KHALID KOUHEN

Born in Fes, Morocco in 1957 and living in France since 1978, Khalid Kouhen is recognized as one of the most talented percussionist of his generation. The richness and skill of his craft as well as the varied flavors of his instrumentation are highly coveted in the contemporary music scene.

Khalid is very accomplished in contemporary music, jazz, pop, world music, and in many traditional repertoires, such as Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Indian… He became famous, in the ranks of Archie Shepp, Chico Freeman, Glenn Ferris, Claude Barthelemy, Pandit Shankar Ghosh, El Hadj N’Diaye, Majid Bekkas, Karima Skalli, Paddy Kelly

Musician without borders and an inspired improviser, he excels both in the compositions and arrangements for percussion ensembles.You’ll be happy to discover his upcoming work “Sillage,” developed and recorded in collaboration with vocalist Marylene Ingremeau and a few other prestigious artists such as Jonas Knutsson, soprano saxophone, and Sandip Chatterjee, Indian santoor.

BIRTH OF A PASSION 

Khalid Kouhen was born under a star of cultural diversity. His family, of Arabo-Judeo-Sudanese ancestry, carried a great passion for music and the richness of its traditions. His South Sudanese grandmother was an initiated master of Gnawa dance. At home, a yearly tradition of a ritual celebration was held which united artists, family, and friends. Present throughout the celebration were dance and music. Between his father on the ghazia tabla and his mother on the bendir or tarija, Khalid started playing percussion at the age of six and participated in the polyrhythmics of the ensembles. Initially just for fun, percussion quickly became his life’s passion.

At the age of 20, Khalid came to France to pursue his scientific studies at the University of Rennes. In his luggage were his Moroccan ghazia tablas. The multicultural melting pot that is a French university sharpened his desire to expand his human and musical horizons. It was at that time when his life took a decisive turn…

THE MASTERS: A PRESTIGIOUS HERITAGE

In 1982 he decided to delve into the art of rhythm and percussion in the manner of the grand masters of traditional music of different cultures. He received training from the following artists:

Nicia Ribas d’Avila musicologist and head percussionist at a Brazilian school of samba. From her, Khalid mastered the instruments of the batucada (surdo, caixa, pandeiro, tamburim…). His career was brilliantly adorned by the first place “gold Repinique” which he received in 1984. He obtained the position of head of drums within the school “Tia Nicia,” the first school of batacuda in France, and later directed percussion ensembles.

Pierre Cheriza Fènèlus master voodoo drummer of Haiti, with whom Khalid explored the Caribbean and Afro-Cuban repertoires and developed his skill on the congas and bongos.

Pandit Shankar Ghosh, distinguished master of Indian tablas, with whom Khalid trained since 1996. Meeting this virtuous artist and passionate pedagogue was a turning point in Khalid’s life. He created for Ghosh a class for Indian tablas in France which motivated the creation of a DVD of methodology for the tablas. Khalid had the privilege to perform by his side in France and India.

AN ECLECTIC CAREER

Since, he has not ceased to nourish the musical experiences in his life and collaborating with musicians of different talents.

Jazz and World Music
Archie Shepp, Chico Freeman, Glenn Ferris, Marc Ducret, Olivier Ker Ourio, Claude Barthélemy, David PatroisDavid Linx, Hervé Celcal, Allie Delfau, Manuel Hermia, Olivier Cahours, Mohamed Beddiar, Henri-Caude and Robert Portal, David Venitucci, Barbara Cadet, Jonas Knutsson, Haim Isaacs, Guo Gan, Aurélie and Vérioca, James Germain, Carlos Nascimento

African music
Manfila Kante (mandingo music of Mali)
Stanislas Tohon (singer, percussionist from Benin) and his guests Jacques Higelin and Manu Dibango
Adam Chisvo (master of mbiras, “thumb piano,” from Zimbabwe)
El Hadj N’Diaye (singer from Senegal)
Faytinga (singer from Eritrea)
Nana Magagula and Bholoja Mbongiseni (singers from Swaziland)
Stewart Sukuma (singer from Mozambique)

Moroccan music
Majid Bekkas, Nabil Khalidi, Rachid Zeroual, Driss El Maloumi, Karima Skalli

Indian music
Pandit Shankar Ghosh, Bickram Ghosh, Prabhu Edouard, Meeta Pandit, Hindol Deb, Michel Guay, Ananda Gopal Das Baûl

Pop
Paddy Kelly, Mathilde Renault, Chloé Mons.

Theater and dance music
“Les Cerberes” and “Medea,” two theater pieces directed by Serge Noyelles, under the musical direction of Marco Quesada. Creation and recording of dance music for choreographers and dancers Carolyn Carlson, Julie Dossavi, and Nupur (kathak dance)

TRANSMISSION

Experienced pedagogue, Khalid Kouhen routinely dedicates himself to the transmission of his art. In 1993 he created TOUCOULEURS, a school of percussion in Rennes which offers elite instruction for different traditional percussion (Brazilian, African, and Indian). He teaches master classes, training, and musical workshops in France at the conservatory of Rennes, Charleville-Mézières, schools of jazz and contemporary music at CIM in Paris and EDIM in Cachan, and even in other countries, including the USA, Swaziland, Mozambique, the Caribbean…