Various Artists

Sacred Music of the Moroccan Jews

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Sacred Music of the Moroccan Jews compiles onto two discs most of the field recordings of Jewish sacred music that Paul Bowles gathered in Morocco in 1959 in the cities of Essaouira and Meknes. Included on the first disc is a complete evening Sabbath synagogue service in Meknes, followed by seven Hebrew sacred poems sung to either Egyptian melodies or in the djiri, or Algerian, style. The second disc presents a centuries-old tradition of singing sacred poetry. In this case, cantor Shem Tov Knafo performs the Moroccan Andalusian music in the old style, that is, a cappella. Only occasionally do other voices join in and accompany him. This performance is actually an abridged version of how these selections from the book Shir Yedidut would usually be performed, but nonetheless effectively lets the listener experience these religious songs (and services). The compilation, at worst, could be said to include too much.

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