Saturday, June 21, 2014

Moroccan Field Recordings at Pitt Rivers Museum

Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum offers online samples from ethnographic field recordings in their collection. Among these are some recordings from a 1961 Oxford University expedition to Morocco.

The Aït Hdidou are Tamazight speakers from the south-eastern High Atlas. The tribe are perhaps most well known for their participation in the Brides festival at Imilchil. Tracks 1-7 feature variously vocals only (1), vocals and drum (5-6), and vocals drum and violin (2-4). Tracks 5-6 sound like an ahaidous, the Tamazight equivalent of the Tachelhit ahwach.

Tracks 7-9 are street recordings from Rabat. Track 7 is listed as an Ait Hadiddu beggar, but I'm guessing that it actually is from Rabat and from the same date as tracks 8-9. The beggar sings in Arabic and mentions l-âwacher (the ten days preceding a holiday), as do the singers in track 9, and the catalog numbers indicate these tracks come from the same tape reel. I'm pretty sure I can hear a guinbri being thumped in the first half of track 9, suggesting that it's a Gnawi singing. He's invoking the saint Moulay Brahim, but it's not a melody I recognize. If this was indeed recorded in August 1961, the holiday referred to would be mawlid an-nabi - the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, which occurred around 8/24 that year.

Track 10 is some ghaita and tbel processional music from the city of Rich - back at the eastern edges of the High Atlas.

Thanks to Phong Tran for letting me know about this! It's great that some sound archives are making old and rare field recordings available to at least sample online. There are some Moroccan recordings available in the Lomax collection, as I wrote about here.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jil Jilala And His Orchestra (Live)

One more Jil Jilala tape for ya - I dubbed this from someone else's copy years ago, and I don't recall seeing any cover art. (The photo above is quite unrelated to my tape, but is pretty cool - see below for more info.)

The tape is from a live performance, and the featured songs suggest that it dates from the late '80s/early '90s (the Baqbou period). The group is augmented by keyboard strings and horn section. (Or is it an actual horn section? Hard to tell...) A bit unusual, but not without its charm. (Hammer, if you're reading, do you know anything about this release? I noticed that these tracks were part of your Jil Jilala mega-post some time back.)

There have been other Jil Jilala fusion things, especially in the last few years. In 2007, they followed in the footsteps of fellow Moroccan folk-revival group Lemchaheb and collaborated on an album with the German rock group Dissidenten. The Lemchaheb collaboration Sahara Elektrik and the Jil Jilala collaboration Tanger Sessions share the annoying practice of renaming actual songs of the Moroccan groups with random titles in English. Here, for example is "Morock'n Roll", which is actually the well-known Jil Jilala song Leklam Lemrassa3:

More reverent (perhaps) is a 2010 collaboration with a European group called The Ghiwanyat Orchestra:


As I look back at my recent Jil Jilala posts, I see that I've presented some interesting information and shared some very good music, but didn't really cover what would be considered "The Best Of" Jil Jilala, or even the most well known of their songs. Such are the pitfalls of restricting the blog to music in my collection that's not available elsewhere. I'd urge you to check out these albums to fill in more of their groundbreaking 1970s work:

Chamaa: Early tracks, including the title cut ("The Candle"), with which Jil Jilala achieved the amazing feat of making centuries-old melhun poetry and melodies popular among 1970s Moroccan youth! Amazon or Yala.

Aghani al Khalida: Compilation of a number of their early sides, including the group's most enduring song, Leklam Lemrassa3. (These versions are, like those in my last post, very likely 1980s re-recordings of early singles.) Snap Crackle & Pop or Yala.

Laayoune Ainya: Title track is a well loved nationalist anthem commemorating the Green March of 1975. Snap Crackle & Pop shared this a while back with a nice historical summary and link to a fab vintage videoclip.

Jil Jilala - And His Orchestra - Live
01 Dakh Biya Amrek
02 Ya Men Narjak

03 Darat Bina Eddoura - Ila daq el hal
04 Hada Wa'dek Ya Meskin
05 Naditak Falghonna

Get it all here.