Direct from the Djemaa al Fna

by Majmouat Abde ElHakim

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Drumure Nice to hear some Morroccan music OTHER than the Master Musicians of Jajouka. This has the same intense urgency, but it's the difference between a jazz trio and Big Band jazz, IE more intimate = more flow, less reliance on autopilot memorization. This recording is awesome loud, because in my apartment, it's probably louder than when they recorded it, and it's AWESOME that way. Favorite track: Lawah Lawah/ Ikescuz Me.
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    jewel case CD with full color tri fold CD insert with photos of the band tearing up the central plaza of Marrakech

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Majmouat roughly translates as "band." Abde ElHakim is the name of the band leader; he is the one-eyed man with the handlebar mustache that graces the CD cover. The group includes 4 other regular members, who play banjo, tarija (small hourglass drum), bendir (frame skin drum with snare), and darbouka (larger hourglass drum from Egypt).

These songs are mostly in the style of Dekka El Marrakshia (or Dak al Marrakshia) which is a very popular style of music in Morocco right now, but nearly unheard of outside that nation's borders. The songs are mostly constructed of a loping 6/8 drum pattern with cascades of call response vocals which, towards the end of a song or section, accelerate into ecstatic yells. Abde ElHakim's gravely voice, destroyed by a lifetime of performing outside, makes Tom Waits sound like a big sissy. The nasaly counterpoint of Hassan Rostome's vocals are the perfect FlavorFlav to ElHakim's Chuck D. This is the real thing, a raw and passionate band whose music has been crafted for years amidst the smoke and noise of the street.

The majority of the tracks are from a professional multitrack session conducted in a courtyard deep in the medina of Marrakech. In between each of these session tracks are excerpts from the groups live performances in the Djema al Fna, including the dialogue from their aggressive money collections. Read the story of the recording session here.


released January 1, 2009


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