Morocco: Exploring the world of gnawa music


I was trying to book a job in Bergen for Moksha. I got the number to Hassan, who has a really cool concert serie at Café Sanaa in Bergen called Global Beats. I called Hassan, and sent him some of our music. The day after he called me and asked if I wanted to play at a festival in Casablanca as well, with a Moroccan musician. I was a bit shocked, and asked for more information. Hassan sent me a video of Zakaria, and it turned out he was a great gnawa musician. I had been hooked on gnawa music for a couple of years, and secretely had the dream to travel to Morocco to experience the gnawa music. So when this opportunity came, I asked Marthe Lea to join and we went down to Morocco.  

And we had such a good time! Zakaria is an amazing musician.. Here is some of the music we played together:

Gnawa music is an ancient tradition with roots from the people that were taken as slaves from the west of Africa to Morocco. The music is usually performed at Lilas, which are 12-hours night spiritual night sessions leaded by a Maalem (like Zakaria) playing gumbri and singing, accompanied by a group of koyos (playing krakebs, the percussion instrument you see on the video). This is trance music, and it's normal that the people present starts dancing and gets in trance. 

When we were there we practiced together for a couple of days, and played three concerts in Rabat and Casablanca. The musical chemistry between the three of us was very strong from the first moment, and I had very strong music experiences playing with and listening to Zakaria. 

Here are some simple recordings we did: 

Maalem Zakaria: Gumbri and vocal
Marthe Lea: Saxophone and vocal
Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir: Guitar and vocal
Hassan Jokri: Krakebs and vocal
Youssef Koyo: Krakebs and vocal
Sofian: Percussion