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Meet the Band

Dena El Saffar, Viola, Violin, Joza, 'Oud, Vocals

email: dena@salaamband.com 

Dena El Saffar, of Iraqi and American heritage, was exposed to Arabic music in the suburbs of Chicago, where she grew up attending Iraqi gatherings with her family. She began learning the violin at the age of six. At age 17, completely engaged in classical music, she accompanied her father to Baghdad and became enchanted by the music of Iraq and the Middle East. In 1993, while obtaining a classical music degree from Indiana University, she founded the group Salaam, a Middle Eastern music ensemble which has performed throughout the United States . She has studied with Hamid Al-Saadi, Munis Sharifov, Mohammed Gomar and Anwar Abudragh, and has performed with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and Youssou N’dour. Dena, who plays the viola, violin, joza and kemanche, has also performed with Central Eurasian ensembles, salsa groups, bluegrass, blues and rock bands.  She is the older sister of Amir ElSaffar, is married to percussionist Tim Moore, and is the mother of two: Jamil and Layla.



Tim Moore, Percussion

email: tim@salaamband.com

Tim Moore grew up in the Midwest, and began playing drums at the age of 11.  A natural percussionist, he began performing with different groups early on, gaining experience in a variety of genres including jazz, blues, salsa and rock. After earning a computer science degree from Indiana University in 1989, he worked on the East and West Coasts as a computer programmer, but in 1993 he left that world in order to devote himself to music.  In his quest to become a better, more diverse musician, he began learning rhythms and instruments from around the world, eventually bringing his focus to Middle Eastern percussion.   He has studied Arabic percussion with Wessam Ayoub, Sattar Al Saadi, Lateef Al ‘Abeedi, N. Scott Robinson, and Mohammed Khalil Salih.  Tim plays the dumbek, riqq, naqqarat, bendir, tabl and zanbur, as well as drum set, bass and guitar. Tim is married to Dena El Saffar, and enjoys spending his free time with their two children, Jamil and Layla.




Tomás Lozano, Guitar, Hurdy-Gurdy, Percussion, Vocals


  Tomás Lozano is an instrumentalist, vocalist and composer born in Barcelona, Spain, and raised between southern Spain and Catalonia. Known for his eclectic musicianship, Lozano's performance of Spain's traditional ballads sung in Castilian, Catalan and Galician, stand out as iconic.  Lozano also plays contemporary, popular and European folk music from France, Spain, Britain, the Middle East and Sepharad.  Beyond that, he performs his original compositions, solo or accompanied.  He currently performs with a variety of ensembles such as  Daily Bread & Butter, !Viva la Pepa!, Kativar, Istanbul Breeze,  Simkhe, M3rde, Celtica, Tamango and Salaam. Tomás has performed throughout Europe, the US, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.


Miguel Merino, Percussion

  Miguel Merino studied drumset in the University of Miami’s jazz program. After immersing himself in Miami's diverse musical culture, he moved to Egypt in early 2009, where for the next three years he played with musicians from Egypt, the Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. This gave him the opportunity to learn many of the local hand drums, as well as the masankop,  an East-African lyre to which he was introduced by musicians in the Sudanese community. Miguel also leads the group Otaak Band, his own project based around this instrument.



Amir ElSaffar, Santoor, Trumpet, Vocals


  Amir ElSaffar, born in 1977, is an acclaimed classical and jazz trumpet player who in recent years has delved into a completely different musical tradition, that of his ancestral past, the Iraqi maqam. This journey took him to Iraq and other countries throughout the Middle East, where he encountered several masters of the Iraqi Maqam and learned to sing the Maqam and play the santoor, a hammered-dulcimer native to Iraq. He has performed Iraqi Maqam nationally and internationally, including the cities of New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Bloomington, IN, Montreal, Cairo, Beirut and London. Hamid Al-Saaidi, Amir’s teacher, who is considered by many to be the best living Maqam singer, regards Amir as one of the important carriers of this tradition in his generation, and has said "Amir is a great addition to the Maqam…he is preserving the true essence of this music."


Stephen Harms, Bass, Cello


  Composer and musician Stephen Harms writes for and performs a myriad of styles including new music, orchestral music, opera, chamber music, art song, recital, big band, jazz, Latin, fusion, avant-garde, free jazz, freely improvised, Middle Eastern, Maqam, Klezmer, soul, rock, and Americana, among others. Stephen plays double bass, electric bass (4, 5, and 6 string fretted and fretless), cello, guitar (acoustic, electric, 12-string, etc.), and various string instruments. Recent and ongoing projects include co-leading Better Bidness Bureau, co-leading Millbranch String Theory, performing with Salaam, and other recording and live projects. Stephen is based in New York City.


Sam Finley, Guitar, Bass

  Bloomington native Sam Finley is a guitarist, composer and teacher and the most recent addition to Salaam’s fantastic group of musicians. From 1998 to 2009 Sam lived, played and studied in Austria, Spain, the Czech Republic and Argentina. His love of music and learning has led him to study many different styles including flamenco, klezmer and jazz. He has studied with the Brazilian guitarist Marcos Cavelcante at Indiana University, the Bloomington classical guitarist and composer Sulaiman Zai and while in Europe, Sam studied at the Prague Conservatory with the Czech classical guitarist, Milan Zalenka. Currently, Sam is a member of the Bloomington based bands The Klezmorkestra and The Buffoonski Brothers and he is working with the Indianapolis flamenco studio FlamencoÓle. He is also a popular teacher and has students of various ages and styles.


Lety ENaggar, Saxophone, Ney


Lety ElNaggar is a wind instrumentalist, performing on saxophone, clarinet, flute, and nay. Born and raised by a Mexican mother and Egyptian father, she studied classical and jazz music in Philadelphia and New York at a young age, branching out to explore other genres such as Colombian and Arabic music in New York, where she has performed with the Alwan Arab Music Ensemble, Salaam, Bella Gaia, MAKU Soundsystem, and the New York Arab Orchestra. She also writes and performs music inspired by her liminality as an Egyptian-Mexican raised outside of either place and exposure to several distinct yet inter-related musical genres and wind instruments. After moving to Cairo for 6 months on a Fulbright Fellowship to study the nay with world-renowned master Hany ElBadry and Egyptian music with several other prominent local musicians, she has relocated to Beirut where she currently studies and performs with artists in the region, including Lena Chamamyan and Ziad Rahbani.


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