Al-Andalus Ensemble is a contemporary Andalusian musical ensemble whose core members are husband-wife team Tarik and Julia Banzi. They combine the music of Spanish flamenco, Medieval Spanish cantigas, classical Andalusian melodies, Ladino (Jewish-Spanish) melodies, Arabic rhythms, and vocals in Spanish and Arabic to create the musical style they call "contemporary Andalusian".
They seek to sustain and continue the Andalusian classical music traditions of Tarik's native Morocco and his ancestor's home in Moorish Andalusia. Ted Gioia, author of The History of Jazz, likened Al-Andalus Ensemble's creation of the "contemporary Andalusian" genre to Astor Piazzolla's creation of nuevo tango style, essentially saying that both these sets of musicians had revitalized their traditional musical styles that were growing stagnant by embracing a multicultural influences that allowed them to transform and modernize their traditional music .
The ensemble's membership of musicians and dancers shifts with its performance needs, and past and current members have included They also perform with Arab-American violinist Charlie Bisharat and Pink Martini members Martin Zarzar and Gavin Bondi as well as Moroccan musician Noureeddine Chkara and Spanish singer Virtudes Sanchez.
Tarik Banzi, descended from Moorish Andalusians who fled Spain during the Spanish Reconquest, is a visual artist as well as musician and composer. He holds a doctorate in Fine Arts from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain and his paintings have been exhibited internationally. He was also an active member of the Seville flamenco music scene since the late 1970s, early 1980s, including membership in the jazz-flamenco fusion band Quadalquivir . He studied with flamenco master musicians such as Paco de Lucia, Manolo Sanlucar, Enrique Morente and Jorge Pardo and it has been claimed that Tarik introduced the use of the darbuka and Udu to flamenco music. Two of his students, Fain Duenas and Vicente Molina, went on to form the Grammy-nominated world music group Radio Tarifa.
Julia Banzi holds a PhD in ethnomusicology and specializes in women's performance of Andalusian music. She contributed two articles on Moroccan food and women's performance to the multi-authored book The Ethnomusicologists' Cookbook: Complete Meals from Around the World (Routledge 2006).
The ensemble won the UC San Diego-based California ArtsBridge award for their K-12 educational program "Journey from Baghdad to Cordoba". The program is part of the Young Audiences association to bring the arts into schools in Oregon and Washington.
- “Alchemy” Al-Andalus Records, 2006.
- “Genetic Memories” Al-Andalus Records, 1999.
- “Proximity 21” Cent Media Records, 1999.
- “Illumination” KOCH International, 1996.
- “The Bridge II” Regional Arts and Culture Council, 1996.
- “The Bridge I” Regional Arts and Culture Council, 1994.
- “Liman: For Whom?” Al-Andalus Records, 1992.