Monday, May 30, 2011

The Dawn Call to Prayer in Marrakech

This one isn't mine, but it's a wonderful one. If you've ever spent a night in Marrakech and were awake before dawn, you've heard the symphony of callers to prayer launching haunting recitations into the sky from louspeakers across town, culminating in the call to prayer. My own recording of this from out my window is trapped in a format I can't play at the moment, but The Exploratory Music Service has shared a lovely recording of this on the web. Highly recommended!

The Exploratory Music Service

Paco Abderrahmane - Thayyer A Mul al-Hal

Paco was the fire behind Nass el Ghiwane from 'til '95, when he left the group.  It was during his tenure in the band that they made their most driving music, drawing heavily on his phat guinbri lines.  (Compare recordings from the pre- and post-Paco period with those featuring him - although there has always been a guinbri player in the group, none but Paco were steeped in the Gnawa traditional repertoire or could bring the hal (the funky groove condition) like him.

This cassette, which I believe is Paco's second solo cassette, dates from about 1993, when he was still with Nass el Ghiwane.  His earlier cassette (which I will post here soon), featured Gnawi melodies with some reworked lyrics (à la Nass el Ghiwane).  This one features strictly Gnawi lyrics.  But musically, there are a few stylistic elements that set it apart from typical Gnawa recordings. The normally clattering qraqeb of Gnawa music are here quite controlled, but just as driving as in the best Gnawa recordings. Paco adds a triangle or other chime, and what sounds like a tbel barrel drum, richening the texture and giving the session a mildly Ghiwane-y feeling.  Adding to the Ghiwane-y mood are the long sections of singing - the duration of each song is much longer than would be typical for a normal Gnawa version of each song.  Paco brings the intensity of his Nass el Ghiwane vocal performances to these tracks. The result is a very enjoyable set of Gnawa songs which unfolds a little differently than a typical set and adds some stylistic ingredients that don't detract from the main attractions: passionate singing and thumping guinbri.

1) Damman Lebled (=Chalaba Titara)
2) L'atfa Lillah (L'afu Rijal Allah)
3) Essuba'i
4) Alyaburi (=Sala Nabina Musawi)

Get it here.

L-Gnawi Mustapha (Sam Essghir)

Mustapha was the first Gnawi I met in Marrakech. He's a fantastic, unsung guinbri player. He's nicknamed "Sam Essghir" (Little Sam) after the great Maalem Sam of Casablanca, as a tribute to his skill on the guinbri. As far as I know, this is Mustapha's only commercial recording. If what I'm told is correct, the session featured Mustapha on guinbri and most of the lead vocals, with Abdenbi Binizi and Ahmed Baska accompanying with clapping, qarqaba and chorus, and it was recorded on a couple of microphones to a cassette deck in the living room at Dar Nomades sometime in the late '80s or early '90s. The saturated lo-fi guinbri sound is a far cry from Night Spirit Masters, but, it has a helluva MOOD to it! And the tape includes one of the better renditions of the Hamdushiya suite that I've heard. One of my all-time fave Gnawa cassettes.

The running order of the cassette was kind of a mess - some songs were split onto 2 sides of the tape... I edited them back together and sequenced them in a way that seemed logical and that follows to some extent the titles listed on the sleeve.

1) Sala Nabina Mulay Muhammad
2) Baniya - Basha Hammou - Hammouda
3) Dutiwa - Ghumami
4) A Hiya Jat Lalla Aicha
5) Hamdushiya
6) Hadiya
7) Moulay Abdellah ben L-Houcine - Moulay Brahim

Get it here.