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Ecstatic Music of the Jemaa El Fna
Various Artists CD
SF - 056CD
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For centuries, the Jemaa El Fna (Rendezvous of the Dead) has remained the stage for one of the most spectacular social forums on the planet. By day, this central square in the city of Marrakesh, one of Morocco's great imperial cities, fosters a kaleidoscope of entertainment for its local inhabitants; storytellers, acrobats, magicians and snake charmers all create intriguing displays of bewitching spectacle. As the sun sets, the evening grows frantic with the pulse of the crowd; it is then that the night musicians set up. Free from the restrictions and expectations of light entertainment for a tourist crowd, these musicians manifest ecstatic performances that animate the audience and players alike. The groups represented on this album; Troupe Majidi,Amal Saha, and Mustapha Mahjoub, are working and carrying the torch of their musical heroes nightly in the square. These songs come from the repertoire of Morocco's greatest musical exports: Nass El Ghiwane, Lemchaheb, Jil Jilala, Larssad, and many others from the Chaabi (Moroccan popular music) canon and are given a raw, emotional and fiery interpretation. Instruments are powered by car batteries and blown out through megaphone speakers. These recordings represent a rare opportunity to hear this music at such close proximity, taking in all the power and passion of the performances. The raw fidelity captures an unflinching immersion of what is simply some of the greatest street music on earth. Recorded by Hisham Mayet in 2005, a few of these performances were featured in his film Musical Brotherhoods from the Trans-Saharan Highway. This collection also contains tracks not present in the film for a more potent snapshot of the ecstatic Jemaa El Fna. Debut CD digipak edition of this sold-out LP with booklet & photos of the musicians and liner notes by Hisham Mayet.
Folk & Pop Sounds from Iraq
Various Artists 2CD
SF - 1025CD
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Originally released in 2005, while the U.S.-led war against Iraq was tearing the country to pieces, Choubi Choubi Vol. 1 brought a collection of incredible Iraqi music and styles that had rarely showcased abroad. This 2014 deluxe-edition 2CD reissue is a must-have. It features re-mastered, and in some cases, completely restored audio, revised and updated liner notes with new artist and track information, plus four additional tracks not featured in the first CD issue. Meticulously compiled by Mark Gergis from his archives of Iraqi cassettes and LPs found in Syria, Europe and the Iraqi neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan and elsewhere within the diaspora, this unique collection of folk and pop styles displays a wealth of outstanding music that is exclusive to Iraq. Choubi is Iraq's version of Middle Eastern dabke music, and can be found throughout the country. It's performed at weddings and parties nationally by its melting pot of Arabs, Kurds, Christians, and Rom gypsies -- known as Kawlia. The Kawlia have been some of the most active recorded choubi artists in Iraq since the 1980s, and many tracks featured in this volume feature their outstanding performances. There are many reasons why Iraqi music stands alone in the dynamic world of Arabic music: one example is the unbelievable rapid-fire machine-gun rhythms fluttering atop the main tempo. This is the work of a unique nomadic hand drum called the Khishba -- also known as the Zanbour (Arabic for wasp). A style prominently featured here is the infamous Iraqi Choubi -- a driving, rhythmic style that can include fiddles, double reeded instruments, percussion, bass, keyboards and oud over its signature beat. Other styles featured are the Basta (an urban Baghdadi sound), Iraq's legendary brand of Mawal -- an ornamental vocal improvisation that sets the tone of a song, regardless of the style, and the outstanding Iraqi Hecha -- with its lumbering and determined rhythm pulsing beneath sad, antagonized vocals. Most of the music in this collection was produced during the Saddam period -- between the 1980s and 2002. Since the 2003 invasion and the wholesale disassembly of the country, classic tracks like these have already become part of a disappeared past. This 2CD package comes in a beautifully redesigned digipak and features 70 minutes of classic original recordings compiled by Mark Gergis with extensive liner notes.