Jean-Pierre Smadja (aka Smadj) was born in Tunisia. Arriving soon after in Paris, he became one of the landmark of the capital effervescent scene. Dropping the guitar for the oud (Turkish or Arabic lute), he made himself a name at an international scale with his electric and wild arrangements of the most traditional taksims (instrumental and solo introduction of a maqâm).
Smadj is serial worker. He released a bunch of solo projects, played, recorded and toured with fellow oudist Mehdi Haddab (DuOuD), continuing to serve as an Artistic Director asked from Australia to Turkey.
Mixing acoustic and electric is Smadj’s signature : his repertory is going from traditional oud – with or without effects and MIDI processing to electric oud ; from compositions in the way of the classic masters to electronic influences.
He collaborates with Talvin Singh, Ibrahim Maalouf, Erik Truffaz, Malik Mezzadri, Stephano di Baptista, Amit Chatterjee, Rokia Traoré, Mehdi Haddab, Natacha Atlas, Malouma … Smadj is also a well-known producer for jazz and word music (Kirklirili il siniri/Burhan Öçal & The Trakya All Stars featuring Smadj, Laurent de Wilde’s “Stories”…).
SOLOTRONIC is one of his long-term project. Meeting many musicians along the way, Smadj is throwing bridges between many cultures and music styles, playing without distinctions with traditional musicians from Shandong Province in China or the Algerian Maalouf singer Hamdi Benani, B-Boy Hip-Hop raising names in Zanzibar (Blackfit Raggae) or the acclaimed Mozambiquan pop singer Chico Antonio…
Many tours already with this solo + guest project fittingly called Solotronic + : Australia tour (11 shows), East Africa Tour – Ouganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti – (10 shows), Turkey (2 shows), Morocco (5 shows), South Africa and Zimbabwe (6 shows), China (11 shows)… and nearly as many collaborations : Cyno Emcee Moses, Giovanni Kremer, Kiyingi, Adel Bado, Abayazid Ali Dahabli, Melakou, Orhan Osman, Cem Yildiz, Noa Wax, Tlale Makhene, Carlo Mombelli, Hope Maseke, Mo Laudi…
“His Smadjesty returns with an electro-oud odyssey […] Solotronics is the fruit of Smadj whirlwind 70-date 2019 global tour suffused by subtle rythms from Zanzibar, Morocco and Nairobi” Daniel Brown, Songlines – March 2018
Other projects : DuOuD (with Mehdi Haddab), Maputo Electronico (with Chico Antonio & Rhodalia Silvestre)
Tunisian born, Parisian musician, Jean-Pierre Smadja (Smadj) grew up listening to Oriental, Brazilian, funk, soul, and folk music. Entering a jazz school at age 15 due to his intense interest in the guitar, Smadj’s musical development came to be characterized by transforming traditional jazz styles into eclectic sounds. This interest in the mechanics of making music led Smadj to pursue a degree in sound engineering, which led to a fruitful career as a recording & sound engineer for famous classical and folk musicians.
Releasing his first album in 1994, Smadj became quickly recognized on an international scale for his signature blending of acoustic and electronic sounds on “Equilibriste”, which would ascend on the European World Music Charts to the number 4 position. In 2002, Smadj joined fellow oud magician, Mehdi Haddab to create DuOuD, a duo transporting the oud to the 21st century.
In 2003, Smadj joined master percussionist Burhan Öçal for Burhan Öçal & The Trakya All Stars and in 2005 he stepped behind the scenes to serve as artistic director for Burhan Öçals “New Dream”, re-arranging Gypsies music. Meanwhile, Smadj was recording his own projects with other Turkish virtuosos Savas Zurnaci and Orhan Osman and DuOud. (“Sakat” with the yemeni player Abdulatif Yagoub recorded and “Ping Pong”).
More? A solo project “Selin” with Erik Truffaz and Talvin Singh as special guests ; a soundtrack with Cem Yildiz for the film “Muro”, some tremendous work with a “Hü” band, focusing on Alevi traditional music, and a huge project “the oud after Smadj” with Natacha Atlas, Ibrahim Maalouf, Mehdi Haddab, Cem Yildiz…..command for Saint Denis Festival (France). Some knows better Smadj for his album “Fuck the DJ”, relased in 2012, a musical journey where music is having an orgy with disco, dubsteps and oriental flavor. But there is the “Spleen” side of him (released in 2015).
Smadj is East meets West, often severely borderline. And it’s a real pleasure.
Equilibriste • 1999 (M.E.L.T 2000/BW)
New deal • 2000 (Electric M.E.L.T/ELM)
Take it and Drive • 2003 (Most Records)
SOS • 2005 (Doublemoon/EMI)
Selin • 2009 (MVS/Bassofone)
Fuck the DJ • 2012 (Smadjrecords/Codaex)
Spleen • 2015 (Jazzvillage/Harmoniamundi)
Solotronic • 2017 (Whirling Wolf)
New release • 2020
New album • release Fall 2018
Ping Kong • 2009 (World Village)
Sakat • DuOud & Abdulatif Yagoub • 2006
Wild Serenade • 2002 (Label Bleu)
as an ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Vendetta Society • Artkonik • 2001 (Comet records)
Kirklirili il siniri • Burhan Öçal • 2003
Stories • Laurent de Wilde 2003 (Warner)
Nour • Malouma Marabi • 2007
Cem Yildiz/Smadj/Rustam Mahmuzade • 2010 (MVS)
Fihi ma Fihi • Bashka • 2016
Tout ira bien • Arash Sarkechick • 2018 (Matcha Records)
Smadj • acoustic and electric oud, computer and effects
+ various guests