Thursday, April 11, 2019

Houssam Gania - get a copy of his new cassette before they're gone!

Houssam Gania is the son of the late Gnawi mâalem Mahmoud Guinia, and a fine guinbri player in his own right. Like his father, his playing isn't flashy, but is deeply in the pocket.

Hive Mind Records in the UK released this new album by Houssam on cassette (!!!!!) a couple of months back. The j-card design is a lovely homage to the Tichkaphone cassettes of his father. The album contains a great version of the Essaouira version of "Sidi Musa" - a different flavor than you hear in Marrakech, Casablanca, or elsewhere.

As of today there are only 10 copies of the cassette left at Bandcamp. You will still be able to download digitally thereafter, but why not get a copy for your own tape stash!!

Huge props to Marc over at Hive Mind for this release, as well as for the vinyl releases of Mahmoud Guinia and Moulay Ahmed el Hassani over the last couple of years.

Order you copy HERE!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Andalusian Concert with Abderrahim Souiri

Here's a nice album from the late 1990s of Moroccan music from the Arab Andalusian tradition (a.k.a. tarab andalusi, a.k.a. al-âla). This repertoire is understood to trace back in some form to the legendary 9th century musician Ziryab at the court of Cordoba. The tradition flourished in Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada, and Valencia, and was carried on in North African cities during and after the Reconquista.

The singer Abderrahim Souiri is one of the most renowned Moroccan singers currently working in this tradition. His buoyant presence and soaring voice have made him a national musical icon. He is featured often on Moroccan television (including commercials/adverts) and at festivals, performing not only the classical Andalusian repertoire, but also melhun, chaâbi, and amdah repertoires. The j-card lists the orchestra as that of maestro Mohamed Briouel, so this may be the famed Orchestre arabo-andalou de Fes. Both Souiri and Briouel worked under the late maestro Haj Abdelkrim Rais of Fes.

It's nice to hear Arab Andalusian music in a live performance setting, with audible audience reactions. Some of us non-Moroccans first encountered this music via studio recordings released by OCORA or Maison du cultures du monde / INEDIT. Those recordings, while historic and beautiful, didn't give a sense of the excitement this music can generate with an audience of aficionados. This concert recording gives a glimpse of the live tradition in performance.

Ournia has a bunch of Souiri's recordings streaming here. And Mohamed Briouel can be heard on many of the recordings in the CD series Anthologie Al-Âla, musique andaluci-marocaine

As is often the case with Arab Andalusian recordings, the songs on this album are identified by their melodic mode, and rhythmic cycle.

Andalusian Concert with the Artist Abderrahim Souiri (Volume 1)
سهرة اندلسية مع الفنان عبد الرحيم الصويري (الجزء الاول)
SACAV (ساكاڤ) cassette S104

1) Tawashi Al Istihlal تواشي الاستهلال
2) Insiraf Btaihi Rasd Eddil انصراف ابطايحي رصد الديل
3) Mawwal موال
4) Quddam Al Hijaz Al Kabir قدام الحجاز الكبير
5) Mawwal موال

Get it all HERE.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ghita Ben Abdeslam

Here's a nice album in the chanson moderne style by singer Ghita ben Abdeslam. Born into an artistic family, Ghita is the niece of sibling singers Mohammed al-Idrissi and the celebrated Bahija Idris, and daughter of composer Mohammed ben Abdeslam, who composed the songs on this album.

According to the discussion on, the songs "Fellah" and "Allah Âliha Ziara" originally featured lyrics in Moroccan dialect, but were rewritten and recorded here in a more Egyptian dialect. I don't always enjoy west/east Arabic crossovers, but these are pretty nice. She even delivers a nice layali vocal improvisation over the Moroccan beat in this live version of "Allah Âliha Ziara":

Ghita composed lyrics to her own songs later in her career, some in Moroccan, and some in straight-up Egyptian. She retired from performing at a young age (1999 according to her Wikipedia entry), but reportedly promised that she would return one day.

Thanks to Marc of Hive Mind Records for hooking me up with this tape. Moroccan music fans should definitely be keeping an eye on what's new at Hive Mind - a great source for Moroccan music recordings over the last couple of years. More to come on that front very soon!!

Ghita Ben Abdeslam - غيثة بن عبد السلام
Edition Hassania Cassette EH 1169
1) Âziz Âlina عزيز علينا
2) Allah Âliha Ziara الله عليها زيارة
3) Fellah فلاح
4) Âam Fel Ghorba عام في الغربة

Get it all HERE.