Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mohamed Derhem (of Jil Jilala) - 1st (and only?) solo album

Composer, singer, percussionist, founding member of Jil Jilala, Mohamed Derhem left the group for a solo career in the mid 1990s. His intense, possessed presence onstage and his strong, impassioned singing made Derhem always appear to me as the pivotal figure in the group, though I don't know enough about the history and internal dynamics of the group to comment deeply on this point.

Derhem (at the congas here), is the vocal soloist in the second half of this song, which was featured in our previous post:

I don't remember exactly when I got this tape. It appears to date from the late 1990s or early 2000s. Sonically it shares much with Jil Jilala albums of the 1980s/90s that flirted interestingly with a mechanical rhythmic feel (like this). The main differences are the absence of group vocals and the use of synthesized horns. This horn sound was ubiquitous in 1990s Moroccan pop chaâbi and rai music, and it might have been a recipe for disaster to combine it with the nominally "folk/roots" sounds that drove Jil Jilala. Happily, though, the combination of complex rhythms, strong melodies, and Derhem's fiery vocal creates a compelling tension that, to my ear, works nicely.

A web search didn't turn up any other solo albums by Derhem after this one, though he has participated in a few one-off singles over the years, notably this collaboration with rapper Elam Jay in 2007, that also features Gnawi mâllem and Jil Jilala member Mustapha Baqbou:

Though his musical output seems to be sporadic, Derhem maintains a high profile via Moroccan television, where he has been serving as a jury member on Studio 2M, the Moroccan equivalent of American Idol.

Mohamed Derhem (ESD T.C. 1175)
01 Al Matla
02 Ahya Hadak
03 Om Al Karam

04 Danaden
05 Ana Bnadem
06 Ila Dak el Hal

The Stash has it all here.
Or, if you want more pristine (though at lower bitrate) digital versions of these tunes, Yala's got 'em here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Most Gnawa-influenced Jil Jilala Tape

This is a gorgeous album by Jil Jilala, dating, I believe, from the mid 1980s.

Jil Jilala have featured a guinbri player at various times in their history. Paco Abderrahmane and Moulay Abdelaziz Tahiri were group members in the early days of the 1970s, and Mustapha Baqbou has been a member at various times since the 1980s. Despite this fact, Jil Jilala have, to my ear, have rarely drawn overt inspiration from Gnawa melodies, songs, riffs or rhythms. This is quite different from the approach of Nass el Ghiwane in their Paco years, when they drew liberally from the Gnawa repertoire.

This album seems to the be exception. I call it their most Gnawa-influenced tape, though even here the influence is mostly subtle. The title track, "Hada Wa'dek Ya Meskine" opens with some solo guinbri riffing. The song's title translates as something like "That's your lot, poor guy", and refers to the Gnawa song "Hada Wa'do Meskine" (That's his lot, poor guy), versions of which we've featured here and here. And when the rhythm shifts at 8:18, the melody also echoes that of the Gnawa original. "Ya Men Narjak" features Gnawa-styled guinbri riffing and rhythm. And the tracks on side 2 feature guinbri lines more Gnawa-ish than on other Jil Jilala albums featuring Mustapha (such as this and this at, and this at Awesome Tapes.

For some great vintage Jil Jilala, check out the posts at Snap, Crackle & Pop. And for some detailed history of the group, check Hammer's megapost at The Audiotopia.

Actually, I just found another Jil Jilala album at Yala, which does feature some very Gnawa moments.

Mastering note: I grafted the first couple measures of "Sfina", which were missing from my tape, from Yala's version.

Jil Jilala - Hada Wa'dek Ya Meskin (Disques Gam GB.85.86)
01 Hada Wa'dek Ya Meskin

02 Ya Men Narjak
03 Sfina
04 Koun m3a Allah

Get it all here.