May 31, 2011

MUSTAPHA BAQBOU - Baqbou [EH1271] (198?)

The Marrakech-born Maâlem Mustapha Baqbou is one of the great sentir (or gimbri) players of gnawi trance music. Gnawa is traditionally healing music and shares similar characteristics with Malian n'goni music, perhaps because the gnawi people were once slaves of the Mali Empire centuries ago. A mixture of Islam and West African religions, gnawa ceremonies rely on a maâlem like Baqbou to summon benevolent spirits to the aid of the unwell. In all-night ritual ceremonies known as lilas (or derdebas), participants are drawn into a trance state by the maâlem's sentir and the aid of a priestess. Qraqebs (or castanets) offer rhythmic accompaniment as supernatural entities possess the bodies of ecstatic dancers.

Baqbou was briefly a member of the seminal group, Jil Jilala, a flagship band in the Chaabi movement of the 1970s which sought to revitalize Moroccan music by incorporating the region's many different musical styles and traditions. He continues to perform today. This cassette from the Editions Hassania label features Baqbou's solo vocals and sentir-plucking with no chorus or qraqebs. 

Utmost thanks to Tim Abdellah for identifying the artist and translating the Arabic cassette cover. Be sure to check out Tim's new blog, Moroccan Tape Stash, for more Moroccan pleasures.

NOTE: Thanks again to Tim for his keen eye. It appears that the tracklisting on the cassette cover bears no relation to the songs on the tape. The following appropriation reflects the correct song titles, as identified by Mr. Abdellah. 

بــا قــبــو‎‎‎‎‎

Train I'm On

Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten performs in her Syracuse, NY home at the age of 90. Segment aired on Aly Bain's BBC series, Down Home (1985).

See a longer version of this performance here.

May 25, 2011

THE LATIN JAZZ QUINTET + ERIC DOLPHY - Caribé (1960) + The Latin Jazz Quintet (1961)

Despite being hideously assassinated in his prime by the mass mind's collective will, Eric Dolphy's music has thankfully not been lost to time, as evidenced by the fulsome profferings thereof on-line and on-bootlegs. While I'd be amiss not to point you first to Out There and Out to Lunch, as well as Dolphy's work with Andrew Hill and Oliver Nelson, I can just as enthusiastically recommend these two summerly warm latin sessions (parts at least). Eric Dolphy sat in on two different latin jazz sessions in 1960-61, one with a group called the Latin Jazz Quintet, the other with a group of musicians led by Felipe Díaz who also called themselves the Latin Jazz Quintet. Dolphy is, however, the only common player between the two recordings, which both feature vibraphones to make it that much more confusing.  

Though the music here is hardly adventurous, Dolphy's performances on sax, flute, and bass clarinet boost the joy-creation quotient manyfold. The bass clarinet meandered through time a transient derelict before Eric Dolphy fingered it. The eponymous Latin Jazz Quintet album makes for excellent hot weather listening, though I admit songs like "Cha Cha King" and half of Caribé are better seldom heard. Perfect music for those with no place to hang their hammock.

dolphy summer driving

May 18, 2011

Early Apparatus: Adam's Ale

Two early underwater diving machines: Frederic Drieberg's Le Triton, 1805 (top) and Karl Heinrich Klingert's copper kettle, 1797 (bottom).