Day Two: Friday 27/06/08
Click an image to enlarge.
UK bluesman Justin Adams understands better than
most the strong links between African music, jazz & blues. His
storming performance with West African Griot Juldeh Camarah tore
up the main stage in Place Moulay Hassan just as the sun set over
the sea. Adams - best known for his work with Robert Plant –
first embarked on his mission to put the ‘Africanness’
back into the blues with his album “Desert Road” (2001).
This was followed up by the collaboration with Juldeh Camarah, ‘Soul
Science’ in 2007, which won the Radio 3 World Music award.
Wayne Shorter’s performance highlighted the fact that the
real stars of this Festival are the Gnaoua. Shorter’s quartet
delivered an accomplished, lyrical set, and received an enthusiastic
response from the crowd, but when they were joined on stage by Maâlem
Mohamed Kouyou & his Gnaoua group with Karim Ziad on drums,
the crowd erupted into a frenzy. The Gnaouas continued to dominate
the rest of the set with Danilo Perez delivering a faultless accompaniment
to the Gnaoua beats.
I wandered round to the stage at Bab Marrakech, & discovered
a combination of steel drums (Paris based American Andy Narell);
electric guitar (Abdenour Djemaï from Algeria); violin (Hassan
Idbassaid from Morocco) and percussion (Stephane Edouard; France
/ India) providing the accompaniment to the pounding Gnaoua rhythms
of Maâlem Abderrahim Benthami. Andy Narell’s gentle
steel drums sound as if they were made to be played with Gnaoua
Most of the invited musicians here had never played together before,
and many have never played with the Gnaoua, but clearly a huge amount
of thought had gone into deciding which musicians would play with
each other during the Festival. One of the most noticeable points
about these musicians is their intuitive ability to adapt their
musical style and blend with the Gnaoua rhythms, and with each other.
Abdenour Djemaï observes:
“It’s all about listening; you can be the best
musician in the world, but if you cannot listen then you can never
play with anyone else…”
© Alice Mutasa