Al MacSween’s experiences of working with a staggering range of artists have shaped his unique sound and his rich palette of influences, ranging from jazz and electronic music, to Afro-Cuban and West-African music to Indian classical, Arabic, Afghan and Turkish music. He has collaborated with numerous acclaimed artists including Ruby Turner MBE, American jazz legend Gary Bartz, Syrian qanun master Maya Youseff, London Community Gospel Choir, Palestinian jazz singer Reem Kelani, Kurdish vocalist Olcay Bayir and kora player Kadialy Kouyate; and since moving to London has become centrally involved in the city’s emerging”new” jazz scene, working extensively with artists including Nubya Garcia, Sarathy Korwar, Camilla George, Maisha, Daniel Casimir, Bex Birch, Danalogue, Chiminyo and many more.
Al began playing the piano at the age of 5 and had formed his first group by the age of 11. At 18 he went to Leeds College of Music to study a Bachelors in jazz piano where he was also exposed to the city’s thriving dub, electronic music and sound system culture. It was also in Leeds where he began to develop a deep interest in Indian classical improvisation, leading to yearly trips to Kolkatta to study under renowned musician Prattyush Bannerjee, working with world-renowned Indian classical artists including Aruna Sairam, Shankar Mahadevan, Debashish Bhattacharya and many more; as well as exceptional British-Indian artists including Soumik Datta, Roopa Panesar, Nicki Wells, Deepa Nair Rasiya, Jesse Bannister and Ranjana Ghatak.
Al has also been heavily involved in the UK’s Latin scene, recording and performing with artists including Omar Puente, Yelfris Valdes, Bugalu Foundation and Grupo X, performing at the esteemed Havana Jazz Festival and La Palacia De La Rumba in Cuba, and studying in Havana with legendary Cuban pianist Rodolfo Argudín ‘Perochin’.
Al is founder of the award-winning group Kefaya alongside drummer Joost Hendrickx and guitarist Giuliano Modarelli, who recently collaborated on a new album with renowned Afghan folk singer Elaha Soroor.