Part of a family of well-respected musicians and instrument makers, Mahmoud Ghania has become one of foremost exponents Gnaoua ceremonial music (In the 16th century, the Gnaoua came to Morocco as slaves from Mali and Guinea). His main instrument is the guimbri, a deep-toned, three-string lute that usually is heard atop a chorus of metal clappers called krkbaks and the occasional bendir frame drum and ghaita horn. And while Ghania often plays in traditional Gnaoua settings, he has also contributed to hundreds of sessions by both Berber orchestras and pop contingents in Casablanca and Marrakesh. This 1999 recording finds Ghania performing six traditional Gnaoua pieces, including two mesmerizing long-players which open the disc. The album title is in reference to Ghania's birthplace and home, Essaouira; it's the Gnaoua people who reside there that he celebrates in this fine collection.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook