Monday, April 24, 2017

Additional Unpublished Gnawa Recordings at CREM

This post follows from my post of Sunday. Because I'm like that, I went through and identified the songs in the Gnawa recordings in Mohammed Aït Youssef's 1966 collection, and have linked to them below by title. I scoured CREM's various collections of unpublished North African recordings to try to locate any additional Gnawa recordings. Below you'll find links to what I could find. There are a few tracks in Aït Youssef's other collections, and some from a 1950-55 collection of recordings from the Algerian oasis of Tabelbala.


Collection : Maroc. Aït Youssef, M. ; 1965
1965 recordings by Mohammed Aït Youssef. In addition to Berber music from the Draa, Aissawa music from Marrakech, and more, the collection includes 5 Gnawa tracks from Marrakech. Like the 1966 recordigs, they appear to feature Ahmed ben Lahcen.
01-01 Chabakro (Negsha)
01-02 Baniya kum kum kum
01-03 Bangara Bangara
01-04 Berrma Soutanbi
01-05 Chabakro (Ouled Bambara)

Collection : Maroc, Marrakech; Musique de confrérie
1966 recordings by Mohammed Aït Youssef in Marrakech, 1966. Almost all tracks are Gnawa from Marrakech featuring Ahmed ben Lahcen.

01-01 Bukamly Wana
01-02 Kalkani Bulila
01-03 Jabuna
01-04 Berrma Soutanbi
02-01 Rebbi Moulay
02-02 Mimoun Sadiye
02-03 La ilaha illa Llah
02-04 Bukiriri
02-05 Baniya (ouled bambara)
02-06 Berrma Soutanbi
02-07 Ye Lalla Ya Tungra
03-01 L3afou (Âada)
03-02 Ftih ar Rahba -> Ouled Bambara (Âada)
04-01 Negsha
04-02 Chabakro (Negsha)
04-03 Turglami
04-04 Tinguba
04-05 Mbirika
05-01 3bid chleuh
05-02 Berrma Soutanbi (outro)
05-03 Allah ya Sidi Marhaba
05-04 Allah Allah Moulana (Hada wa3du meskin)
06-01 3bid chleuh
06-02 3bid chleuh
06-03 3bid Chleuh
06-04 Yomala
07-01 3bid chleuh
07-02 flute solo
07-03 Yobati
08-01 Chabakro (Ouled Bambara)
08-02 Kalkani Bulila
08-03 water seller bells
08-04 Tu mali Tu malinda
08-05 Berrma Nana Soutanbi
09-01 Kalkani Bulila -> Chabakro (Ouled Bambara)
09-02 Jabuna
09-03 Berrma Nana Soutanbi
09-04 Sandi Kayna
09-05 Bukamly Wana
10-01 Hada wa3do meskin
10-02 taqsim (oud)
10-03 taqsim (oud)

Collection : Maroc. Aït Youssef, Mohammed

The third and final collection of recordings by Mohammed Aït Youssef dates from 1968. Much of it comes from the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech. There are no recordings of Gnawa alone, but one track is a walkthrough of the plaza, and one can hear Gnawa with qraqeb and tbola, among other performers.

03-02 Bruit et ambiance de la place

Collection : Algérie, Tabelbala, missions D. Champault 1950-1955 
Massive collection of recordings from the Northwest Algerian Saharan oasis of Tabelbala made by Dominique Champault includes four tracks from the Beniou population (former slaves) - songs with qarqaba and drums.

22-01 Danse de Qarqabous
22-02 Danse de Qarqabous
61-01 Musique de Beniu
61-02 Musique de Beniu

Sunday, April 23, 2017

3 hours of Gnawa music from 1966

Those of you with a taste for field recordings may enjoy perusing the online collection of CREM (Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie), housing the audio archives of the CNRS and the Musée de l’Homme. Much of this vast audio archive of commercial and unpublished recordings is available for online listening.

I'm currently enjoying a remarkable collection of recordings made by one Mohammed Aït Youssef in Marrakech in 1966, featuring over 3 hours of Gnawa music:

The online documentation does not indicate the name of the performer, but I believe it is the Gnawi Ahmed ben Lahcen.

He can be heard in some of Cafe Matich's YouTube uploads of recordings from Marrakech's Djemaa el Fna plaza:

It is certainly the same Gnawi that is heard in Gerard Kremer's recordings for Arion (released 1975):

Some of the recordings in the CNRS collection appear to have been made in the Djemaa el Fna plaza. Others, perhaps not - it's difficult to say. At any rate, it's a great collection of recordings - a lot of Ouled Bambara and Negsha songs, some with clapping, some with qarqaba, a few tracks of drumming and qarqaba-ing. (Almost no mluk trance songs, though.) There are also a few tracks of odds and ends. 08-03 features the bells of Djemaa el Fna water sellers. 07-01 is a drum and qarqaba song featuring the ismkhan (also known as âbid chleuh - Berber-speaking Gnawa who have a repertoire completely separate from that of the more well-known Arabophone Gnawa), and 07-02 is entitled "Solo de flûte Gnawa". The latter track sounds to me like an instance of the Soussi Berber style of âwad flute. Perhaps it's a Gnawi musician who doubles on flute - I've never heard of a discrete Gnawi flute tradition or repertoire, but the world is full of musical surprises, so perhaps I'm wrong!

I couldn't find any information about the researcher Mohamed Ait Youssef, what sort of research he was doing, or how his recordings ended up in the CNRS archive. The archive contains other recordings of his dating from1965 and 1968. These recordings, also from Marrakech, feature several different genres (as well as a few more Gnawa tracks). Whatever his story may have been, it's wonderful that he left us such extensive recordings, and that CNRS has shared them online.

CNRS Collection: Maroc, Marrakech; Musique de confrérie. Enregistrements sonores inédits réalisés par Mohammed Aït Youssef au Maroc (Marrakech), en 1966:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gna Abdellah

Here's a lovely old Gnawa tape appearing to date from the 1980s. This looks like Abdellah Guinia, brother of Mahmoud, from Essaouira. The cover reads "Gna Abdellah". (I wonder if it was supposed to read "Guinia Abdellah", or "Gnawa Abdellah", or whether it's deliberate.) Although less well known than Mahmoud, Abdellah did release a couple of recordings available internationally. This is the first time I've seen a Moroccan cassette under his name.

It sounds like Mahmoud is singing on this tape, but perhaps it's just a family resemblance. In addition to Abdellah's guinbri-playing, there is a tam-tam and a banjo on some tracks, à la Nass el Ghiwane. Thanks to musician and Stash visitor Fritz Catlin who used one track in this swell mix (at about 38:55):
and then shared the full album with the Stash!

 Gna Abdellah (Abdellah Guinia) Sawt el Janoub cassette
1) 3arbiya Moulati
2) Sadati Huma Shorafa
3) Hada Wa3du Meskin - Woye Wahyana
4) Allah Denya Wo Ho
5) Hada Wa3du Meskin - slight return (seems like the beginning of track 2 again)
6) bonus ahouach (not abdellah guinia, or even gnawa, but there it is, and it rocks!)

Get it here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jean Mazel Moroccan Field Recordings via Tuluum Shimmering

Here's a vintage stash of folk music field recordings made and released in the 1950s and 1960s by one Jean Mazel, a French cinéaste and ethnologue, about whom I can find little information online. Most of his published recordings (and a disambiguation with a namesake) can be found here, and a number of his publications are listed here.

The recordings presented here were originally released on one 10-inch album (33 RPM) four 7-inch EPs (45 RPM). They have been resequenced and made available for streaming/download by the "UK-based one-man trancedental-drone band" Tuluum Shimmering:

In addition to being offered in their raw form, the Moroccan recordings have been incorporated into 3 CDs worth of Tuluun Shimmering's psychedelic recordings, also available from their Bandcamp page, or as CDs from their homepage.

The original 10-inch album features linking narration in French. If you're interested to hear it in its original state, check the YouTube clips below. (I'm happy to have the narration removed in Tuluum's version. It reminded me of the pretentious voiceovers I heard between acts at the Folklore festival in Marrakech in 1995.)

I went looking online for the original artwork/notes, and to see where the original tracks fit into Tuluum's sequence. If you're interested in that sort of thing, you can find the images I collected and my crosswalk spreadsheet here.

Thanks to tape aficiondo and old Berkeley pal @boxwalla for calling my attention to this.