Maalem Si Mohamed Chaouqi

Les Gnawa du Maroc: Ouled El'Abdi

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Originally from Mali and the Sudan by way of Timbuktu, the Ganawa are a brotherhood of musicians who settled in Morocco. The Ganawa's legacy spans a wide breadth of time, going all the way back to one of the original Muslims, Bilal. Besides being noted as Mohammed's Abyssinian slave and eventual sideman, Bilal is venerated as being the first human to recite the call to prayer. Among the Ganawa he is also credited with having invented the quarqabat (hand-held iron clappers). These instruments, when played in conjunction with the Ganawa's most favored lute (hajouj) and bass drum (tbel), let loose a spiritual healing power that relieves the pangs of "troubled souls." Taking the form of various genies, demons, spirits, and angels, this healing musical power is intended to reach those "troubled souls" who have prepared themselves by falling out of consciousness and into a trance. Si Mohamed Chaouqi, who takes center stage on this CD as the leading maalem (master musician), is accompanied by an ensemble of up to ten players. The songs they share on this CD provide a glimpse into their sacred world where sound, healing, and the supernatural intermingle. Perhaps if we listen closely enough, our own souls will be touched by the Ganawa's hypnotic incantations.

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