cd cover

On tour in September and October, 2000

  • Saturday, 16 Sept. - Detroit Festival of the Arts / Univ. Cultural Center / Detroit, MI
  • Friday & Saturday, 22-23 Sept. - Lotus Festival / Bloomington, IN
  • Friday, 29 Sept. - The HotHouse / Chicago World Music Festival / Chicago, IL / 8pm
  • Saturday, 30 Sept. - Old Town School of Folk Music / Chicago World Music Festival / Chicago, IL/ 7pm
  • Saturday, 7 Oct. - Nelson Music Room / Duke Univ. / Durham, NC / 919-684-4444
Nass Marrakech
Sabil 'a 'Salaam
Alula (

Nass Marrakech offer the essence of Gnawa trance music on the songs "Marhaba" and "Hammeadi." Each of these songs begins with a short improvisation on the sintir, a deep sounding three-stringed lute. As the sintir finds a groove, it is joined by the karkabas, double metal castinets, setting up a circular or repeating rhythm. As the rhythm circle is joined by a djembe (a single-headed drum) later in the song, the rhythm shifts to a slightly different pattern. But underneath, the groove continues. Abdelkebir Bensaloum, the lead singer calls out repeating short lines and a male chorus responds. The voices drop out and the sintir takes over the lead yet not moving out of the rhythm groove. The effect on the listener is to suspend him in a non-directional time frame inducing a trance-like total awareness of the present moment.

Whether they play trance songs or pieces from other Moroccan religious brotherhoods, the four members of Nass Marrakech vibrate in a dense rhythmic texture. Vibrate is the key word because the deep pitch of the sintir seems keyed to the human heart. The sympathetic percussion and the call and response of the voices touches something very powerful in the listener. On this album, the members of Nass Marrakech are joined by non-Moroccans including a Japanese shakuhachi flute player. But the music is undiluted in its directness and power to transport the listener. Very potent stuff! -Aaron Howard

Audio: "Shema" © Alula and Nass Marrakech, used by permission

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