music from mystic healing ceremonies played on vintage lyres retrofitted with electric pickups and quartertone idiophones (marimba), accompanied by drummers and ritual percussionists wearing mangor belts fashioned from goat horns.
Their unique form of sacred and secular music evolved from the former slave trade communities of Sudan and Ethiopia following the abolition of the slave trade in Egypt. They combine traditional music styles with a complex belief system of shamanic practices, worship of Muslim prophets, Christian spirits and the Zar, a healing communion with unseen entities thought to cleanse the soul and relieve suffering. The band’s exotic music and principle instrument is known as rango, a vintage marimba which first appeared in Egypt in the 1820’s following Mohamed ali’s conquest of Sudan.
Although popular at Sudanese wedding celebrations and street parties during the first half of the 20th century, the growing dominance of Arabian pop music led to the rango becoming all but extinct by the late 1970’s. During the production of a documentary on this long-lost music for Nile TV in the 1990’s, Hassan Bergamon, the last surviving player of the rango was rediscovered living in Cairo. With the support of the El Mastaba Centre for Egyptian Folk Music, Hassan has since assembled a group of veteran drummers and Zar masters, along with a collective of singers and ritual dancers, to keep this amazing tradition alive for future generations.
Rango made their UK debut in September 2009, opening their tour with a sell out show at The Barbican’s “Transcender Weekender” which gained a four star review in The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article6857077.ece
They went on to make no less than 33 more appearance during October, at festivals, arts centres, community events, schools and museums up and down the UK, paving the way for an instant return next year to meet demand from some major summer festivals.
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Rango were the undisputed champions at WOMAD’s Abu Dhabi festival this year with, ending their three days of ecstatic voodoo performances with an unexpected main stage slot on final night when Damien Marley was suddenly taken ill. Read all about it!…………..