Toto : Phenomenal Percussionist

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Fethi Tabouche mostly known as Toto is a famous artist; born in Guelma (Eastern Algeria) Toto has seen all his dreams became reality.  His musical style has always been eclectic; he’s coming from Aïssaouas bands where he used to play bendir (Traditional percussion instrument). Back then, he was only 13 but his musical talents were already so phenomenal that most people encouraged him to study music.
Therefore, he decided to head for Algiers, capital city of all artists who would like to become famous. He then registers at the National Institute of Music (NIM), specializing in percussions. During his studies, Toto would also be interested in drama; where he will met lots of artists and musicians. Life wasn’t easy for him given that he was new in the industry and didn’t know anyone but his sympathy, energetic character and his talent would open many doors. In 2003, he was only 19 when he met members of flamengo band “Triana d’Alger / Algiers Triana”. They quickly became friends and asked him to become their drummer. It’s a big challenge and opportunity for Toto given the fact that “Algiers Triana” is a very famous and popular band performing in Algeria and oversees. That experience was phenomenal, according to him, “In fact we are in a world where news goes around very quickly including artists names. That’s how one day; I had the chance to meet Amine Dahane a great producer which introduced me to many Algerian’s celebrities”. Another important meeting was Amar Azzouz, owner of Sonostar Studios. Even Toto acknowledges that those two people were the corner stone of his musical career.

FROM STUDIOS TO SCENE
Preceded by his reputation, Toto was hired needed by many Algerians artists to record their albums. He collaborated with Mohamed Rouane’s (a very strict composer) percussionist. According to Toto, “It was an interesting experience because Rouane is an honest and opened person. With him, you can really exchange views and ideas. I did express my musical talents.” He adds: “I was also percussionist of kabyle’s singer, Rachid Koceïla. It was a different musical style but He knows his job and for me, it was an interesting experience added to my background”.

When Amine Dahane (a producer) started another project, it was obvious that he would contact Toto who says: “When Amine Dahane decided to record an album on Gnawi –Jazz, he asked me to be his percussionist. It was interesting to be part of it”.

Because of hard work, tenacity and dedication Toto has confirmed himself as one of Algiers best musicians proved by “SMS Groove”, a project realised in 2005 by Hakim Salhi a Choreograph, interpreter and Copywriter. This project was a collaboration of Algiers’s best musicians. Toto’s comments about it are: “It was a very interesting project because we had many artists of various styles that shared their experiences and knowledge. What else can you dream of, having all those people (youngsters and elders). There’s nothing else much better than that if you want to learn and gained some experience in this field.”

GADD, BADRINA, ZIAD AND OTHERS
For this fan of Steve Gadd and Manolo Badrina (famous percussionist of American jazzman Joe Zawinul), Toto still has lots to achieve before considering himself a star. In a confidence, he says: “Manolo is my role model, my reference. I’ve admired him since a very long time. Meeting him was the most important moment of my life; it was also a privilege to work with him. Our musical connection was phenomenal and unforgettable”. He has already played with Tchico, former “Gypsy King” leader and new leader of Flamenco Tchico and the Gypsies. He has also worked with American stars such as Deborah Carter, Barbara Luna, Manda Djin and Steve Blum when they were in Algiers. He is very lucky to have worked with so many celebrities because many artists of his age don’t have that opportunity. He’s so proud of it and says: “I do recognize that it’s a difficult field and that you must be exceptional in order to be selected. But I’m a hard worker and you need to be open and simple if you want to succeed”. Another reference is Karim Ziad a talented Algerian musician, one of the world’s best drummers

TEBIBEL OR JAZZ INITIATION
Toto is modest and loves socializing especially in artistic places. One evening, when he was in a popular Algiers Jazz Club called “Triangle”, he met Azzedine Tebibel an incredible Algerian jazz musician who initiated him to jazz music. Talking about it, he says: “Before I met Azzedine, I was interested in all kinds of music without any preferences. But it was Azzedine who taught me a lot about jazz music. Farid Ladjadj also taught me some other things about jazz. I thanked them very much because they were artistically generous”. During our conversation, he also give credit to his best friends who contributed a lot in his career such as Hamza Besbes flautist, Hakim Mahfouf violinist and Yanis Djama guitarist. He adds: “We rented a flat in town to stay together because we shared the same musical passion. We used to play and write songs together. We even created our own studio and recorded our first acoustic album.”

In the meantime, Toto is busy playing here and there and said: “I played in Spain during an international festival and also in western Sahara where I met interesting artists. I wish to go back there because I learned a lot from Saharawi’s musicians and their traditional music is rich and interesting”. He adds: “The last event I participated in was in Oued Souf, southern part of Algeria. I played with many artists such as Cheba Zahouania, Hamidou, Raïna Raï, Hamid Baroudi and Réda Sika. Each of them having their own style, it was a pleasure for me to pass from raï to hawzi or world music”.

A MAN FULL OF PROJECTS

Toto was selected amongst many by producer Farid Aouameur as percussionist in a casting for the 19 Pan African Games that was held in Algiers. Safy Boutella, a producer and concert organiser also chose him for his 30 anniversary of musical career where he sang “Majnoun” (Mad) from Safy’s latest album. He performed in Dubai with Mohamed Rouane’s orchestra. Toto doesn’t have enough time to rest as he’s always on stage but according to him, it’s not a problem when you are still young, strong and healthy.

Photo of Azzedine Tebibel published at http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=141817692524086

Photo of Mohamed Rouane published at  http://ngspectacles.dzblog.com/article-35623375.html
Photos of Toto published at African all star magazine

Source | onebignation.com

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