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Noura Mint Seymali

Noura Mint Seymali — Tzenni [June 20th, 2014]

 Noura Mint Seymali — Tzenni

 ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! Album Noura Mint Seymali — Tzenni was nominated in 8th Tais Awards/Harvest Prize 2015.
ζ•   Produced and recorded across an appropriately dizzying array of locations and social contexts (New York City, Dakar, Nouakchott) chanteuse Noura Mint Seymali’s album Tzenni is a contemporary articulation of Moorish griot music from Mauritania — an artform that has been evolving and gaining momentum for centuries.  Noura Mint Seymali is an artist profoundly steeped in history and tradition but also rigorously devoted to its global resonance.
Location: Nouakchott, Mauritanie
Album release: June 20th, 2014
Record Label: Glitterbeat
Duration:     41:29
01. Eguetmar      3:23
02. Tzenni      5:15
03. El Barm      6:04
04. El Madi      3:11
05. El Mougelmen      4:00
06. Hebebeb (Zrag)      3:11
07. Soub Hanallah      5:13
08. Tikifite      3:35
09. Char'aa      2:28
10. Emin Emineïna Chouweynë      5:10
ζ•   Noura Mint Seymali (lead vocals, ardine)
ζ•   Jeiche Ould Chighaly (guitar, tidinit)
ζ•   Ousmane Touré (bass)
ζ•   Matthew Tinari (drums)
ζ•   Ayniyana Chighaly (backing vocals, ardine)
ζ•   Mayassa Hemed Vall (backing vocals, percussion)
01 — Eguetmar
ζ•   Eguetmar recites a simple dialogue between two men meeting in a foreign land:
A: I feel like a stranger here, alone and without my family. My longing makes me feel desperation as a baby being weaned from its mother. I fear I must try to forget my family in order to succeed.
B: Have faith; I guarantee you will return to your family. In the name of God, I shall offer you all you need to return.  ― Bismillah.‖
02 — Tzenni
ζ•   Tzenni is a reflection on change and instability. The poet is tormented and troubled, but takes refuge in the fact of impermanence. ― Everything turns, everything changes. Nothing in this life is stable; everything can change at a moment‘s notice. Sometimes life brings happiness and sometimes sadness. What real decisions can be made, what course can be taken in a world that‘s always changing?‖
03 — El Barm
ζ•   A classic of Mauritanian traditional repertoire,  ― El Barm‖ is a love song. Sung in the voice of a restless, unstable man who believes he may never change and is destined to wander forever, he now marvels at how his life has ultimately been altered by a woman, in whom he has at last found stability. Their love has changed his course in a way he thought was impossible; as impossible as combining the East with the West. Various metaphors for the impossible ensue.
04 — El Madi
ζ•   ― El Madi‖ means ― the past.‖ The song is the reflection of a prisoner jailed in the time before Mauritania‘s independence. He addresses a lover on the outside, remembering their past: ― The judge will not free me to see you. I‘m imprisoned unjustly and long to see you again. As I dream of you I‘m blinded by the gold of your headdress, shining so brightly in my memory.‖ In traditional context, ― El Madi‖ is a dance performed by women.
05 — El Mougelmen
ζ•   El Mougelmen is a dish in Mauritania made from a mix of spices and flowers. Similarly, the song‘s lyrics are a mix of different lines of poetry, thematically unrelated and chosen for musicality, mashed up via free association in a way similar to the ingredients of the dish. ― My thoughts are on the women of today,‖ Noura sings — women implicitly being the makers of El Mougelmen. ― God bestows blessings and takes them away,‖ blessings such as food and sustenance.
06 — Hebebeb (Zrag)
ζ•   Composed by Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall. The poet is overtaken by the beauty of a woman, named Mariam, picking dates in a grove of trees. Rather than addressing Mariam directly, he pleads with her friend, Heydana, to sing for Mariam in order to attract her attention. He asks Heydana, ― repeat after me, ‗Hebebeb…‘ Always sing this song for her early in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening‖
07 — Soub Hanallah
ζ•   A sacred song devoted to the prophet Mohammed (p.s.l.) and asking God for forgiveness. May God forgive and protect parents, sisters, brothers, and all loved ones. May God grant mercy upon our sins. Soub Hanallah recites numerous praise names for the prophet.
08 — Tikifite
ζ•   Tikifite is an herb that is believed to heal the liver and stomach. ― Stir the tikite‖ a man asks, he wishes to be healed and together with his soul mate. A song often performed by Dimi Mint Abba, poetry written for her is often included; ― Dimi when you sing for me it heals me.‖
09 — Char‘aa
ζ•   Char‘aa is primarily a dance. The title refers to the dance / rhythm which precedes the singing. The text here is that of an old praise song, sung originally for the prophet Mohammed (p.s.l.) upon his return to Medina after victory in battle.
10 — Emin Emineïna Chouweynë
ζ•   Dedicated to Noura‘s paternal grandmother Mounina, a great singer and musician, the song assembles various lines of poetry written about her. The title, literally — where are you ugly?,‖ originates from a line questioning popular criticism of Mounina by posing a simple question; ― they may say that you are ugly, but where can this ugliness be found?‖ Another line concerns Noura herself, offered to her as a compliment, by a poet who says her voice is as beautiful as Mounina‘s. The text mourns how Mounina‘s absence leaves a void.
In french:
ζ•   "Déterminée à parachever l’œuvre entreprise par son père, célèbre griot mauritanien qui s’est efforcé de faire connaître la musique de son pays, la chanteuse Noura Mint Seymali s’offre avec l’album Tzenni, une carte de visite sonore convaincante et prometteuse."
ζ•   TZENNI in Hassaniya means to circulate, to spin, to turn. It’s the name for a whirling dance performed to the music of Moorish griots, often under khaima tents thrown up for street gatherings in the sandy quartiers of Nouakchott and out across the wide deserts of Mauritania. Tzenni is an orbit, the movement of the earth around the sun, the daily progression of light and dark, lunar cycles, tides and winds. Tzenni, the dance, comes forth as the cyclical trajectory of a Moorish musical gathering builds to a fervorous pitch. It’s a word whose expansive valence reminds us how only the most basic reality can create such romantic metaphor.
ζ•   Produced and recorded across an appropriately dizzying array of locations and social contexts (New York City, Dakar, Nouakchott) the album Tzenni is a contemporary articulation of Moorish griot music from Mauritania — an artform that has been evolving and gaining momentum for centuries — as voiced by Noura Mint Seymali, an artist profoundly steeped in its history and rigorously devoted to its global resonance.
ζ•   Noura Mint Seymali comes from a long line of visionary musicians. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, her father, was a scholar-artist instrumental in opening Mauritanian music to the world; devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting music for the national anthem, and composing works popularized by his wife (Noura’s step-mother), the great Dimi Mint Abba. From her precocious beginnings as a teenaged backing vocalist with Dimi Mint Abba, Noura Mint Seymali now drives the legacy forward, re-calibrating Moorish music for our contemporary moment. Her band’s arrangements, rigor, and experimental spirit may be understood as a continuation of the tradition of Seymali, Dimi, her grandmother Mounina, and countless others.
ζ•   Together with her husband, heroic guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who brings the force of yet another powerful branch of Moorish musical lineage, the band on this recording was conceived as a distillation of essential elements, the “azawan” and the backbeat. The ardine & tidinit (or guitar) together are the “azawan,” the leading ensemble of Moorish traditional music, while bass & drums, played here by Ousmane Touré and Matthew Tinari, fortify it with genre transcendent funk and a basic pop urgency. Tzenni re-visits several classics of the Moorish repertoire, but does so within a novel formation, conversant in the pop idiom, and with Noura Mint Seymali’s personal history interwoven throughout. The practice of aligning music to a given socio-historical and personal moment is an essential charge of the iggawen, or griot, and, we believe, of artists everywhere.
ζ•   As we seek to convey another turn in the Mauritanian musical dialectic, Tzenni is ultimately an album about shape shifting, faith, and stability found through instability. It’s about taking the positive with the negative in a world that can only ever keep turning at break neck speed. We invite you to spin with us, to dance with us, through the music on this recording! — Matthew Tinari: producer/drummer for Noura Mint Seymali
ζ•   Noura Mint Seymali, from Mauritania, comes from an ancient family of griots, and she has a commanding, wide-open voice...the pentatonic melodies of her songs had something in common with the blues. But her fusion was particular and selective...She only meets American music on her own terms. New York Times, January 13th, 2014
ζ•   She cleverly merges her powerful voice with the twangy guitar sound created by her husband...this Mauritanian music is an excellent example of roots rocketed into the 21st century. Songlines, April/May 2014
ζ•   Noura Mint Seymali is a nationally beloved star and one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries.  Born into a prominent line of Moorish griot, Noura began her career at age 13 as a supporting vocalist with her step-mother, the legendary Dimi Mint Abba.  Trained in instrumental technique by her grandmother, Mounina, Noura mastered the ardine, a 9-string harp reserved only for women.  Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, Noura's father and namesake, sparked her compositional instincts, himself a seminal scholar figure in Mauritanian music; studying Arab classical music in Iraq, devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting the national anthem, and composing many works popularized by his wife, Dimi.  Reared in this transitive culture where sounds from across the Sahara, the Magreb, and West Africa coalesce, Noura Mint Seymali currently drives the legacy forward as one of Mauritania's most adventurous young artists.
ζ•   Fueled by the exploratory sound of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly’s emotive psych guitar lines, Noura and Jeiche formed their first "fusion" band in 2004.  Jeiche, a master of the tidinit (aka. ngoni, xalam), brings the force of yet another important line of Moorish griot to bear, translating the tidinit's intricate phrasing to a modified electric guitar with heroic effect.  His unique sound, mirroring vocal lines and then refracting their melodies into the either, was born out of years presiding over wedding ceremonies, directing the dance often as the sole melodic instrument.  In addition to his work with Noura, Jeiche remains one of Nouakchott's most sought after guitarists for traditional ceremonies.
ζ•   After two albums — Tarabe (2006) & El Howl (2010) — released locally in Mauritania and years of experimentation adapting Moorish music to various pop formations, Noura Mint Seymali's current band is a concise return to the roots, a light formation led by the "azawan," a word in Hassaniya that refers to the collective ensemble of traditional instruments; the ardine, tidinit, guitar.  Backed by a declarative, funk-speaking rhythm section, composed of Ousmane Touré (bass) and Matthew Tinari (drums), the band has made a formidable debut on the international stage, releasing two EPs — Azawan (2012) & Azawan II (2013) — and touring widely.  The band's first full-length album for the international market — TZENNI —  is set for release via Gliiterbeat Records on June 20, 2014 and to be followed by an extensive North American tour.
ζ•   Though performances at events like globalFEST (USA), Festival-au-Desert (Mali), Hayy Festival (Egypt), Jeux de Francophonie (France) and Festival Timitar (Morocco) and collaborations with artists like Tinariwen, Bassekou Kouyaté, and Baaba Maal, the band is actively exposing Mauritanian roots music to the world.  In a rare merger of cultural authority and experimental prowess, Noura Mint Seymali applies the ancient musical traditions of the griot with a savvy aesthetic engagement in our contemporary moment, emerging as a powerful voice at nexus of a changing Africa.
Website: http://www.nouramintseymali.com/
Label: http://glitterbeat.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nouramintseymali.music
Press: nouramintseymali@gmail.com
Management & International Booking:
Luxus Live / Matthew C. Tinari
North America Booking:
Fli Artists / Mel Puljic
Record Label:
Glitterbeat / Chris Eckman
Autor: Thomas Divis, August 2014; Glitterbeat/Hoanzl; Score: ****½
ζ•   Mauretanien hat sich schon öfters als vortrefflicher Platz für Roots-Rock erwiesen — und das nicht nur für Männer. Hübsch heftig geht auch Noura Mint Seymali zur Sache.
ζ•   Hört man den Gesang von Frau Noura Mint Seymali ist man zuerst an die Grande Dame der mauretanischen Musik, die 2011 verstorbene Dimi Mint Abba erinnert. Und tatsächlich ist Noura Mint Seymali ihre Schwiegertocher, die Dimi Mint Abba bereits bei Auftritten und Aufnahmen im Chor unterstützt hat. Musikalisch geprägt wurde sie aber auch vom Herrn Papa: Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall studierte arabische Musik im Irak, komponierte Lieder für seine Gattin und arbeitet u. a. das erste Notationssstem für maurische Musik aus. Die traditionelle Ardine-Harfe, die Noura Mint Seymali spielt lernte ihr ihre Großmutter. Das sind also wahrlich nicht die schlechtesten Voraussetzungen für eine musikalische Karriere. Mit ihrem dritten Album “Tzenni” wendet sich Noura Mint Seymali wieder verstärkt traditioneller Musik zu. Diese allerdings wurde elektrifiziert. Tonangebend neben Seymali ist ihr Gatte Jeiche Ould Chighaly an der E-Gitarre und der E-Tidinite (das ist die mauretanischen Ausgabe einer besser als Ngoni bekannten westafrikanischen Laute). Dazu eine Bass und Schlagzeug und der Spaß kann beginnen. Der Sound erinnert stark an Desert-Blues-Gruppen wie Tinariwen oder Tamikrest. Allerdings ist die Musik von Noura Mint Seymali noch stärker in ihrer Tadition verhaftet. ζ•   Der Faszination dieser Mischung von erdiger Griot-Kultur und nicht weniger erdigem Rock erliegt man bereits nach den ersten Takten und sie bleibt ungebrochen bis zum letzten Song. Wir dürfen den geneigten OneWorldMusic-LeserInnen “Tzenni” von Noura Mint Seymali also wirklich wärmstens empfehlen! (http://www.oneworld.at/)

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Andy Statman — Old Brooklyn (2011)
Tais Awards & Harvest Prize
Strachovská 520, Pelhřimov, CZE