|The Master Musicians of Jajouka — The Road to Jajouka / A Benefit Album (2013)|
The Master Musicians of Jajouka — The Road to Jajouka / A Benefit Album
•> “There may be more challenging, exotic and esoteric CDs out there but I sure haven't found 'em. The Road To Jajouka is cerebral, mysterious and sensual, the most far-flung slice of entertainment to cross my desk in years.” — Aquarian Weekly
•> “The Road To Jajouka is one of the most interesting and at times beautiful discs I've listened to this year. Close your eyes, and this music will transport you.” — McPherson Sentinel.com
Origin: Jajouka, particular village in the southern Rif mountains of Morocco
Genres: World, Music, Jazz
Album release: September 10, 2013
Record Label: Howe Records
1. Hand of Fatima (feat. Medeski Martin & Wood, Bachir Attar & Marc Ribot) 5:46
2. Baraka (feat. Mickey Hart & DJ Logic) 4:45
3. Djebala Hills (feat. Falu, John Zorn, Flea & Billy Martin) 5:45
4. Boujeloudia Magick (feat. Lee Ranaldo) 8:58
5. Into the Rif (feat. Marc Ribot & Shahzad Ismailey) 5:12
6. Ghaita Blues (feat. Bachir Attar, Billy Martin & Dave Dreiwitz) 7:09
7. Jnuin (feat. Ornette Coleman & Bachir Attar) 6:50
8. Sufi Hadra (feat. Falu, Aiyb Dieng & Bill Laswell) 4:17
9. Al'Aita (feat. Howard Shore & London Philharmonic) 4:34
℗ 2013 Howe Records
© Band leader “El Hadj” Abdesalam Attar with sons Bachir, Hamim and Mustapha (seated) / Photo: Tony Kent ca. 1980
•> Master Musicians of Jajouka
•> Bachir Attar
•> Medeski Martin & Wood
•> Mickey Hart
•> DJ Logic
•> Ornette Coleman
•> John Zorn
•> Howard Shore
•> Bachir Attar: flutes, ghaita
•> Master Musicians of Jajouka: drums, percussion, reeds, flutes
•> Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone (7)
•> John Zorn: alto saxophone (3)
•> Marc Ribot: banjo (1), guitar (1, 5)
•> Lee Ranaldo: guitar (4)
•> Al Maddy: guitar (6)
•> John Medeski: Hammond organ (1)
•> DJ Logic: turntables (2)
•> Bill Laswell: bass (8)
•> Flea: bass (4)
•> Chris Wood: bass (1)
•> Shahzad Ismaily: bass (5)
•> Dave Dreiwitz: bass (6)
•> Billy Martin: drums (1, 3-5, 8)
•> Mickey Hart: drums (2)
•> Aiyb Dieng: daf (1), talking drum (3, 8) © Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bachir Attar © Cherie Nutting
•> "The music of Jajouka is trance music, ecstatic music, a music narcotic. From its source — a particular village in the southern Rif mountains of Morocco — this magical music has migrated around the world, moving like clouds, like water, like smoke-flowing through the collective consciousness of its appreciators," writes Jim Jarmusch in the liner notes to The Road to Jajouka, a new recording that pays tribute to the legendary Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar. The collection, set for release September 10 on Howe Records, features both new performances and remixes created by western master musicians utilizing original Jajouka recordings. Produced by drummer/producer Billy Martin, the nine tracks feature guest artists including Medeski Martin & Wood, Marc Ribot, Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Lee Ranaldo, Flea and Mickey Hart among others. All profits from album sales will benefit The Jajouka Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2013 to foster awareness and preservation of this ancient ceremonial music.
REVIEW by CHRIS MAY
•> Jazz has been mixing it up with traditional Moroccan music for almost fifty years. Pianist Randy Weston was a pioneer in the late 1960s, followed by saxophonist Ornette Coleman in the early 1970s. A modern successor to those early adventurers is Boston's Club d'Elf, which describes itself as a "Moroccan-dosed psychedelic dub and jazz collective." Club D'Elf's 2011 double set, Electric Moroccoland (Face Pelt), featuring keyboard player John Medeski and turntablist DJ Logic, convincingly channelled the intensity of Morrocan trance music.
•> Coleman, Medeski and Logic are among the contributors to The Road to Jajouka, which was produced by Medeski Martin & Wood drummer Billy Martin and is altogether closer to the Club D'Elf than the Randy Weston end of the cohabitation spectrum. The album is a benefit for The Jajouka Foundation, which aims to support one particular strand of Moroccan trance music, that made by Master Musicians of Jajouka, a village in the foothills of the Rif mountains in northern Morocco.
•> At the heart of The Road to Jajouka are existing or remixed recordings by the MMoJ led by ghaita player Bachir Attar, on which guest musicians have overdubbed contributions. Among the contributors, mostly heard on one track apiece, are alto saxophonists Coleman and John Zorn, guitarists Marc Ribot and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, bassists Chris Wood, Bill Laswell and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.
•> The MM&W opener, "Hand of Fatima," which also features Marc Ribot on banjo and guitar, is a chugging, heavy on the back beat, curtain raiser, as is track two, "Baraka," featuring Mickey Hart and DJ Logic. The MMoJ's wild, at times positively scary music is more powerfully captured by John Zorn on "Djebala Hills," the second part of which provides the album's most intoxicating moments, Lee Ranaldo on "Boujeloudia Magick" and Marc Ribot on "Into the Rif." On "Juin," Ornette Coleman alternates between elemental abandon and noodling banality. The closer, "Al'Aita," which weaves the MMoJ into composer Howard Shore's score for the massed strings and brass of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is unexpectedly striking.
•> The MMoJ first came to international attention via Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones' field recording Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka (Rolling Stones Records, 1971). A more successfully realised field recording was heard on Bill Laswell's 1992 album Apocalypse Across the Sky (Axiom). Worryingly, the survival of the Jajouka tradition — which has been handed down from father to son for at least 1,300 years — is in peril, as older musicians pass and younger ones make for the big cities in search of more secure livelihoods. The Road to Jajouka carries a brief liner note by the film director Jim Jarmusch, whose 2005 movie Broken Flowers did much to stimulate European and American interest in Ethiopian music. "This is a living music," concludes Jarmusch, "and whenever I listen to its hallucinogenic properties, (I believe) that if the Master Musicians of Jajouka were to ever stop the flow of their magic the earth might well stop rotating on its axis, might cease to revolve around the sun."
•> If that sounds like hyperbole, you have yet to be bitten by the music of Jajouka; once you have been, it may sound closer to the literal truth. The Road to Jajouka is a fine place to begin the acquaintance.
Website: http://jajouka.com/ /Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/attar.bachir
Label: http://howerecords.com/the-road-to-jajouka/ © Ornette Coleman performing with Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka in Italy, 1996
•> “This is world music, envisioned and reimagined by musicians who instinctively stay a step (or two) removed from the safety and boredom of the mainstream. It is music that brings other worlds to your ears, and tells a story that has been a work-in-progress for many centuries. That Martin was able to gather this collection of visionaries, iconoclasts and rebels seems more like fate than fortune.”
•> “This is literally a timeless music, haunting, intriguing and somewhat foreign to our ears, but one that can elevate the listener as few other experiences can. Try The Road to Jajouka with open mind and ears, and you’ll find yourself transported to a place and a culture of which you’ve never dreamed. Some of you might not come fully back — and isn’t that why you travel to begin with?”
•> “The music of Jajouka is trance music, ecstatic music, a music narcotic. From its source — a particular village in the southern Rif mountains of Morocco — this magical music has migrated around the world, moving like clouds, like water, like smoke-flowing through the collective consciousness of its appreciators,” writes Jim Jarmusch in the liner notes to The Road to Jajouka, a new recording that pays tribute to the legendary Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar. The collection, set for release September 10 on Howe Records, features both new performances and remixes created by western master musicians utilizing original Jajouka recordings. Produced by drummer/producer Billy Martin, the nine tracks feature guest artists including Medeski Martin & Wood, Marc Ribot, Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Lee Ranaldo, Flea and Mickey Hart among others. All profits from album sales will benefit The Jajouka Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2013 to foster awareness and preservation of this ancient ceremonial music.
•> “The music of Jajouka goes back a long way,” producer/bassist Bill Laswell said. “Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin have all been closely associated with it, as is Ornette Coleman and The Rolling Stones. I first heard the Master Musicians on the Brian Jones record, Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, originally released in 1971, which was a very primitive recording. When he got back home the tapes didn’t sound the way he remembered it in his head, so he put some phasing on the tracks and that began a long history of people ‘interpreting’ the Master’s music.”
•> The next western musician to make the trek up to the fabled Rif mountain hilltop was free jazz alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman led by the journalist/musician Robert Palmer in January 1973. Three years later, Coleman’s album Dancing In Your Head would feature “Midnight Sunrise,” Ornette’s compelling collaboration with the Masters Musicians. “Ornette loved the music and put Jajouka on his record,” Bachir said proudly.
•> The fascination with “the 4000 year old rock ‘n’ roll band” (as William S. Burroughs dubbed the Masters) continued to spread over the years, to everyone from Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge to Debbie Harry to soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy to the Indian percussionist Talvin Singh whose 2000 release Master Musicians of Jajouka album mixed the tight mathematical rhythms of the Subcontinent with the ancient melodies of the Rif with a touch of electronic ambiance and global bass grooves.
•> “You have either heard of them or you haven’t,” Billy Martin explained. “Danny Blume told me the Brian Jones album was one of the first records he bought as a teenager. It was actually their connection to Ornette that brought me to their music.”
•> And now in 2013 the road from Jajouka continues to stretch further and further. The idea for this project grew from a friendship between Billy Martin, drummer for the exploratory jazz trio Medeski Martin and Wood, and Bachir Attar, the modern leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka. Billy was introduced to Bachir through a mutual friend in Spain and before long they were playing shows together in the U.S. Soon thereafter Billy was invited to oversee the project that would become The Road to Jajouka. “After discovering and immersing myself in their music, I began playing along with it. I tried out different tempos, playing cross patterns. It was intense,” Billy said. “There are moments where you connect and then suddenly you find yourself lost! They might be playing in 4 and then they’re in 5. They’ve got a wide spectrum, and use multiple pulses. There are many variables and counterparts.”
•> Indeed, Billy’s production on this new collection creates a sonic collage of ancient and future rhythms, modern and primitive melodies. It opens with the invocation, “Hand of Fatima” by Medeski Martin & Wood, joined by Marc Ribot on guitar and banjo and Bachir Attar on lira, the ancient Berber bamboo flute passed down to him by his father, Hadj Abdessalem Attar.
•> On the second track, Mickey Hart, drummer/percussionist of Grateful Dead fame and author of Planet Drum, joins forces with Bronx-born turntablist DJ Logic. Entitled “Baraka,” a word that means blessing, the performance audibly evokes such sentiments.
•> “Djebala Hills” (in which the village of Jajouka is nestled) features East Indian singer Falu with avant-saxophonist/composer John Zorn, Billy Martin and the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s anchor Flea on bass. Flea’s bass part was recorded in London when he sat in with Ornette and the Masters at the Meltdown Festival in June 2009.
•> Lee Ranaldo has had a long history with Jajouka. Sonic Youth’s guitarist authored an evocative memoir of his travels in the Maghreb called Moroccan Journal: Jajouka written in September 1995. With “Boujeloudia Magick,” Ranaldo conjures his impressions of the feral goat-boy Bou Jeloud who danced to Bachir’s ancestors’ music thousands of years ago.
•> “Into the Rif” pairs eclectic guitarist Marc Ribot with multi-instrumentalist/producer Shazhad Ismailey alongside the Masters. “I wasn’t in the room when the basics were recorded,” Ribot recalled. “I overdubbed in my studio in Brooklyn. But it was great to work with the Jajouka musicians’ tracks, to listen closely, and play along over and over till it felt right. Their grooves are wonderful and unique and I feel like Billy and the other musicians he asked to play on these tracks took the challenge of adding to these voices seriously, as the honor and musical opportunity it was.”
•> “Ghaita Blues” features Bachir Attar on the piercing apricot wood folk oboe, the ghaita (also known as the rhaita), joined by Billy Martin and Ween/Marco Benevento bassist Dave Dreiwitz. “Being a lover of the band, it was thrilling to play their music. It was a life-long dream I’d never dreamt,” Dreiwitz enthused.
•> “Jnuin” finds Ornette Coleman reunited with Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians. Coleman’s unique approach to improvisation, dubbed “harmolodics” (part harmony/motion/melody), fits hand in kid glove with the Master’s caterwauling ghaita’s and pounding heartbeat rhythms. “Ornette’s an angel, so pure. And he shoots a mean game of pool!” Billy laughed. “He really finds his voice in there,” Martin said of Coleman’s weaving sax. “This was the perfect collaboration!”
•> “Sufi Hadra” features Falu with Senegalese percussionist Aïyb Dieng and Bill Laswell. Laswell himself followed the road to Jajouka in November 1991 to record the pristine field recording Apocalypse Across the Sky.
•> The album’s closing track, “Al’Aita” features composer Howard Shore with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Shore’s collaboration with Ornette Coleman on the haunting score to David Cronenberg’s 1991 adaptation of William S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch was inspired by “Midnight Sunrise.” His contribution to The Road to Jajouka comes from the score to The Cell, which featured Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka.
•> Jajouka has faced constant challenges in recent years. A few of the Master Musicians have died, others are getting on in years and are in need of health care, while many of the young men have fled the village, leaving behind the old ways in search of a modern lifestyle in Tangier and Paris. “Many people ask about the future of the village and our music, which is very good,” Bachir Attar said. “But after many thousands of years, maybe there is an end?”
•> In response, a clutch of concerned musicians, led by Billy Martin, have come together to do their part to help preserve and further the music, myth and magic of Jajouka. All of the musicians volunteered their time and performances to the project. The funds raised for The Jajouka Foundation with profits from album sales, and fan donations, will be used to care for the internationally celebrated Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar and their families for community health care and to maintain its centuries-old traditions of Jajouka.
•> “In Moroccan the word Jajouka means ‘good things will come to you,’” explains Billy Martin. “It seems truly prophetic in this case. The way everything fell into place for this project was truly something magical to witness and be part of.”
•> Jim Jarmusch concludes in The Road To Jajouka’s liner notes: “These remixed recordings are a natural transformation — welcome extensions from the branches of the tree. This is a living music and whenever I listen to its hallucinogenic properties, I too tend to believe that if the Master Musicians of Jajouka were to ever stop the flow of their magic the earth might well stop rotating on its axis, might cease to revolve around the sun…”
by S. Victor Aaron
Harmonia Mundi Store: http://store.hmusa.com/the-road-to-jajouka-a-benefit-album.html
Interview by Michalis Limnios: http://blues.gr/profiles/blogs/an-interview-with-bachir-attar-the-leader-of-master-musicians-of / Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_Musicians_of_Joujouka
By Erin Coulehan; August 8, 2013 9:00 AM ET
|The Master Musicians of Jajouka — The Road to Jajouka / A Benefit Album (2013)|