Saturday, April 25, 2015

Najat Aâtabou - Live in Paris and in Tamazight

Here's a live album from Najat Aâtabou released around 1985, not long after she first burst onto the Moroccan music scene. She's in fine form here, performing in Paris at The Olympia with oud, bendir-s, a darbuka and the backup singing of the male band members.

The album opens with an evocative (orientalist?) intro featuring audio snippets of a Middle Atlas ahaidous communal dance (one wonders if there was video at the concert as well) with a spoken narration extolling the bounties of Moroccan traditional music, before introducing Najat herself.

Tracks 3 and 4 are sung in her native Central Atlas Tamazight dialect, while the others are sung in darija (Moroccan Arabic). I've become obsessed in particular with Track 4, "Nikkine Admough" or "Ad 3mough Izri". Here's a different live performance, longer than the one on the album. The moment where the band stops and Najat continues singing a capella breaks my heart:

According to this interview and performance from Moroccan TV, the lyrics are about a woman who was separated from her lover because of travel. Upon her return she finds that he has died, and she cries at his grave. (A kind soul has also translated some of the lyrics from Tamazight to French in the comments.)

Another native speaker of Central Atlas Tamazight who found success using Arabic lyrics with Berber musical forms was Mohamed Rouicha. However, Rouicha recorded some entire albums in Tamazight, whereas I don't think Najat ever released an album in Tamazight. I have found only a few live performance clips on YouTube from her early days where she performs songs in Tamazight. Conveniently, they are all linked from this page at I'd love to be proved wrong, though - does anyone know if she ever made studio recordings in Tamazight?

Najat Aâtabou at L'Olympia (EH1280)
1) intro
2) La Tbkich (= El Mektab)
3) Mani Lâhad
4) Nikkine Admongh
5) J'en ai Marre
6) 1, 2, 3

Get it here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Najat Aâtabou - Koun Mâaya (1985)

It's been a while since I posted any Najat - long overdue, now that I think about it.

Here's an oldie, circa 1985, when she was still using the basic ensemble of oud and bendir-s. The song "Koun Mâaya" (Be With Me) was the title track, and lyrics were featured on the j-card. The song features some sort of bass oud, or someone playing an octave down.

My fave tune, though, is the rocking "Tikka Ghalia" (Trust is Expensive), Here's a fab live version:

Najat Aâtabou - Koun Mâaya (EH 1300, 1985)
1) Koun Mâaya
2) Tikka Ghalia
3) Ach Ngoul Lih
4) Ha Nta Chouf

Get it here.

PS - it appears that Divshare has been down for several weeks, so all my embedded audio tracks are dead. Hopefully they'll come back online eventually, but who knows.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Raïs Aberrahmane Aznkd

More goodies from the Nathan Salsburg stash. I can find no information whatsoever online about this smiling, right-handed, lotar-wielding musician. The closest I found was a number of links to a seemingly younger Mohamed Aznkd, who is a left-handed, banjo-wielding musician.

There is some rapid-fire lotar picking going on here!

Al Raïs Abderrahmane Aznkd (Sawt el Andalous cassette S.A. 05)
1) Madrigh Asmoun
2) Arja f-Llah Arnaala
3) Aralaagh Aryaala
4) Gaaraa Hbib Allah
5) Allah Yâawen Nslemdyoun
6) Ajdaâ Igaan Oumleel
7) A Rabi

Get it all here.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

3 Rwayes 3: Demsiria / Ihihi / Atigui

It's Easter Sunday here in Northern California, and we've got some much-needed rain!

Here's another swell tape from Nathan Salsburg's collection. The first rwayes supergroup? According to the author of this post, "Moulay Hmad Ihihi had the idea of putting out the first album combining a number of singers." This album, dating from 1981, features these three rwayes:
  • Raïssa Rkia Demsiria (الرايسة رقية الدمسيرية) who was already well known by this time, having had her first hit in 1968 with "A Taxi Ghilla Radio"
  • Raïs Moulay Hmad Ihihi (مولاي أحمد احيحي) - veteran singer, composer and player of the lotar (not the big pear-shaped, low-pitched lotar used by Middle Atlas musicians like Rouicha, but the round-bodied, high-pitched lotar used by Soussi musicians.
  • Raïs Aârab Atigui (الرايس أعراب اتيكي), singer and rrbab player for whom this cassette was his first (and some say finest) release.
Memorable melodies and traditional textures make this a lovely addition to the stash. I'm not sure whether the lead vocals on tracks 3, 5, and 6 are by Ihihi or Atigui - any help would be appreciated!

Demsiria - Moulay Hmad - Aârab (Edition Hassania EH 1167) (1981)
1) Ark Tella Tarikta (vocal Raïssa Rkia Demsiria)
2) Afis Aygigel (vocal Raïs Aârab Atigui)
3) ???
4) Mata z-Zmanad (vocal Raïssa Rkia Demsiria)
5) Taghaous Aidba Bens
6) Arniyat Isella Lhem

Get it all here.