Adel Shams El Din is universally acknowledged as being one of the most gifted riqq players and percussionists today. Born in Cairo, Egypt on the 18th of June, 1950, but soon moving to Alexandria, he learned his art in the traditional way - starting at home. Adel was raised in a family of music lovers, where is elder brother was a musician, and it wasn't long before he was following in the footsteps of his older brother, Shams. He was 11 years old his first time on stage, where he would, not so many years later, find his home. Adel studied both music and mechanical engineering at the University of Alexandria, and often performed with the orchestra of the university. His music teacher and mentor was the brilliant musicologist and composer, Fathi Guened; who taught Adel not just the basics of rhythm and percussion, but also to know the Arabic maqam (scales) by ear, as well as music reading, history and theory. He pursued his university courses in engineering just far enough to get a passing grade, spending the greatest portion of his time immersed in the study and performance of the music he so loved.
In 1970, while still a student, Adel Attended a concert at the Opera House Sayeed Darwish in Alexandria, where he saw the riqq soloist of the orchestra, Samir Ben Yamine, perform for the very first time (Samir was one of two great master riqq players at that time in Egypt, the other being Hassan Anwer). Adel was so powerfully struck and inspired by what he had seen that he immediately bought a riqq, and returned night after night to the opera house to watch Samir's hands as closely as possible. He worked tirelessly on developing his riqq technique, practicing, and perfecting the movements he had learned watching Samir. Six months later, when Samir left Egypt to continue his career in London, it was Adel who was chosen to replace him as riqq soloist of the Opera House orchestra. And, soon after, he was also hired as riqq soloist with Radio Alexandria for not just one, but both radio orchestras, which was the first time in the radio's history that any musician had played in both.
Embarking on his career as a mechanical engineer after graduation, Adel initially gave up playing music in order to devote himself to his work, just as his brother, Shams, had done before him. But the work, pay, and conditions of his job with the Egyptian Railway were so terrible and unsatisfying that it wasn't long before he returned to playing music, and once again made it the focus of his life. For the next few years he performed with several traditional music groups, and for folkloric dance ensembles.
Then in 1979, came the turning point that would decide Adel's future as a musician. One of the groups he performed with, The Folkloric Dance Troup of Alexandria led by the renowned choreographer Ali Gindy, was chosen to play a handful of festivals in France and Switzerland. Adel left with them on tour but did not return to Egypt when it was through. Instead, he headed for London, where the ever present Saudi Princes made being an accomplished musician a very lucrative career at that time. Adel was hired immediately at a famed cabaret in the center of London and issued his work visa which required him to re-enter the country to begin his career in earnest. But upon attempting to return to the U.K. from France, he was refused by an official with the British embassy in Paris who demanded an investigation into Adel and his employer despite the fact that all his papers were valid and in order. Adel returned to the British embassy every week for six months but the official insisted his investigation was ongoing until the visa finally expired.
But Adel refused to give up and return to Egypt. He remained in France despite the immense difficulties this posed, among them not knowing the language, or having any contacts or employment. But he was able to connect with the Arab community in Paris and soon found employment in a cabaret, The Nouvelle Etoile, where his employer gave him the papers necessary for him to stay and work legally in France. And it was at The Nouvelle Etoile that Adel was first exposed to the music and rhythms of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and thus the cabaret became his second training in Arabic Music. And thanks to Adel's finely trained musical ear, he shattered the common stereotype among the musicians that Egyptians couldn't play these North African rhythms. But there was a dark side to playing in these cabarets for many were notorious places of crime and violence - there were sometimes turf wars between pimps or gangsters that often ended in bloodshed. In fact, Adel's employment at the Nouvelle Etoile ended when the owner was shot down one night in his own establishment. But by then he had already moved on with his career. Adel had never been satisfied with playing the same popular music over and over in cabarets, at weddings, and parties - the bread and butter of his fellow musicians, he wanted a creatively challenging and satisfying career as a musical and recording artist as he had known during his days at Radio Alexandria. So before his five years in the cabaret were at their end he had already begun playing with artists such as Hanni Shaker, Samir Saroor, Ahmed Wahbi, Bel Khyat, Doukaly, as well as playing regularly with Wadi Al Asafi while the famous singer lived in Paris to escape the war and chaos of Beirut.
Adel very quickly became one of the most in demand riqq players and percussionists in France, and by the early 1990's was already establishing an international career, which he continues to this day, accompanying with Al Kindi and other ensembles some of the greatest singers and musical artists of the Arab world, such as the Tunisien singer Loutfi Bouchnak; the Iraqi singer, Hussein Al Azemy; the Syrian singers, Sabri Moudallal, Adib Al-Dâyikh, Omar Sarmini, Abed Azrie, and Hamza Shakuur; the Palestinian oudist, Adel Salameh; the Kurdish buzuq player, Issa Hassan; The Moroccan oudist, Saïd Chraibi; as well as international artists such as the composer Jean Michel Jarre, Michel Sanchez, Zakir Hussein. He has continued to broaden his rhythmic horizons performing flamenco with Renauld Garcia Fons among others, as well as Medieval Music with Magali Imbert, jazz with Jean Luc Fillon, folkloric,classical and avant guard occidental musics with various ensembles, and orchestras in France and with Klaus Huber in Salzberg and Switzerland. He is recorded on more than 50 cd's and has also done work for dozens of films., and can be seen throughout europe, asia, and the orient performing at near a hundred different music festivals every year. Adel Also recorded a solo disc The Forty Rhythms From The Middle East, which he made especially for those who wish to know more about Arabic instruments and the rhythmic cycles used in it's classical and traditional musics, he was thinking especially of students of percussion. Forty Rhythms is an amazing disc like nothing else available, and Adel made sure that the CD booklet which explains the rhythmic cycles and how they are constructed would be in three languages in order to reach as many people as possible.