I just learned of the passing of the great master Randy Weston, whose tall shadow hangs over all of us who love, Gnawa Music, African Music, jazz and the intersection of three. He was a lovely person, eager to pass along the knowledge he’d gathered through an amazing life.
Recorded almost 8 years ago, I hope this podcast helps pass along some of his wisdom. He was humble, sweet and present and we’re lucky to have had him on the planet for 91 years.
In this incredible episode we capture Innov Gnawa performing the “Sebatayin” repetoire, Gnawa music performed traditionally in Morrocco for the Jewish Community. They performed this for the end of Passover at Greenwich House Music School as part of the UNCHARTED concert series.
The Jewish presence in Morocco dates back to over 2,500 years ago and upon interaction with the gnawa community, a bond formed over appreciation for gnawa music and its healing powers. Gnawa music pre-dates Islam and originally centered around animistic, spiritual, mystical concepts sung in sub-Saharan languages such as Bambara, Fulani and Sudani. Upon embracing Islam, gnawa songs began to incorporate Arabic language and themes around the Muslim prophets. Sebitiyin, meaning The Saturdays in Moroccan Arabic, is the collection of songs that grew out of the gatherings hosted by the Jewish community for the revered gnawa maalems whom they deeply respected. Themes of these songs still include the original elements of spirits and the natural world, and later came to incorporate shared saints from their Abrahamic traditions. Today, it is still rare to find a maalem that knows this full repertoire so we are especially lucky to have Maalem (Master) Hassan Ben Jaafer, son of the late Abdallah Ben Jaafer, lead us through a powerful moment of unity in music.
Uncharted is a concert series featuring New York-based artists premiering new projects or meeting with new collaborators for the first time on stage that has consistently drawn the attention of tastemakers and curators from across the city over the past three years. The Uncharted season delivers eclectic excellence in a broad selection of musical genres representing New York City’s diverse artistic community, including Mexican folkloric, ragtime, classical, electronic, jazz, ancient Moroccan devotional and contemporary R&B.
The world-renowned Moroccan Festival Gnaoua et Musiques du MondeEssaouira celebrates its 20th anniversary with a debut NYC collaboration. Great Maalems (masters) and all-stars of the festival trace a musical journey of the ancient music of Gnawa during a night of trance and tradition.
There will be events all week in NYC.
In this WKCR broadcast we get to speak with master drummer, Will Calhoun; Samir Langus and Nawfal Atiq of Innov Gnawa Meera Dugal of Lincoln Center, about what to expect and delve deep into this magical tradition
March 16th | Gnaoua Festival Tour 2017 Kickoff Concert at the David Rubenstein Atrium ft. Maalem Hamid El Kasri, Maalem Abdeslam Alikkane + special guest Maalem Hassan Ben Jaafer
March 17th | Gnaoua Festival Tour 2017 tradtional concert with Maalem Abdeslam Alikkane at The New School Jazz
March 19th | Gnaoua et Jazz at Pioneer Works with Maalem Hamid El Kasri, Maalem Abdeslam Alikkane, Will Calhoun, Marcus Strickland, Marc Cary, and Jamaaladeen Tacuma