The Master Musicians Of Jajouka became a counter-cultural icon when Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones confessed that even he had trouble standing up to “the constant strain of the festival” during the performances he recorded in their tiny village in the foothills of Morocco’s Rif Mountains. Their reputation was cemented when Rolling Stones Records released Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka in 1971, and that reputation continues today. “A 4,000 year-old rock’n’roll band.” – William S. Burroughs”
Tradition says that Jajouka’s music was a gift from Sidi Achmed Sheik, one of the first Islamic missionaries to visit the village and a revered saint whose tomb provides baraka, or healing spiritual power, to the villagers. This syncretic music may also be a survival of the worship of Pan and Astarte, and the rites of the ancient Roman Lupercalia. Each year, the goat-like Bou Jeloud emerges from his cave above the village, lured by the beat of drums and the blare of rhaitas (Moroccan double reed horns) to bring fertility to the village.
Led by Bachir Attar, The Master Musicians of Jajouka continue to bring this ancient tradition into the 21st century. They’ve played all over the world, become the most recorded act in the Islamic world, appeared in multiple films, and welcomed a host of luminaries to their village – from Ornette Coleman and William S. Burroughs to Mick Jagger and Talvin Singh.
Five years into the project, with two acclaimed albums and dozens of triumphant international performances to its name, Yermande announces a thrilling new phase for this Dakar-Berlin collaboration: emphatically a giant step forward. The group of players is boiled down to twelve for recordings, eight for shows; sessions in Dakar become steeply more focussed. ‘This time around I was better able to specify what I wanted right from the initial recording sessions in Dakar,’ says Ernestus, ‘and further in the production process I took more freedom in reducing and editing audio tracks, changing MIDI data, replacing synth sounds and introducing electronic drum samples.’
Right away you hear music-making which has come startlingly into its own. Rather than submitting to the routine, discrete gradations of recording, producing and mixing, the music is tangibly permeated with deadly intent from the off. Lethally it plays a coiled, clipped, percussive venom and thumping bass against the soaring, open-throated spirituality of Mbene Seck’s singing. Plainly expert, drilled and rooted, the drumming is unpredictable, exclamatory, zinging with life. Likewise the production: intuitive and fresh but utterly attentive; limber but hefty; vividly sculpted against a backdrop of cavernous silence. Six chunks of stunning, next-level mbalax, then, funky as anything.
This event is presented by Digital in Berlin. Check out our Facebook page to win tickets.
The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar and Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force
Tuesday, 11.04.2017 | 20:00 CET
Festsaal Kreuzberg | Am Flutgraben 2 | 12435 Berlin